Alumni Spotlight: Adam Pancoe

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Adam Pancoe is from Youngstown, Ohio and currently teaches English at Pureun Elementary School near Seoul. He enjoys movies, gyros, and preacher curls.

What inspired you to teach ESL?

I was a recent college graduate from a small town in Ohio. I got hired right out of university doing marketing research, but was let go when my company began down-sizing. The few months after being let go gave me time to think about what I wanted to do with my life going forward. I had seen too many of my friends and peers become stuck in dead end jobs, in trouble with the law or drugs, and just unhappy overall with the choices they made for their lives. I had always wanted to travel and see the things I read about in books throughout my years in school.

On top of that, I felt like working with children would be something exciting, rewarding, and would give me a sense of accomplishment. After looking all over the internet for videos, interviews, and other info about what exactly teaching English abroad was really like, I decided to go for it. I was single, healthy, and able to pick up and leave. I figured I could travel and help children, essentially killing two birds with one stone.

Why did you choose GEPIK?

After a long process of weighing the pros and cons of teaching English in different countries, I decided on Korea. From my research, I came to understand teaching English in public schools were the most desired positions. I began contacting recruiters, agencies, and blasting out my resume. I dealt with more than a few recruiters that weren’t very professional, but that changed when I started my application process with GEPIK. They were very quick to answer all of my questions and concerns and I didn’t feel the pressure to “hurry up and sign” a contract with them. I spent roughly 2 months emailing back and forth with GEPIK representatives about different teaching positions, necessary documents, and cultural questions. They were more than happy to help with everything and really stood out among all the other recruiters, companies, and agencies I spoke with.

Describe your day to day activities as a teacher in Korea.

Monday-Friday I work at Pureun Elementary School, a large elementary school about 45 min south of Seoul. I teach English grammar, vocabulary, and culture classes to 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students. I am in the classroom from 9am-1pm and from 1pm-4:30pm I have office hours where I help students with English homework, projects, and other general teacher duties. Being the only English teacher at my school, many times I’m asked by other teachers and administrative staff to proofread or check English documents or help with personal questions they may have concerning English education or culture. After 4:30pm, I’m out the door and usually head to the gym and then home.

How has this experience impacted your future?

This experience has literally changed my life. I feel like I’ve grown into a more patient, understanding, and independent person. Beyond the personal changes, I feel my experiences living and working alone in a foreign country have made me more valuable for future employers.

What is one piece of advice you would give to others thinking about teaching abroad?

My advice would be to do your homework and keep an open mind. If you’re serious about making a life change, spend time researching and comparing the different opportunities you find. There’s only so much you can look up online or on blogs though, there comes a point where you just have to let go of everything and make a decision for yourself.