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EMU Foundation

Teaching Abroad—A New Way to Travel

Dan Cichoracki and Dr. Karen Paciorek

Dan Cichoracki and Dr. Karen Paciorek

by Michelle Kuhar

Earlier this year, seven Eastern Michigan University students began an adventure most had never dreamed about before coming to Eastern; they spent three months teaching in English for schools in China. This trip was made possible through EMU’s International Teaching Experience program. Through the program EMU partners with recruiting organizations in China who are looking for native English speakers to teach in Chinese schools.

The students’ enthusiasm over the experience was evident in the follow up success of the trip, three of the seven traveling teachers signed up to return for an entire year. According to the students, the reasons they returned are many: local travel, seeing new sights, trying different foods, improving their teaching skills, mastering the Chinese language, making new friends, being immersed in another culture, and just having fun.

Dan Cichoracki, from Seattle, Wa., graduated this past spring and was one of the returning teachers.

“I enjoy the challenge more than anything else," said Cichoracki. "It is a new program so there is a lot of freedom in the lessons. It is possible that I’m designing something the school (a private school) may want to implement around the country in their other schools.”

Prior to Cichoracki's return to the states after his original trip, he was told the schools wanted a “more western English language classroom.” As a new teacher, he is finds it invigorating to able to bring fresh ideas to the classroom and work with the school to improve their English classes.

Dr. Karen Paciorek, from the College of Education, currently teaches the course in International Teaching Experience at EMU. “There are a number of countries who want our students and graduates to teach in English. Some require teacher certification and others just want native English speakers. It can be a very exciting and inexpensive way to travel and see the world.”

Former student teacher, Gavin Harvey, (class of 2012) from Toledo, Ohio is back in China as well. He is thoroughly enjoying the experience and the opportunity it provides for growth, both for himself, and the students he works with. “My goal is to master the language while I’m here and see new sights.” As to his students, “They are becoming more confident in speaking English and are more open to a culture they have not had a full exposure to.”

Gavin also shared that he really enjoys living in China, “I went back because I love the country, the ease of living. Everywhere you go there is something new to see.”

According to Paciorek, the partnership provides benefits on both sides, “Our partner program sends high school graduates from China to attend college at EMU.”  The partnership allows college students from both counties to learn much in the exchange. Given the newness of the program, it just completed its first year, adjustments are still being made. However, the student response is clear: teaching abroad is an amazing life-changing experience.

EMU Foundation is located at 112 Welch Hall, 850 W. Cross St., Ypsilanti, MI, USA 48197 Phone: 734.484.1322