Jasmine Conway Features Editor- The Pawprint
How long have you been teaching?
This is my 6th year, so I’ve already taught for five years.
What countries have you taught in?
I have only taught in the US, China, and here in the UAE. Previously, I lived in Bolivia, Argentina, Peru, and Chile, before I started teaching.
This is your first time teaching at a school in the UAE, correct?
Yes, it’s my first time even being in the UAE, I’ve been here for about two weeks now.
What was your favorite school subject growing up?
I was obsessed with school. I loved learning. The funny thing is, history was my least favorite subject. I thought it was so boring. I ended up teaching it though because I wanted to make it less boring for my students than it was for me. One of my favorite subjects was English though, because I liked reading.
What made you want to start teaching?
I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, even in Elementary school. By the time I graduated high school, my main problem was that I didn’t know what I wanted to teach, because I liked all my subjects. I knew I would become a teacher eventually, but I had to figure out what I wanted to teach first.
I did a lot of humanitarian aid in South America while I was trying to figure out what I was going to teach, before I eventually settled on history. I wanted to teach it because I thought I could make it less boring for students to learn.
What do you think you do differently from most other teachers?
Other students have told me that I care a lot about building personal relationships with students. I want them to feel like when they come into my classroom it’s a safe place for them. At my last school, I would often stay after school for hours just talking with various students that needed to vent about one thing or another.
I also try and be very creative with my teaching methods, so I have lots of skits and games for students.
You kind of already answered this, but was teaching what you wanted to do when you were younger? If not, what was your “dream job” as a kid?
I always wanted to teach, but when I was younger I always wanted to adventure. In America, some neighborhoods are very homogeneous, but mine was very diverse. My friends were from Sri Lanka and Japan. I was always fascinated to see how different cultures played out inside of the home. International teaching kinda makes experiencing new cultures and teaching possible at the same time, which is why I love it so much.
Do you have any teacher horror stories you can share with us?
Well, I have one horror story about living abroad that wasn’t tied to teaching. I was in Bolivia at the time, teaching people about proper medical care. One day, we were coming home and stopped to catch a bus. All the sudden this guy comes running up with a 2 x 4 and smacked me on the bottom. There was a police officer right next to me, but he didn’t even do anything. I was really confused, and about to yell at him, before I saw a crowd of people all carrying wood or pitchforks running at us. My friends and I all started running towards the bus and we got in and shut all the doors. The protesters were pounding on the doors and windows, so we were trapped inside the bus for a few hours.
We didn’t know it at the time, but it was the start of the revolution against the president of Bolivia. These protests would go on for weeks and weeks. You would try and stay inside, but sometimes you were outside when they started tear gassing people, and you just couldn’t make it back in time. The protests were so bad that we couldn’t leave the country for weeks. We however eventually managed to bribe people at the border to let us out of the country.
What would you say is the most dangerous thing you’ve ever done?
I am not necessarily a risk-taker, as I’m often aware of the risks of things. I biked an extremely narrow road when I was living in Bolivia, it’s known as the most dangerous road. One one side of the road is the mountain the path is on and on the other side is just a giant cliff. It’s so dangerous for bikers because cars get the right of way. So people like me who were biking there had to drive out on the edge near the cliff. There are so many twists and turns in the road as well, which gets really scary when you’re riding on a one-person bike out on the edge of a huge drop.
To wrap up, can you tell us one story of yourself that you think best describes your character?
One time I was flying out of Los Angeles and the plane caught on fire. We were about 45 minutes outside of the city when they announced there was a fire in the cockpit and they wanted to turn around and head back before anything got too serious. So, we start flying back, and it’s weird because I don’t usually panic much. When bad things happen to me, I usually just laugh about it, but this time I was actually scared, I was afraid it could’ve been the end for me. In that moment, all I could think about was my family, and about god. When I think about this situation, I think about how scared I got and what I ended up turning to in that moment, and I think those two things really best describe who I am and what I care about as a person. When the plane landed, we had to get out of the plane on giant yellow slides. But in the end, when they got everyone out of the plane, do you know what? There wasn’t even a fire. The light telling the pilots that there was a fire was broken, as said there was a fire when there wasn’t.