Alumni Spotlight: David Spadaccini

Why did you decide to teach abroad with Adventure Teaching in Korea?

David hiking Mt. Inwangsan

David: After countless weeks spent with Google search, I had finally come across a website that seemed like a legitimate and professional company. I was looking for a company that would treat me like a future employer they would respect and be proud of in the coming months instead of just another paycheck they could cash. I sent an email inquiring about their program as I did with all of my recruiting agencies I was intrigued with and they blew me away once more when I received an email the day after - I had yet to hear back from anyone else after several weeks! The more I looked over their website, the more I was drawn in. The founder and all the employees had taught in Korea, their information was all relevant and up to date, and their honesty and determination was apparent. If that wasn't enough, I even got to speak with a coordinator from AT over the phone who answered every question I had - 7 months later, I can still count on them. That is a service that a majority of other companies lack, a continued support that is there every step of the way.

What made this teaching experience unique and special?

David: Teaching in Korea so far has not only been rewarding, it’s been something else. Though the kids can be a bit much at times, they are what make this job so different, so special. I’ve grown so close to many of them because I’ve spent so much time talking and teaching them. The constant daily gifts of chocolate, snacks, pieces of paper saying “Thank you for teaching me teacher,” the random hugs, and the smiles when they come and go. That is what makes this teaching so fulfilling, because you are not just a teacher, you’re a mentor and a friend to these young kids. You are their encouragement as they are to you, and I’m reminded of that everyday, and it’s not the same if I were teaching in America because there is a huge differing factor. Here, the kids and I overcome the language barrier, I may not be able to have full conversations with my youngest classes, but by god I know they understand me, they know me so well from my movements and the way I look at them. That connection, that love that we share as teacher and student, is a bond of which I have never known until now. Thanks kids, you really know how to make David Teacher happy.

How has this experience impacted your future?

Drinking in Gangnam

David: As far as my future goes, it’s another stepping-stone. In all aspects, I am heightened as an individual thanks to this incredible opportunity of a lifetime. Had I not chose this path, I’d be stuck making minimum wage tossing pizza in D.C. without a challenge. Having to deal with a changing work environment day in and day out and teaching children a second language while balancing the fact that an English academy is a business as well as a school. All of these things are boosting my resume and my character. In this tough economic period I will shine a little brighter than the rest with potential employers. I am putting money away, able to travel parts of Southeast Asia, and make countless friends with stories that will last for years to come. Eventually, I’d like to pursue an MA in International Relations to possibly work as a study abroad advisor in higher education or even work in a not-for-profit company for volunteering. I guess we’ll see where life takes me.

What is one piece of advice you would offer something considering teaching abroad in Korea?

David: If there was something I could tell others that are interested in teaching in Korea, I’d say this: be prepared to be, unprepared. Though AT indeed explained to me the differences regarding culture, social cues, and the odds and ends, there was no possible way to ready myself before I got here. No matter how much preparation you undergo, you’ll run into a snag more than often along the way in your first weeks. You just have to keep in mind that you are in a different “world” out here, where everything you knew just goes upside down. That’s ok; don’t let that deter you from your goals and why you want to come to Korea in the first place. I can’t tell you that your experiences, while they may be difficult at first,will ease as time passes, but if you’ve already made the decision to move and live in Korea – I’m sure you’ll accommodate quickly to your surroundings. Do your best to live by that saying, “Just go with the flow,” and don’t become pessimistic when something goes wrong, let that fuel yourself to become more aware and grow.

Lantern Festival in Seoul