Here, individuals tell their own meaningful stories of growth and positivity during the pandemic and the lockdowns. They share their unique stories hoping to inspire us and encourage you to share your own experience. As you read, you will get to know each individual better and their stories can serve as inspiration for you to grow a garden, cook something new, write a book… The possibilities are endless.
Kate Osman ~ Red Room Freedom to Write Intern 2021
Jess Gosling, a published author, and international teacher, shared her story with me:
In England, over ten years ago, Jess Gosling and her current husband decided to pursue a teaching career abroad. She went on to teach in Vietnam and Egypt. Now, in Taiwan, where a recent surge in COVID-19 cases resulted in a level three lockdown, she was able to complete her book on becoming an international teacher.
Anxiety for the pandemic started to sink in when one of Jess’s close friends decided to fly out of Taiwan when COVID-19 began spreading. Thankfully her school decided to close, Jess and her spouse who are both teachers at the school and have a daughter attending were quite relieved to begin “home-learning” as soon as the virus started to spread, but the downside was as Jess says, “everything paused and there was not really anything to direct energy into since everyone was quite frightened to go out and do anything”. However, this “pause” of inactivity created a time and space for Jess to let her writing “flow” and ultimately resulted in her book, Becoming a Successful International School Teacher.
Jess’s Book, Becoming a Successful International School Teacher
“What ended up as a book was initially just research for me.” Jess’s ten months of copious research, which involved inquiries to forums, questions to colleagues, and deep dives into countless Facebook groups eventually compiled into the length of a full book that was worth publishing for others to read. She markets the book to people, who like her younger self, hope to join the international teaching community and “don’t have a lot of time or money”. Her book provides in-depth information from how to begin a teaching career abroad, to the issues with housing in a foreign country. The main aim of her book is to give hope to others who are interested in pursuing the same career she has, which Jess relates to deeply— “I heard some say that the education system has been getting better but I see online that people are still quite unhappy in the UK”.
“I love being in a different culture and I love teaching kids from all over the world.”
Home learning, at times, has not been easy for Jess and her students. Jess stresses the importance of having face-to-face interactions with others, especially for younger kids like her daughter and students. She says, “it has been a challenge but we worked around it with activities for students to complete with their parents at home that consist of interesting activities to involve the family”. Even though Jess believes her video-call-evolved teaching works, she still hopes “that we go back to face to face” teaching.
The pandemic has been challenging for Jess as a teacher, but it has also allowed her as a mother to see what her daughter is capable of and her adaptability. “Overall I think it’s (online learning) not a good way for kids” since in-person interactions are so important for younger children. To keep in touch with her family in the UK, Jess regularly calls and is especially fond of her daughter and her mother’s connection during these difficult times. “She (Jess’s mother) will read bedtime stories to her (Jess’s daughter) and sometimes do crafts together and they’ve kept their relationship strong.”
“As an international teacher, a really big part of what you want to do is to go and explore and travel… going off and discovering other places and countries.”
The realization of the reality of the pandemic preventing that exploration and discovery Jess mentioned can be extremely difficult.
Jess Gosling’s story during this time of unfamiliar online teaching and decreased interpersonal interactions stands out, as it not only involves an amazing accomplishment of her own, her helpful and detailed book, but also demonstrates the resilience of herself and her students. Her story can also be a sign of hope and motivation for us to take advantage of these difficult times and focus on ourselves while doing the best we can to stay connected with those around us.
Jess’s book, Becoming a Successful International Teacher
Twitter: JessGosling 2.
You are more than welcome to come forward and share your story with us, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. The only requirement is that it is personal and meaningful to you— just email firstname.lastname@example.org