Leon, Nicaragua Teaching Q&A With Shelby Seavers
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
What is your citizenship?
What city and state are you from?
How old are you?
37 years old
What is your education level and background?
I graduated from the University of Memphis with a BA in Journalism. My concentration during college was advertising. After college, I began working at a local advertising agency, which lead me to my future in corporate America with Hilton Hotels.
Have you traveled abroad in the past?
I have traveled abroad on a rather limited scale compared to some of the amazing friends I have made on my most recent journey. It proves you don’t have to be an extreme traveler to be up for this adventure.
If you have traveled abroad in the past, where have you been?
I primarily had traveled for business to the UK and Singapore. A few leisure trips have included Bali, Dominican Republic, and St. Maarten. I like to think I traveled a bit more virtually through all the hotels I got to work with during my time at Hilton.
If you have studied abroad in the past, where did you study?
I unfortunately did not have the opportunity to study abroad during my time at university.
What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?
I had reached somewhat of a crossroads in my life where I was contemplating what I needed to do to make myself feel whole again. I had been in the whirlwind of corporate America for 11 years and I was at a point that I was feeling a bit beat down. I went to a friend’s wedding in the Dominican Republic as I was beginning this self-exploration. In talking to the staff of the resort, it became very evident to me that learning English was a tool and invaluable resource. English helped them secure better jobs, more income and stability for their family, opened doors, etc. It made me think – I know English, I could do this!
What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?
I know English… that’s the ONLY language I know! Anything else I can figure out, right?
What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching abroad?
I have an absolutely amazing support system of friends and family! They have been nothing but supportive of my decision. I believe that when a decision is right for you, your friends and family can do nothing but support you.
TEFL CLASS INFORMATION
Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy Nicaragua?
When I landed back in the States after my visit to the Dominican, I began researching how to get involved with teaching English abroad. ITA kept coming up in all my searches, so of course I had to check this place out. I reached out and was connected to my advisor, Matt. He was awesome, responsive, and patient. I felt confident after all my research ITA was the right fit for me and met the qualifications I was looking for in a program. He also informed me of the volunteer program they have in Leon after the course completion, and that ultimately made my decision for me.
Which TEFL certification course did you take?
I was certified through the four week in class certification course at the campus in Leon, Nicaragua.
How did you like the course?
The course was great, and I learned a ton! It is intense, so get ready, but worth every minute. The instructors were awesome mentors that helped us through the course and even after the four week course ended.
How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?
I could not have walked into a classroom and began to teach English without the knowledge that I learned during the certification course. It gave me the base knowledge and skills I needed to begin in my teaching career. I constantly pull from things I learned during training to utilize them during my English classes.
TEACHING ABROAD IN LEON, NICARAGUA
Which city and country did you decide to teach English in and why?
I am teaching in Leon, Nicaragua. Leon captured my heart! If you had asked me when I came down for the course in June 2014 if I was staying I probably would have said no. I came with intentions of exploration, and only staying a few months. Six months later, I have come home for Christmas and have a return flight to Leon. The people of Leon are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet. I love the importance of family and the fun holidays and celebrations. I have learned a lot about the community, but so much more I want to learn… and definitely I need to learn more Spanish! There is an intensely strong sense of community as well. To find out more about the Nicaraguan English teaching job market, click here.
How long have you been in this country and how long do you plan to stay?
This is a very popular question. I have been in the country six months. I am not putting a timeline on how long I am staying or what my next steps will be. I will take it as the opportunities present themselves.
What school, company, or program are you working for?
I am currently working for El Ayudante, which is a non-profit organization which partners with families to improve their quality of life and to give them opportunities to rise above poverty and succeed. It has been an exciting opportunity to work with the children of Leon. I also teach English classes that are offered for the community at the Nicaragua TEFL Campus . This gives me the ability to work with adults throughout the community, as well as students coming through the certification course. Students being certified through ITAN will participate in practicum classes with these students, and at the Centro de Idiomas-UNAN Leon. I also will be participating in a volunteer program in 2015 to work with a group in the Veracruz and Sebaco areas in the beginning of the year to teach English.
How did you get your work visa? If you didn’t get a work visa, please elaborate on working under the table without a work visa.
I am currently working on tourist visa which is renewed every 90 days. The last time I had to renew I renewed in Nicaragua, which can be done once a year in Nicaragua.
Tell us about your English teaching job!
Worthwhile, refreshing, joyful, amazing, rewarding, challenging, fun, exciting, useful… those are just a few words that come to mind. I work with the children of El Ayudante on their English and it is humbling to see the excitement on their little faces when it is their day for English class. It is thrilling when I hear them using what they have learned with visitors to the campus. With the students at ITAN, it is rewarding when they come to me and are eager to learn more or want to bring other friends to the class.
How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like? Do you have roommates?
I live with a local family who rents out several rooms in their home. It is a large home for the Leon area in which I have my own room and bath. I found it with the help of the ITAN staff.
COUNTRY INFORMATION – FUN!
Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, and travel opportunities in your country:
I am a weirdo… I haven’t taken the buses much but apparently it is really easy and super cheap. Buses freak me out even in the US. I think that has to change in 2015. Cabs are super easy and pretty inexpensive. I take a cab to El Ayudante and it is usually 30 Cordobas each way(about $1.13).
I feel like there is always something going on in Leon. There is always good live music or somewhere to dance. Leon is home to many of Nicaragua’s most famous artists, poets and musicians, so you can imagine the talent you can find in the area! There are still lots of places for me to visit and see outside of the Leon area, but this city has offered so much, I have had a hard time getting out.
I love walking down the street and hearing the friendly ‘Adios Chelvy’ or the warm greeting from the neighborhood barista. I love that people come out to sit in their rocking chairs at night to chat with their families and bring the neighborhood to life.
What are your monthly expenses?
Currently my rent is $170 a month (includes room and laundry) and I spend about $300 on food and entertainment.
How would you describe your standard of living?
My standard of living is pretty nice. The house I live is a really nice home by Leon standards and if I am honest I probably go out to dinner/ drinks more than I should.
In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?
I think you could earn $400 – $500 and be comfortable.
ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE TEACHERS IN NICARAGUA
What advice would you give someone planning on considering teaching abroad?
This is my advice… don’t ask why or why not, ask when!
Would you recommend teaching in your country?
Absolutely! Nicaragua is an untapped treasure in Central America. It is an amazing place, full of wonderful people and sites to see.
Click here to see what another Leon TEFL graduate, Chelsea, has to say in her Q&A interview about teaching English in Nicaragua!