I would also appreciate it very much if you invited me to your book fair or school any time to speak about international teaching and you will forgive me if I try to sell a book or two to your staff at the same time!
After reading this blog for a while, I hope you are really tempted to go and teach in Asia. Teaching at an international school with teachers form all over the world is truly a fascinating experience that all teachers should take on at least once in a lifetime. I assure you that you will have stories to last your the rest of your life. In fact, my book, It All Started In Mandalay is just that, a bunch of stories I have accumulated over the last ten years. A group of teachers from all over the world come together as strangers and leave as family. Each story is more fascinating than the one before and you have a constant stream of stories about love, sex, tragedy, humour and fascinating family history. If you have not done it yet, you must. Have a look at my book, preferably buy a copy, read it and then get on that plane! Alternatively, you may decide to read it on the plane.
Thank you Kim for telling me how emotional you got at the death of one of the characters. It lightens my heart that you could really get into the story. Now I want to introduce you to another character I created who actually owned a school, a few actually.
Caleb, whose company managed the school, was a larger than life character, both literally and figuratively. Even at birth he was a big baby, weighing over ten pounds. His father was out of the country over three hundred days of the year, and as an only son Caleb was expected to be the man of the house, including making all the financial decisions. Caleb had to write reports to his father explaining any major expenditure, the rationale for the decision, how the money was spent, and a cost benefit analysis.
It was not surprising to anyone who knew him when Caleb took a Master’s degree in Business Administration at the London School of Economics which was a major achievement for a Chinese boy coming from Singapore. Caleb enjoyed numbers very much, and he was glad his father gave him so much early training in business.
After university Caleb went into insurance where he was totally in his element. With his knowledge of many Chinese dialects including his “Singlish,” as well as his ability to explain all of the difficult insurance terms in a way his customers could understand, he was an immediate success.
He spent most week-ends away either in Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur and stayed at the best hotels. If he had an especially good customer, he often took him with him and supplied the basic necessities of life for any Asian: good food, good drink and a good massage. He was always the life of the party and often drank with his buddies until the wee hours of the morning. He spent a fortune buying dinner and drinks for his friends, but he also made a fortune because of the good will he was banking.
He loved having clothes made to measure, especially in Bangkok, where the tailors were expert and the costs so much lower than Singapore. One Sunday morning, he remembered waking with two beautiful women in his bed. At least, they certainly felt beautiful; he could not really see them without his glasses. There was a knock on the door and made his way to the entrance hall. Someone who looked vaguely familiar was standing there with two suits in hand. The tailor assured Caleb that he had ordered these two suits the night before and insisted he try them on. When they fit his 250 pound body, he knew he must have ordered them, and let the tailor throw in some shirts and ties as well.
On the plane back to Singapore that Sunday night, two suits richer, he started reflecting on his life. Was making a million Singapore dollars a year fulfilling enough, or was there more to life than money? As his father constantly told him, you could only eat three meals a day. In Caleb’s case that was a bit of an understatement but he got the point.