After graduating with a degree in Modern Chinese History and International Studies, I found myself working in a research group writing science curriculum. Wanting to experience the world I had studied in school, I started looking for a way to live in China. I applied to several programs (many listed on this very site) but after talking through it with some friends who had lived in China before, I settled on WorldTeach for two reasons:
1.) I could live in a rural village in a relatively rural province. As my friends pointed out, rural placements are a rare opportunity.
2.) WorldTeach's reputation meant it might look better on my resume. Pretty selfish, I know.
Well that was my thought process, though it turned out my reasons were fine, but it was only later that I learned the real reason I had made a great choice: support. The WorldTeach China program both cared that I was a competent teacher and had the local reach to make sure that was possible. Over 18 months of living in China and Taiwan, I came to learn that support from most other international programs extends to a 5 day "training" session, a pat on the head, and a boot out the door. FYI, you can't learn how to be a teacher in 5 days. Ok, you got me, you can't learn to be a teacher in WorldTeach's 20+ day training program either, but I was certainly a lot more prepared than my fellow foreign teacher expats. Then when something went wrong, my friends-from-another-...program were just left to deal with it. School say they can't pay you this month? Too bad. Mold so caked on your bathroom you can roll your toes in new green fuzzy carpet? Tough. School makes you sleep above the coal-fueled boiler room and you get lung disease? Solve it yourself. But in each of these very real situations, WorldTeach stepped up and solved the problems within days, if not hours. Their strong partnerships with provincial education officials make short work of any day to day school problems. I cannot stress enough how much this improves the day to day life of living in China.
Of course WorldTeach was not my mommy. I did not move to the literal far side of the globe to be babied. Most smaller things I could handle on my own - and did. Things like the occasional cancelled classes or power outages lasting a few hours were fairly normal, but easy to handle on my own. Living in a different culture always comes with myriad of challenges, but that is the core of the personal journey. Any year long program will push you, as it should. Learning to be my own person faced with situations far outside my comfort zone is another reason I think the WorldTeach program was the correct move for me.
Aside from that support, WorldTeach provided a good social group. I made some life long friends, and met amazing people from all around the world. While the nightlife in my sleepy two stop-light town was nonexistent, it was easy to travel with friends all around China and Asia at large.
Looking back on it, I would do it all again in a heartbeat. While I feel my experience living abroad (in China, Taiwan, but also Russia, a bit in Thailand) has now prepared me to live and work on my own, if I was just starting out I would never go with anyone other than WorldTeach.