For the second installment of our Meet the Teacher series, we get to know one of our Early Years teachers. Alejandro Cuetos is a Kindergarten teacher at BASIS International School Shenzhen. Originally from Spain, he has been teaching abroad for over 12 years, and this is his third year with BASIS International Schools.
What made you decide to go into teaching?
I always wanted to be a teacher. I remember when I was a little boy, my brother and I used to play with our Star Wars toys. My brother would come up with all these battles and plans to defeat the dark side. However, I preferred to sit all the figures around me and teach them whatever I learned that day in school. I would teach the lesson, ask them questions, and even send them to the principal, Yoda, when they made bad choices. My brother still reminds me every once in awhile how boring it was to play with me when we were kids.
When did you first realize you had a passion for early education?
I began my teaching career as an art teacher. When I was first offered a teaching position as a kindergarten teacher, I wasn’t very sure about it. Then I actually stepped into the classroom and instantly fell in love with it. Now I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. Teaching Early Years is the most rewarding job I ever had. This is my seventh year of teaching kindergarten and I hope I can do this for many years to come until I retire!
What influenced your decision to teach abroad?
I love exploring countries and learning about different cultures. Teaching abroad allows me to live in countries I find interesting and get to know their culture and people.
What do you enjoy most about teaching internationally?
The best thing about teaching internationally is the bond I create with my students. Not just with the students, but also with their parents. It makes me feel so happy to keep in touch with students I had six years ago, meet up sometimes, and check how they are doing. I have one student from my first year in China, we still meet regularly, they send me postcards when they travel, and we have even been on holiday together.
When you came to China, what did you find pleasantly surprising that you didn’t expect?
Many things. I moved to China after living in Singapore for two years, so the expectations were really high. I found everything was very easy from the beginning, from the visa process to finding an apartment, etc. Life has been very easy in China, even with very little knowledge of the language. Navigating the cities, getting food, technology, people, shopping, traveling. Definitely one of my biggest surprises was how safe China is. I have traveled a lot within China for the past seven years and I have always felt very safe. No matter in a big city like Shanghai, or in the middle of nowhere in the countryside.
What advice would you give teachers who are considering teaching abroad?
I would say stop considering and give it a try, you will never regret it! This is an amazing experience and you never know where it will take you. I was terrified the first time I left my country and kept telling myself, it is just for a couple of years and I’ll come back. Now, China is country number seven that I’ve been working in, and I am still not ready to go back to Spain. Teaching abroad is the best decision I have ever made.
The first installment in the Meet the Teacher series can be found here.