Meet The International TEFL Academy Staff
What is your role at international TEFL Academy?
What's Your Story?
I was born and raised in Minnesota with a spirit of curiosity, a heart for adventure, and a penchant for exploring a world beyond cornfields and dairy farms. One of the greatest gifts my mother bestowed upon me was the gift of a library card, which I used weekly to check out encyclopedias, books, and National Geographic magazines. Photographers, like Annie Griffith, brought an exotic world to life in the comforts of my own idyllic countryside back-yard. Ask anyone in my family and they’ll often describe me as a child full of questions with a pen, notebook, and camera in tow.
Since wanderlust runs in the family, I often fulfilled my traveling dreams by accompanying my grandparents on journeys out West to Washington, Montana, Utah, and the Dakotas. I would also join my dad on his long-haul trucking trips to California or the Southwest. In college, I worked for a non-profit who organized service-learning trips around the US. By the time I reached 23, I had traveled to 48 out of the 50 states (sans Alaska and Hawaii).
After college, I knew I wanted to set new goals by traveling to all 7 continents. With a love for education and a passion for travel, I left Minneapolis and a job I loved to teach abroad in South Korea. While abroad in Korea, I was able to travel extensively in SE Asia and Central Asia. I met so many wonderful people, ate my weight in kimchi and pajeon, climbed new heights (literally), and became fascinated with Korean beauty products. Many of the people I met abroad changed my life, and I consider them to be a part of my chosen family today. The experiences you will encounter while living and teaching abroad are endless, memorable, and life-changing… so long as you have an open mind and heart, an appetite for learning, and a valid passport.
Traveling is more than collecting another stamp in my passport; it is my lifeblood and a ticket to navigate a world filled with rich culture, history, language, people, and knowledge. Through traveling, I have become more open-minded, adaptable, independent, self-reliant, and patient.
Jen taught English in South Korea!
Where are you from, where did you go to college & what did you major in at college?
I’m originally from Wells, MN. I studied at the University of MN- Morris and have a BA in Psych/Sociology, MA in Strategic Leadership, and an MBA from Bethel University. Next up I will either be a Juris Doctorate or a Ph.D.
What countries have you visited?
South Korea, Thailand, Cambodia, Philippines, Kenya, England, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Mexico, Costa Rica, Japan, China, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia, Turkey, Italy
What's next on your list?
Scotland, Morocco, and Liechtenstein
Where have you lived, worked or traveled abroad long-term?
My long-term travel experience came to fruition with teaching English abroad in Ilsan, South Korea. I taught privately in a hagwon for 1.5 years and then made the decision to backpack across S.E. Asia until my bank account dried up. I loved everything about Korean culture, but I would have to say that a favorite experience were the intimate connections built around food and drinking. I love how food can often be the common denominator across many cultures.
What was one of your most memorable travel experiences?Always buy health insurance while traveling! I learned this lesson the hard way (if not multiple times). The experience that changed my mind was after an unfortunate motorcycle accident while exploring Bali. I flipped my motorcycle after hitting a pothole while crossing a small country road that is known as a dangerous “short-cut” between two mountains. I was trapped underneath my bike for an hour and suffered some serious scrapes, bruises, and cuts on my legs. Thankfully, I had a first aid kit with me and ended up giving myself stitches. However, one of the cuts on my ankle became infected with staph and I spent a lot of money, time, and resources trying to get it healed (in a tropical climate). I ended up being hospitalized and had to be treated with antibiotics. I have a pretty cool scar to this day but had I purchased health insurance, I would have treated the infection sooner and more peace of mind while traveling.
What is your favorite international cuisine?
Kimchi jiggae, mandu, and some mekju!
Why do you like working at International TEFL Academy?
Traveling allows you to become a permanent story-teller and connector; the experiences one encounters abroad will forever change them and those who listen. I love being able to listen to our students and what inspires them to go abroad to teach, travel, and explore. My colleagues have diverse perspectives and walks of life; it’s fascinating to hear about their global experiences and how each of them responded to a life of adventure.