Thomas is a high school teacher from Hamilton, Ontario who has been working with MEI Academy since 2019. He taught on the 2019 International Business Trip and will be bringing his international teaching experience to Europe on the 2020 Term 3 Kingdoms program.
What is your favorite travel memory?
My favourite travel memory comes from this past summer outside of Beijing where I was fortunate enough to go to The Great Wall of China.
I climbed all the way up with a few brave students, and the process of hiking to the top alongside them was a truly incredible bonding experience. The satisfaction and camaraderie we experienced upon finally looking out over the Chinese countryside were spectacular.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
Since working for MEI, I have changed my teaching philosophy pretty drastically. Having the ability to work alongside such stellar teachers and see how they go about their teaching practice every day has inspired me to not only continue to learn and grow in my main teachable subject areas, but to try to become more well-rounded.
The multi-disciplinary approach to teaching allows students to make connections between different subjects and practices, and helps them to gain a worldview which is academically robust and culturally comprehensive. Furthermore, I have learned the value of having a "figure it out" mindset. If I don't know something, or how to do something, I will do my very best to figure it out with help from my fellow educators, and I do my best to instill this "can-do" attitude in my students.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
The best story I have heard from a return student was actually this past week. One of my former students is a high-level hockey player, and as an avid fan myself, we discussed it extensively on the trip. Upon reconnecting with him, he shared with me that he had received a scholarship to play in university, and said that some of the different exercises and strategies we had discussed over the summer had helped him to improve to that point.
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
Honestly, I love working with this company so much, that I would be thrilled to go away and teach on any of their amazing programs. Eventually, my hope is to go away and explore all of the different programs they have to offer.
However, if I was absolutely forced to choose one, I would love to go to New Zealand, Australia, and Bali: Trailblazers trip. The combination of so many different outdoor activities such as hiking, climbing, surfing, scuba diving, yoga, and boating just sounds so appealing. Beaches, mountains, and tropical islands on the same trip? Sign me up!
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
The coolest thing about MEI Academy that sets it apart from the regular teaching experience, or other international teaching companies that I have worked with, is its commitment to truly experiential learning.
When MEI Academy says they bring education out of the classroom and into the real world, they mean it! Learning about the French Revolution AT the Palace of Versailles, trading and bonds AT the New York Stock Exchange, and about Mao Zedong AT the forbidden tomb allows students to feel like they aren't just learning about a subject, they are a part of it.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
I believe that the biggest factor in being a successful company is, quite simply, human connection. Joe and Rita Mei have made me feel like a part of the family alongside the rest of the staff, and have created a fun company culture of respect and open discourse which is so valuable.
On top of that, the connections I have seen and experienced between the teachers and the students on these trips are incredible. The teachers at MEI just care so deeply about each and every student they interact with. This approach is very successful, as evidenced by the huge number of return students, and the sheer number of word of mouth referrals to other students.