Alumni Spotlight: Harry Bennett


Harry graduated from university as a filmmaker and writer, diving deep into hospitality for several years in management positions, before taking a leap of faith and purchasing a one way ticket to Asia, to begin a new career path as a teacher and being immersed in a whole new culture.


Why did you choose this program?

It had always been an ambition and dream of mine to teach a foreign language in Asia, to immerse myself fully in a completely different culture and live an entirely new experience than I have ever before.

I did a lot of research, read reviews, people's personal stories and narrowed down the destinations that were best suited for me and the type of programmes they were offering, compared costs, had friends recommend me from their own experiences teaching in Asia and XploreAsia had everything I was looking for, it really stood out and enticed me and choosing them was the best decision.

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

They were amazing with any information I requested about the programme and what to expect, what to bring and how everything would work from day 1 with several checklists, cultural booklets and seminars and helped every step of the way, assisting in the process with all the necessary documents required to get to Thailand and everything I needed to teach and the entire application process and placement at the job I received. On my own I attained my visa, legalised my degree, got a background check, booked and organised my flights, accommodation for the sandbox quarantine scheme, travel insurance and more.

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

It's not easy, but try to not have too many expectations, it's better to be extremely surprised than disappointed, as the whole experience will change you for the better and so to go in with an open mind and accept and appreciate whatever you have and are given, saying yes to all opportunities as they'll always lead to the greatest stories and embracing and adapting to a new culture takes time but is ultimately rewarding and worth every moment.

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

I would start school at 7:30am, greeting the parents and students at the gate, before the national anthem began, then proceeding into the morning programme with the entire school and teachers. I taught 5 to 6 periods (hours) a day, with an hour for lunch at midday, spending any down time socialising with my colleagues and friends and making lesson plans or assessing the students. School would finish at 4:00pm, where the parents would collect their children and sometimes the teachers would have meetings, but if not, we would finish and the evenings were free to go to the market, see friends, exercise, explore, travel, rest, go to temple, the list goes on, everyday was different a wonderful experience and the weekends were completely open to do anything and go anywhere.

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

It was my first ever professional teaching experience, besides some volunteering in Africa, so I was thrown in the deep end having over 200 students who had never heard or practised English before and could only understand their own language, so I had the challenge of communicating with and teaching every class a whole new language everyday with large amounts of students and had a lot of miscommunication and misunderstandings, but that is natural and I knew going in this would be an obstacle a my biggest fear, but overcame it in time, through trial and error, experimenting with my style, more practise and experience everyday and learning their language to translate and better communicate with them, getting to know their individual personalities and bonding on shared interests and making lessons a fun environment to learn in and finding new ways to understand a foreign language visually and vocally and I left knowing I taught them to the best ability that I could and made a real impact in their education and lives.

Write and answer your own question.

All of my favourite stories involve the children, as that is what it was all about and for in the end, the purpose of being there and everyday was a sacred and unforgettable story worth telling, I have endless memories, but my birthday was a particularly special one, as I didn't expect much as it was just an average teaching day, but one of my colleague's surprised me by telling every student and teacher when my birthday was and the way they celebrated me is unlike anything I've ever experienced before; every class surprised me and sang, presented me with gifts, cards, food and more and the school went out of their way to throw a party at the end of the day and made it one of the best days of my life with how their culture celebrated my presence, I couldn't have been more grateful by their kindness and hospitality each and everyday.

The only thing I can think of that I would do differently, is learn more of the language prior to my arrival, I learnt to speak Thai by interacting with my students, colleagues, locals and friends on a daily basis and language exchanging, but it took a lot of time and I wish I had begun teaching myself a little before I came to prepare myself for the language barrier to begin with.