I will never forget being straight out of graduate school and looking into teaching abroad. It seemed so out of reach and unattainable. I didn’t even know where to begin. I had no experience, fresh out of school, and student loans to pay, so of course, I chose the best offer I received right away back in Arizona. Years went by, life happened, I always had that longing to go teach and live somewhere else, and experience something new. It was upon my good fortune that I found BASIS in Arizona, which led me to my dream of someday becoming an international teacher.
I began at BASIS Phoenix Central in the fall of 2018. I immediately enjoyed the rigor and challenge of working at BASIS. Everything about it invigorated my passion for teaching. I loved working alongside talented educators and felt like I was really helping my students learn to the best of their ability. I knew for a fact that BASIS was the perfect fit for me. I eagerly attended the BASIS Summer Institute and saw a beautiful video promoting working at a new BASIS International School in Thailand (BASIS International School Bangkok). I thought to myself, “Wow, teaching in Thailand would be incredible!” but still thought it was out of my reach as a newbie at BASIS. Something kept it in the back of my mind however. When I received an email around October to apply for the position, I didn’t skip a beat. I applied and hoped for the best, I really didn’t think I had much of a shot.
A month later, I received an email from the BASIS International School Bangkok Head of School, Elizabeth Thies. I nearly lost it, I was so excited! She wanted an interview with me as soon as possible. Our interview was lovely, even though I mixed up the time difference and was incredibly nervous. I was thinking there was no way I got the job, but to my joy, Elizabeth set up a second interview nearly a month later, to announce I got the job! I was so surprised and excited, I nearly passed out! This was the beginning of a story and a beautiful journey, I never could have imagined.
The memory of getting onto the plane will always be fresh in my mind. My friends and family kept talking about me going, I even had a few going away parties, but it literally didn’t sink in until I stepped on the plane. My future was about to change drastically, for the best! I will never forget the excitement and that feeling in my stomach getting on that plane and seeing Arizona and the life I had always known, fade away like the sunset. I had no idea what voyage of a lifetime I was about to embark upon! Boy was I in for it! Once I arrived in Bangkok, the first people I met at 1 a.m. Bangkok time, was Elizabeth Thies, the BASIS International School Bangkok Head of School, and Amanda, the Head of Operations, waiting at the airport to greet me with open arms. Even though I was deliriously tired from my 17 hour flight, my ride through Bangkok was mesmerizing. I still remember looking out my taxi window in wonder.
Teaching in Thailand
Since then, it has been the adventure of a lifetime! I have had the pleasure of learning a new culture, being welcomed by students from vastly different backgrounds and languages from mine, working with incredible colleagues from all walks of life, and having worked hard to help take part in the opening of a gorgeous international school. I have learned a lot about the rich and brilliant history and culture of Thailand from my lovely students and Thai colleagues. Our Thai teachers give daily classes on Thai Language and Culture and organize traditional Thai events for our school such as Wai Kru and Loy Krathong. I have learned how to speak some basic Thai and make some staple dishes from our beloved Kru Pook and my students explain to me how to Wai. The students are so darling and respectful, so eager to learn, and I feel well supported by their families, my wonderful colleagues, and my administration. It truly has become a home away from home.
Beyond my professional life, which has been both a pleasure and a privilege, I have seen and experienced many new things. I have tried lots of Thai cuisine, am learning Thai, have taken up the sport of Muay Thai, and have seen many beautiful places in this amazing country. I worked and spent weekends on a farm-stay in the Keang Krachan jungle, battling snakes and giant spiders over coffee while enjoying the serenity of the country’s largest nature preserve.
I have ventured to enchanting Chiang Mai to hike, paddle board, and kayak, enjoying the regional beauty and cuisine. I have gone to the islands and snorkeled and scuba dived in the beauty of some of the world’s prettiest reefs. I have zoomed around the city on motorbikes, enjoying the skyline and Bangkok’s legendary nightlife. I have run many long distance races in the country, valuing the pristine lakes, waterfalls, and jungles. Taking the train to Lopburi was a magical journey as was the rough speedboat ride to Koh Tao.
Of all the magic and the mystery that Thailand has brought me however, nothing has matched the beautiful friendships I have made. I have met the most incredible people from all over the world. All whom will make a lasting imprint on my heart and soul forever. I will never be able to replace these memories and it is all of my gratitude that I find myself and my heart here in beautiful Thailand.
Selby Ferris is an Elementary Learning Expert Teacher at BASIS International School Bangkok. Ms. Ferris was one of the founding teachers at the school in 2019.
Learn more about BASIS International School Bangkok and career opportunities in Thailand on our careers website.