Alumni Spotlight: Stephanie Warren

Stephanie Warren is a 25-year old Indianapolis, IN native. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Telecommunications and a Minor Degree in French from Ball State University. She is currently teaching English as a foreign language in Thailand. Stephanie is passionate about volunteerism, non-profit work, traveling, and great storytelling! When she’s not in the classroom, you can find her volunteering, hiking, daydreaming about being in the mountains, or drinking copious amounts of tea.

Why did you decide to teach English abroad with Greenheart Travel in Thailand?

Stephanie Warren

Stephanie: I was working in advertising at the time I first learned about Greenheart Travel in a catch-up e-Mail sent by a friend that was looking into teaching abroad.

Fast forward a couple months and I found myself becoming increasingly dissatisfied with my job and unhappy with other aspects of my life, as well. I made a list of things I wanted: “Do good things for others”, “Challenge myself in a positive way”, “See the world”, “Have an income doing all the previously listed things”.

The more time I spent online researching and reading, the more I learned that all those things could be possible through ‘teaching English abroad’. I remembered that e-Mail a couple months back and remembered Greenheart Travel.

The organization ticked all the boxes in what I was looking for. They are passionate about what they do, they have an excellent reputation, the price point was around what I was able to commit to, and they made a lot of really great sounding promises. So, I reached out.

Greenheart Travel offers teaching opportunities in several countries including: South Korea, China, Myanmar, Thailand, Colombia, and
Italy. Thailand was never on my radar, I knew nothing about the country – and THAT was what was most appealing to me.

From the very first correspondence, I was met with so much support and enthusiasm. It just felt right. I left my advertising job to pursue teaching English in Thailand with Greenheart Travel and it has been the best decision I have ever made."

Describe your day-to-day activities as a teacher.

A peek into one of Stephanie's classrooms before the lesson

Stephanie: I do not come from a teaching background. The TEFL course allowed me to gain not only a basic foundation in teaching English, but it also gave me much needed confidence.

Thailand is a developing country. You may not be provided with many resources if anything other than maybe a white board and a
marker. With no syllabus, list of students, or even textbooks in many cases, I realized how important it was for me to be on top of my game.

I decided it was my responsibility to implement structure and a foundation for my students – something they didn’t have. Teaching in
a way that allows them to be engaged and interested in the lesson is really important to me. Having fun is one of my rules!

In the normal semester, I have 50-minute classes. A typical day begins with roll call, reviewing and collecting the previous night’s homework if there was any, and then into that day’s lesson. In every class, I make it a point to cover reading, writing, and speaking.

I, also, make it a point to have fun. I find that games and activities where they get to interact and work with each other using the language is a very effective tool!

Was it difficult navigating around language barriers?

Stephanie: Yes! It has been quite difficult, but you learn how to make it work.You pick up some of their language because you have to. In order to get around, to eat, etc. you must open yourself up to picking up some of the language.

Unless you’re in a larger city, chances are finding someone that speaks English is going to be a great challenge. A phrase book and a smile has been my best friend. The Thais are extremely kind and helpful people, so even if they don’t speak a lick of English, they will still do their best to try to help you if you find yourself in a jam.

I have so many great stories and memories involving language barriers! There’s something really neat about connecting with another
person that doesn’t speak one word of your language and you don’t know theirs and you’re caught in a situation and all you both can do is

Ten years from now, what do you think you’ll remember from this trip?

Hua Hin, Thailand - a great example of Thailand's beauty

Stephanie: Ten years from now, what I hope to remember from this trip is how incredibly happy my heart is by being here, immersing myself in this beautiful and unique culture, to be challenging myself in ways I never imagined, and above all – to be serving others and making a positive impact in this community.

Many of my students couldn’t even tell me what country they live in at first, but now we’re having conversations about their goals in life and what they need to do to achieve those goals. It’s ridiculously rewarding.

How has this experience impacted your future?

Stephanie: This experience has impacted my future in countless ways. I have gained an incredible network of friends and colleagues from countries all over the world.

I have been faced with challenges that have strengthened my ability to persevere and have allowed me to become an even more empathetic individual. My communication, management, and leadership skills have vastly improved.

Before this journey, the vision I had for my future was somewhat blurred. Post-college, I wasn’t entirely confident in what direction I
wanted to go in and I was very unhappy with the work I was doing, my relationships were suffering – including and especially the relationship with myself. I decided I could do better and teaching abroad was a huge step in the right direction for me.

I have such a stronger sense of self and have gained so much confidence. I know exactly what I want my future to look like now and not just professionally, but I’m so much more passionate about all aspects of my life. It’s incredibly exciting for me. This experience has impacted my future in only wonderfully positive ways.