ESL etc.

Global Issues and Activism in English Language Teaching

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Beyond the Sky and the Earth

June 1st, 2011 · No Comments

Unsurprisingly, I’m a huge fan of first-person narratives by people in foreign lands. I’ve read (and enjoyed) a number of these, including Turtle Feet (India), River Town (China), The Roads to Sata (Japan), and Surviving Paradise (the Marshall Islands). I recently discovered a new favorite in the genre.

Beyond the Sky and the Earth describes Jamie Zeppa’s experience teaching English in Bhutan in the late eighties and early nineties. She goes through the usual stages of honeymoon, disillusionment and acceptance, and she does so with an exceptional degree of awareness and nuance. Bhutan has always been a place that I was particularly curious about, and Zeppa does a wonderful job capturing what it was like in both rural and not-so-rural areas. I was surprised (though I shouldn’t have been) how similar it seemed (at times) to areas I have visited on the Tibetan Plateau.

I was also extremely pleased when I realized that the program she participated in is still active: Teach in Bhutan is still placing teachers throughout Bhutan. Maybe I’ll make it there yet…

Tags: teacher stories

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