Meet First Year International Educator: Jessica Wei Huang

Why did you decide to teach overseas?

My spouse and I have been thinking about living overseas for many years before we made the move last year. First and foremost, as a couple raising biracial kids, we wanted to live in a Chinese-speaking or Spanish-speaking country so that our kids could learn in a truly bilingual environment. As a first-generation immigrant young person growing up in a mostly white American suburb, I wanted our kids to experience an environment that would help them grow into their identity (not one that would force assimilation). Secondly, as two overworked school administrators in San Francisco, our quality of life and family time had in recent years started to deteriorate, both from the cost of living in the Bay Area and from the emotional stress of our jobs as high school principals (in different schools) in a large urban district. We feel lucky to have both found jobs in Kaohsiung, Taiwan at the Kaohsiung American School.

Lastly, and perhaps most impactful to our decision for me to return to teaching was the demographic make-up of school administrators in International Schools was overwhelmingly male and white. Coming from San Francisco where being a female of color school principal was still not the norm but widely accepted, celebrated, and supported, this was both shocking and unsurprising to us. After careful consideration and joint discussions on our personal and professional goals, we decided that my spouse (who is male and white) would interview for school leader positions and that I would be more flexible about my position with the end goal being that the location of the school and the quality of life for ourselves and our children would be prioritized. Once we had our start in the International School circuit, we could be more intentional around our next steps.

 

What did you learn about yourself as a first year teacher?

After being a school administrator for the last seven years, teaching is still the hardest, and most rewarding job in the school building. I continue to believe that relationship-building and student leadership development, no matter the subject area is the most important part of being a teacher.

The year 2020 has been full of challenges, surprises, and personal growth for our entire family. I have immensely enjoyed returning to the classroom. Perhaps for the first time, I am teaching students who look like me. As one of the few Chinese-American faculty on staff, I’m proud to be able to connect to and build relationships with my school community in ways that uplift their identity. I am also looking forward to opportunities to work on more Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion work in the International School landscape. Returning to teaching at this time was the right decision for me. I have been able to build strong relationships with students and faculty in ways that would have been more challenging as a new administrator.

 

What advice would you give to others who are looking to teach overseas?

International Schools are by nature, tools of white supremacy and privilege. In areas of the world that are not Western European and North America, International schools are another form of colonization. Just as public schools in America were first built to educate the privileged and then to educate workers for the Industrial Revolution (thus, the factory mentality), we can decolonize educational spaces only when we know the history of the institutions in which we work. We can then imagine and create an alternative vision that serves the liberation and humanization of all people. If you are looking to teach anywhere (even in your local public schools), first know the history of your institutions and then be very clear what your personal beliefs are for education and your students. Learn about the community you will serve, learn the language and embed yourself in the culture as much as you can. As educators of color, be confident that you also bring with you a wealth of knowledge stemming from your own experience and share your authentic self with your students and community.

 

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Bio:

Jessica Wei Huang was most recently the Principal of June Jordan School for Equity where she served as a teacher and school leader since 2006. She found a passion for education after receiving a Bachelor’s of Foreign Service from Georgetown University and went on to receive a Master’s of Secondary Education from Stanford University. She has seventeen years of combined teaching and leadership experience in public schools in San Francisco. Jessica believes that facilitating cross-cultural and diverse conversations around personal identity and culture is a powerful way to build community and understanding in educational settings. Jessica has co-facilitated professional development for school districts and non-profits in creating and sustaining a culture of equity and anti-racism. Jessica is currently living and teaching 9th grade Biology in Kaohsiung, Taiwan with her family where the maternal side of her family is from.

Meet AIELOC Fellow: Dr. Ashley Marie Hazelwood

 

Dr. Ashley Marie Hazelwood is a dynamic thought-leader and project strategist, skilled in the areas of K-12 and higher education; diversity, equity and inclusion; and capacity-building. Dr. Hazelwood is a generalist, highly proficient in the promotion, accountability, awareness and implementation of equitable and inclusive strategies to facilitate actionable change in order to build community resilience. Dr. Hazelwood has served as an equity-centered researcher, having worked with organizations like Educational Testing Service (ETS), the Council for State School Chief Officers (CCSSO), the United Community Corporation and the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions. Dr. Hazelwood is a trained college professor and facilitator, passionate about creating anti-racist environments in a variety of educational ecosystems. As a new member of the Association of International Educators and Leaders of Color (AIELOC), Dr. Hazelwood is devoted to amplifying the work of international educators and leaders of color.

What if all international schools and leaders…?

What if all international schools and leaders…?

 

consistently celebrated diversity, fostered equity, and supported inclusion?

removed historical legacies and systemic barriers in the international education space that have been created​?

consistently committed to listening to and learning from diverse voices, experiences, and perspectives? (more…)

TIE | Black Lives Matter

STANDS WITH

 

 

 

“You have to get over the fear of facing the worst in yourself. You should instead fear unexamined racism. Fear the thought that right now, you could be contributing to the oppression of others and you don’t know it. But do not fear those who bring that oppression to light. Do not fear the opportunity to do better.” 
― Ijeoma Oluo, 
So You Want to Talk About Race

 

Now is the time for us to move beyond contrived statements and to assert action to solidify our collective identity. Now is the time for us to seek the opportunity to learn and not be silent. We therefore call on every stakeholder in international education to committing to action and making our community more socially just. What does the international education community need to do now? (more…)

Launch of New Association Focused on International Educators and Leaders of Color

Launch of New Association Focused on International Educators and Leaders of Color

Launch of New Association Focused on International Educators and Leaders of Color

Dallas, Texas, January 6, 2020 – A new international education association focused on the global majority has launched. The Association of International Educators and Leaders of Color (AIELOC) is devoted to amplifying the work of international educators and leaders of color with a focus on advocacy, learning, and research.

“When I started working in education internationally it was rare to connect and see others who looked like me. We want to make sure educators and leaders of color know there is a community to support them,” said AIELOC Founder Kevin Simpson.
Simpson is founder of KDSL Global, a leading learning organization focused on empowering educators and education companies globally. He has served 500+ schools and thousands of educators in 20 countries worldwide. His journey working abroad started in 2005 in Vientiane, Laos.  Almost three years ago Simpson set up a Facebook group devoted to sharing opportunities for educators and leaders of color after a highly qualified colleague was discouraged from pursuing a leadership position because her country of origin did not match the expectation.

Last year Simpson’s company researched the race and gender of school leaders at US Department of State Assisted Schools around the world. The findings showed that leaders were mostly white and male. An infographic with more information is found here: https://kdslglobal.wordpress.com/2019/06/14/who-leads-leadership-and-diversity-at-us-department-of-state-assisted-schools/

AIELOC is collaborating with companies around the world whose actions are focused on changing the narrative of who leads in the international education space, such as EDspired, The Global Sleepover, Bhudye Group, International Educator Equity Forum, Women of Color in ELT, The Diversity Collaborative, and Live. Love. Teach!, LLC.

For further information, please contact Kevin Simpson

Tel: +312.478.1695 | aieloc2019@gmail.com

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