Meet Diane Jaramillo, a biology teacher at BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour in China since 2021. With experience working in four different countries, Diane shares why teaching overseas was the best decision she ever made. Not only did it allow her to travel and immerse herself in new cultures, but it also provided financial stability, all while doing what she loves: teaching. Read on to learn more about Diane’s experience teaching in China, working at a 5-day boarding school, and how her teaching practice has evolved during her time at BASIS International Schools.
What made you decide to pursue a career in education?
Honestly, I didn’t know at first that I wanted to be a teacher. I knew I liked listening to people and helping them solve problems. Originally I thought I wanted to be a counselor and figured I could teach while completing the requirements for a school counselor position, but as soon as I was in the classroom with the students, I knew this was it for me and didn’t need to seek out any other career path. I loved helping students become passionate about learning and also helping them see different paths as they navigate life. Fast forward through 18 years of teaching middle/high school, and I still feel the same exact way.
What influenced you to teach abroad? Why in China?
I had always been passionate about travel but never had the income to do it. I had been teaching at a public school in San Diego, California, for five years when I first heard about international teaching and job hiring fairs. It sounded perfect; traveling, full benefits including housing, and I get to do what I love. So, I took a leap and went for it. It was the best decision I ever made. After 11 years of international teaching, I have called four different countries home, met my husband, and made amazing friends who are like family, all while doing what I love: teaching.
Choosing China seemed a little risky since there were still many COVID restrictions in China when we joined BASIS in 2021, but the amazing community and experience at BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour, which is sitting on a beautiful beach surrounded by mountains, was an easy choice for us. China is also extremely safe, has friendly people, and has many different regions to travel and explore, and you can truly get anything you need or want here. We are so glad we made this choice.
What do you enjoy most about teaching internationally?
I love learning about different cultures and meeting new people from all over the world. I enjoy traveling and exploring many times each year, all while still saving for retirement. Most of all, I enjoy getting to know different students and learning from them about their lives.
What do you enjoy most about working in an international boarding school?
This is my first time working at a 5-day international boarding school, and I am surprised how fast the day goes. It feels like summer camp and really creates a family-like atmosphere. I do not live on campus, but the students do. Since the students are here all the time, it creates new opportunities and bonding experiences with the students. For example, the Biology Club I advise hosted a “Biology Extravaganza Night” where students could come and experience six different labs during the evening study hall. The boarding students are very independent, but at times they need a parent, and you are the closest thing to that at a boarding school. This interaction creates a special relationship between you and the students.
When you came to China, what was pleasantly surprising?
When I first came to China, I was pleasantly surprised about how many beautiful places there are—beautiful natural landscapes in the country and amazing architecture in the cities. All these different environments are amazing to travel to and explore. I was also surprised by how easy it is to get local and international products here, which was not the case in the previous three countries where I lived. It feels very comforting to know that if I need something, I can get it here. Finally, I was very surprised about how wonderful our beach community is at BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour. It is a wonderful place to live and work. I didn’t know they had beaches like this in China.
What type of support did you receive from BASIS to ease the transition of moving overseas?
The BASIS HR team was fantastic at supporting our move to China. They were kind and patient and really made us feel welcome. They guided us through the entire visa process. BASIS International Schools also provides relocation benefits to help you have the funds to transport your personal belongings and also purchase new items when you arrive. I was in communication with my administration and department before I arrived, as well as the school hosted a new hire professional development the week before the returning staff arrived. We felt supported and welcomed every step of the way with BASIS.
How has your teaching practice improved during your time at BASIS?
BASIS students are high-level learners. They need to be challenged in different ways as they learn the rigorous BASIS Curriculum. My time at BASIS has helped me to fine-tune my teaching practice in differentiation and create experiences that challenge my high-level learners.
What advice would you give to teachers who are considering working overseas?
DO IT! You will not regret it. Teaching overseas has opened up the world for me in a way I could never have imagined, AND it is financially lucrative, which is not something I could have said as a previous public school teacher from the United States.
For more information about teaching overseas with BASIS International Schools, visit our careers website.