The Meet the Teacher series continues with BASIS International School Hangzhou Elementary Humanities teacher Thandiela Goldman. Ms. Goldman started her time with BASIS International School Hangzhou as a drama teacher, and is now teaching Elementary Humanities. Originally from South Africa, she has been teaching for 4 years and in addition to drama and elementary humanities, she has also taught AP level English. This is her first year with BASIS International Schools.

What made you decide to go into education?

My dream is to become a drama therapist. I needed to have experience in working with children before continuing my studies in this field. I thought teaching would offer me the perfect opportunity to understand what it would be like working with children and to gain experience in this area.

When did you first realize you had a passion for the humanities?

I studied Theatre and Performance in the hope of becoming an actor. However, during my second year of studies, I was introduced to something called community-based theatre. In this field, we used drama to teach students various things related to education and life skills. It was here that I realized that this was something that made me truly happy and I knew that this was the work I wanted to do after university.

What influenced your decision to teach abroad?

I had some friends who were planning to teach in China. Their excitement started to rub off on me. I realized that unlike my parents and their parents, I was part of a very lucky generation that allowed me to live and work anywhere in the world with little effort since everything has become very global. I felt a sense of freedom in this realization and wasted no time in applying for a job in China.

Ms. Goldman appearing as the Lord of Fortune as part of Chinese New Year celebrations.

What do you enjoy most about teaching internationally?

The thing I like the most about working abroad is meeting people from all over the world. This allows me to see how teaching is applied in various countries and contexts. I’ve learned so many new and applicable things since working in China and most certainly feel like I’ve become a better teacher for it.

When you came to China, what did you find pleasantly surprising that you didn’t expect?

The thing that truly impressed me the most, that I, rather ignorantly, didn’t expect was how technologically advanced life in China is. Alipay and Taobao blew my mind. Whenever I go home, I forget my wallet because I’m so used to using my phone to pay for everything here. I love scanning my phone when I get onto a bus or train and simply hearing a “bleep” which means I can travel safely without touching a ticket or using any coins.

What advice would you give teachers who are considering teaching abroad?

Don’t be scared. It truly is worth it. There is no end to the rewards you’ll reap by taking this step in your life and career. Just make super sure that the visa application process is legit. Some companies are less honest than others so do your research and talk to people already living and working in China for advice. As I was already living and working in China, the experience with getting a visa through BASIS International Schools was clear and direct. The visa department was super communicative and helpful.

Learn more about careers with BASIS International Schools on our careers website.

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