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June 19, 2013
By Philip Gruenwald, media relations assistant
Two years ago, Northwest Missouri State University alumna Amanda Engelhart would not have pictured herself teaching English 6-year-old students in South Korea. The Master of Business Administration graduate has taught a class of 14 children, since early March, and she looks forward to the rest of her one-year term as a homeroom teacher.
International business was not on Engelhart’s radar as an undergraduate student. The dream to study abroad struck her like lightning during an international business class in fall 2010. She was one year away from graduating with marketing and management degrees. Soon, she was on her way to Sweden.
Engelhart studied abroad in Sweden in Spring 2011, graduated with undergraduate degrees in marketing and management, returned for graduate school in Fall 2011 and graduated with a Master of Business Administration in Fall 2012. She has been in South Korea since late February.
“Sweden is a bilingual society, meaning they speak Swedish and English,” Engelhart, a native of St. Michael, Minn., said. “So these students are coming from Germany and Spain and all over. They were trying to improve their English and were asking me, ‘Can you proofread this for me? How do you say this? What’s the word for this?’”
Engelhart returned to Northwest for graduate school in fall 2011, imbued with a desire for international travel. As a graduate assistant in the study abroad office, Engelhart loved helping students register for trips of their own, but was anxious to see the world again. Study Abroad Coordinator Jeaneth Puriel and Director of International Affairs Jeffrey Foot knew of an English teaching opportunity with children in South Korea. A few emails and phone call interviews later, Engelhart was packing her bags for another international excursion.
“When I was earning my undergraduate degrees in marketing and management, the last thing on my mind was teaching 6-year-olds,” Engelhart said. “But there are actually a lot of ways I’m growing through this. One is my cultural education from being here.”
Eastern Asian schools frequently hire Americans to help students speak English comfortably. Engelhart is following in the footsteps of Northwest alumna Rachel Sneed, a 2011 graduate from Smithville, who recently began her career as a music educator, teaching K-12 music in China.
“I tried to teach the students how to tell time,” Engelhart said. “That’s a challenge in itself, but on top of that I’m also teaching them the language. It’s very enjoyable, the kids are awesome and I work with great people.”
As a homeroom teacher, Engelhart educates her students from 9:50 a.m. to 3 p.m. in motor and behavioral skills, music, reading and writing. She has a new respect for Northwest faculty, especially when teaching material that “isn’t always fun for my students.” Engelhart draws from her well-rounded Northwest education to make her instruction cohesive and effective.
“The skills and time management I learned in college have helped me a ton,” Engelhart said. “You have to be organized when teaching a bunch of different classes and what you’re teaching that day, so my management and organizational coursework helped a lot in that regard.”
After her one-year teaching term, Engelhart has the option to renew her contract. Whether she stays or not, she is unquestionably hooked on international travel. Her first taste in Sweden made her realize how much she wants to pursue international business in her future career, and her teaching opportunity in South Korea has solidified her desire for international travel. Her advice for Northwest students is direct and concise.“I absolutely recommend gaining international experience,” Engelhart said. “This is a great way for me to figure out what I want to do and get a better understanding on what my strengths are. At the same time, I’m in a different country, saving money, getting a great experience and still getting to travel.”
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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