Staff Spotlight: SJ Vermaak

Senior Project Coordinator


SJ is from South Africa and has been fortunate enough to live and work in South Korea, Malaysia, and the United States in various industries.

What is your favorite travel memory?

Traveling through the Philippines was one of my favorite trips. We arrived in Cebu and took a ferry to Bohol to see the 'Chocolate Hills' while waterfall hunting. The accommodation that we stayed looked like treehouses and we went on a sunset SUP trip to come back while all the fireflies covered the trees next to the river. From there we took another ferry to Siquijor and rented a scooter to go all over the island and go cliff diving.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I have gained a better understanding of how much I developed while abroad from speaking with recent graduates looking to head over to South Korea. It is amazing to see the change in their confidence and independence from the initial call until the time that they are looking to renew their contracts.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

Every time I speak with a teacher that is looking to renew their contract at their current school or looking to try a new school is a good story as it shows that the teachers have enjoyed their time in South Korea and would wish to continue their adventure. South Korea can be a difficult country for some as it is very busy and the culture has a strong work ethic, so if a teacher decides to stay another year then it shows how they have been able to adapt and grow personally and professionally.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

I would love to go on the Costa Rica program as I have not yet visited any Central American countries and it looks absolutely beautiful. Over the last 5 years, I was lucky enough to visit Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Myanmar so I have traveled quite a bit throughout Asia.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

We help teachers go on a life-changing experience that will have an impact on the rest of their life. The local communities where teachers go and teach also benefit immensely from these teachers as developing their English skills will help them in their own lives and careers. All of the staff that form part of each program's team have lived and worked in those countries so they have first-hand experience of what teachers are going through and are a great source of info and advice.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Being empathetic with the problems that some of the teachers may face is a major factor as they place their trust in us to keep their best interests in mind. Living and working in a foreign country where English is not the main language is an intimidating experience to go through and some issues may seem small to those that have already been through the process but it is always good to remember what it felt like going through it yourself and do your best to help these teachers navigate through them.