My name is Richard Vigilante and I am a founding mathematics teacher at BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour. I am currently in my 16th year of teaching; the last three of which I spent living and teaching abroad. I believe that there will be a handful of major events/choices in one’s life that will forever impact their journey. My choice arose in 2018 when I decided to embark on the adventure of being an expatriate teacher. This has been one of the best choices I’ve ever made.

Travel and Adventure

Many friends and family ask “why” I chose to teach abroad. One of the first reasons was the ability to travel. In my first year and a half of living abroad, I was able to travel to a number of countries, which included Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Philippines, and Indonesia. I learned to scuba dive in the Philippines, tried fire spinning in Thailand, scuba dived with giant manta rays and saw Komodo Dragons in Indonesia; and am learning how to snowboard here in China. Below are a few photos from my travels outside of China:

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam - expat teacher travels

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Angkor Wat Temple - expat teacher travel pics

Angkor Wat Temple, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Sanctuary of Truth, Thailand

Koh Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

Scuba diving near Komodo, Indonesia

Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan

Even with COVID-19 restricting international travel, I have still been able to explore many diverse provinces and cities in China. From the beautiful mountains of Zhangjiajie in Hunan, to the frigid temperatures of Harbin in Heilongjiang, to the spicy hotpot of Chengdu in Sichuan, to relaxing (or partying) on the beaches of Sanya in Hainan, and back home to Huizhou in Guangdong; the adventure doesn’t stop. Moving to China has given me the opportunity to experience so many new things…and I’m not even done with my third year. Below are a few pictures from my travels within China:

Chengdu Panda Reserve - expat teacher travels

Panda Reserve, Chengdu

Shanghai Skyline

Dunhuang Desert

Ancient Phoenix Town, Fenghuang

Beachside and Boardwalk, Sanya

Hallelujah Mountains, Zhangjiajie

Frozen Park and Ice Festival, Harbin

School Community and Classroom Life

While the travel and leisure activities are great, the majority of our time is dedicated to the students and the school. This is the real draw of working here. The students, parents, and community are fantastic. The student body at BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour is filled with learners from varying academic and linguistic backgrounds. Students are engaged, enthusiastic to learn, and very respectful. I am able, and encouraged, to incorporate fun ideas into my classroom, allowing me to turn lessons into exciting adventures that the students enjoy. Check out my pirate journey through Algebra in this post.

Administration is supportive and the school hosts a variety of events and festivities for both students and teachers to enjoy. The Chinese New Year celebration is amazing and gets better every year. Halloween is another annual event that brings parents, students, and teachers together; it’s a lot of fun and everyone gets into the spirit. During the pandemic, the BASIS Global/Ascend Education Group leadership were incredibly supportive with helping teachers navigate the hardships. Overall, I feel very supported here at BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour, and in China.

BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour Halloween 2020

BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour Halloween, 2020

Park Lane Harbour Community and Location

Traveling around the world isn’t the only thing keeping me here. BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour is located in a beautiful beach community, and that means stunning views. Check out the view from my balcony:

Living in Park Lane Harbour is incredibly relaxing. We are a moment’s walk from various restaurants, shops, and the beach. Besides just lounging around on the sand, many of us teachers enjoy beach volleyball and Frisbee. Interested in kicking it up a notch? You can rent a small yacht for a quick party out at sea. For those weekends where the sand doesn’t cut it, we are only a 90-minute bus ride from Shenzhen, 120-minute rail ride from Guangzhou, and a 150-minute flight from Shanghai. In fact, Hong Kong is less than two-hours (car and rail) from my door to the heart of downtown.

The surrounding community is filled with people who are mostly friendly and helpful. Navigating around takes a little practice at first, but once you get it locked down, you’ll be exploring like a pro. Within a one or two hour drive you will be able to find historic temples, hiking, abandoned villages, fish markets, farm fields, and so much more. As you can imagine, communicating with the local community can be challenging if you don’t speak Mandarin. That being said, that language barrier is navigable through the use of various translation features found on the apps WeChat and Google Translate.

The teachers we work with aren’t just colleagues, they’re friends and family. We have various teacher sports teams which include running, basketball, and volleyball. There’s a great community of runners, bikers, boaters, and gym-goers. Last year, I was able to train up and run my first half-marathon. This year, I’m getting ready for my first ever 20 km trail run. I also plan on training for an upcoming marathon, which will take place on the Great Wall in Beijing. For those days I would prefer relaxing inside, we have movie and board game nights. We have such a diverse group of people on our campus that there is definitely going to be something for everyone.

Shenzhen Half Marathon, 2019

Shenzhen Half Marathon, 2019

Relocating to a foreign country is a big move; it’s not easy, can at times be scary, and things are definitely different from back home. However, if you are open to trying new things, are interested in learning about a different culture, expanding your career, and are seeking the adventure of a lifetime, then this is the place for you. As a new teacher, please feel free to reach out to me at any time if you have any questions or concerns; I would be happy to help out.

Dr. Richard Vigilante teaches Algebra 2 at BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour and is a founding member of faculty.

For more information about careers with BASIS International Schools, visit our careers website.

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