Meet Joshua Martin, Athletic Director and History teacher at BASIS International & Bilingual School Chengdu. For Joshua, traveling and exploring new cultures is more than a dream–it’s his reality. When it came to choosing an international destination for teaching abroad, China felt like home due to its cultural familiarity as well as the connections he made while studying abroad during college.
Joshua is joined at BASIS by his wife, Sam Martin, who is a Physical Education Teacher, and their young son. As founding faculty members at BASIS International & Bilingual School Chengdu, Joshua and Sam are excited to build a school culture where students are eager to learn. Read more about Joshua’s thoughts on teaching abroad, what he loves about living in China, and more.
What made you decide to pursue a career in education?
I grew up in Vicksburg, Mississippi, a historical city because of the US Civil War. I have always loved history and sports and have always had a passion for working with youth. I did not know this would lead me to be a teacher, though. I had many conversations with teachers and friends who worked in other areas of work. I started to consider teaching to inspire and impact the lives of young people. I knew that I could use the education platform to impact the lives of young people and be involved in sports. I decided to pursue this after college and have not regretted that choice.
What influenced you to teach abroad? Why in China?
While I was in college, I was able to go to China during a Christmas trip that an organization I was a part of offered, and I was able to hang out with some college students in China for a couple of weeks. I had a taste of the culture, and I loved it. While I was in high school, my mentor worked in an organization that sent college students to China to run English camps during the summer. I volunteered to go one summer and loved being in China even more. I went a couple more summers, and the principal at one of the schools wanted me to come and work for his school. I prayed about it, did some more research on China, and felt like it was the right thing to do.
What has been most rewarding about being part of the founding faculty at a new BASIS school?
Being able to impact students and better their lives is rewarding. The students at BASIS are yearning to learn and want to do better in their academics. Many students also want to be on sports teams, and it is amazing to see them want to improve at every practice and game. It is nice to be in a school with colleagues who will support you and encourage you in everything you do. Everyone is in the same situation because we are all starting this school from the beginning, and we all take pride in that.
When you came to China, what was pleasantly surprising?
When I moved to China in August 2012, I found living in China easy because of the ease of traveling within the cities and the country. In the US, you must drive to get anywhere in most cities. The underground systems are great. The taxi systems are easy to use and are great once you get used to the driving here. It is easy to take a train or fly almost anywhere in China.
I found that people here are friendly and very welcoming. They will welcome you into their homes, feed you some of the best food you will ever taste, and you will not leave with an empty stomach.
What type of support did you receive from BASIS to ease the transition of moving overseas?
BASIS was great and very helpful when we moved from Shanghai to Chengdu. The HR department always communicated with us about what was needed and how we could get it. They were great with transitioning visas from our last school to BASIS, talking to HR to get the proper letters, and making the transfer easy. They made sure we were taken care of.
The founding Head of School, Dr. Ryan Kelly, was great. We had many conversations about what my classes would look like and the sports programs that we would like to have. He made us feel very comfortable coming to a new school and city. The head of divisions also helped answer many questions before we moved here. We felt like we knew what we would be doing before we arrived, making it easy to hit the ground running.
What is it like teaching abroad with a family?
It is great. We love working and having our son attend the same school together. The school allows us to volunteer by reading to his class when we can and it is okay with his teachers. It is our son’s first year in school, and he loves it. His teachers are great, and he loves being at school. He is always singing new songs he learned in class. He loves his teachers and that brings us joy. It is good to work with my wife as well. I love seeing her interact with the students and seeing how much they admire and love her. If I was not working with her, I would not be able to see this side of her. My wife and son can go to many sporting events to support me. Having them there means the world to the students and me.
Additionally, living abroad also allows us to travel together and experience new things together. It is easy to see a different part of China and to visit other countries. Getting around China and having our family share something new every holiday is easy and affordable. Seeing our son experience new things while living and traveling abroad brings us joy.
How has your teaching practice improved during your time at BASIS?
I have been able to work with many colleagues and ask them questions about new teaching methods. BASIS makes it easy to make time to learn from other colleagues by talking to them and by observing them in lessons. BASIS teachers have the opportunity to meet with the heads of division and be proactive in how they are teaching and how they can improve.
What advice would you give to teachers who are considering working overseas?
DO. IT. It will change your life and your family’s lives. I am a firm believer that if people will get out of their comfort zones, they will grow as a person and can reach their potential. Leaving the comfort of your home country will be tough, but working overseas will be rewarding professionally and personally. Research the country and school where you want ot go to learn what it is like and the culture of the city and country. You will find out that it is different, but different is not always bad. Working overseas made me a better person, husband, and friend. I have enjoyed it, and I know others will as well. All they must do is take the plunge and do it.
Mr. Joshua Martin
Athletic Director and History Teacher
BASIS International & Bilingual School Chengdu
For more information about teaching overseas with BASIS International Schools, visit our careers website.