Alumni Spotlight: Brandon Brady


Brandon is a former Americorps Service Member where he provided budget counseling to low-income families and conducted free classes for the public to increase Greenville's overall financial literacy. Brandon is currently working with English First based in Shanghai, China.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because I had never been outside of my country before, and EF provided the perfect opportunity to both challenge and educate myself by learning/working in a new culture.

Any business student will tell you how impactful China's economy is on the rest of the world. Right now, I am able to live and study at the heart of it all. Learning how to conduct business differently will greatly increase my future success.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

English First assisted me with: my initial flight (through a flight reimbursement that is received monthly), locating an apartment (and gave me a 0% interest loan to help me secure said apartment), setting up a bank account, setting up a phone, setting up my health insurance and most importantly my Z visa! They basically made sure I had the essentials.

On my own, I had to figure out: the lease on my apartment (with the help of my agent), where to buy food, how to get to work, and other things like how to get internet in my apartment. Doing these types of things on your own really help you to become confident/comfortable in your new culture.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Come with an open mind. Things here will be different and ever-changing. This can either make you frustrated or interested. Being interested opens up so many doors for education and understanding.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

As an Adult English Teacher with English First, you will basically be working a second shift schedule. This is primarily because when the students get off work, they want to come to class. You will have two days off that are weekdays, and this turns out to be a great thing. Cities get extremely busy on the weekend and having weekdays off allows you to bypass the "people mountain people sea" aspects of city life.

In English First, you will be teaching 21-25 classes per week, planning for those lessons, and getting to know your students during your work hours. Classes range from 5-20 students so getting to know the students is very easy and rewarding.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My bigger fear was that I would fail (again this is my first country outside of the USA). The only reason why I did not was because I kept an open mind, and surrounded myself with positive, enjoyable people. Success became more obtainable by breaking down my problems into manageable parts. Everyday tasks become pressing issues when you live abroad (for about the first 6 months). Stop, take a breath, and laugh about it.