Ria’s Journey – Teaching in the U.S.A.

Greenheart Exchange’s Teach USA program connects enthusiastic, highly-qualified international teachers with U.S. host schools to promote interaction and enhance mutual understanding. Participating teachers are placed in a K-12 host school for 1-3 years and teach subjects like World Languages, Special Education, Sciences, and Math. During the program, teachers sharpen their professional skills and take part in cross-cultural activities within their schools and local communities. And host schools get to bring the world to their classrooms and communities. It’s a win-win for the teachers, the schools, and the students. 

We recently caught up with Ria, a teacher from the Philippines who is in Illinois teaching at a middle school.  Here’s what she had to say about her experience so far:

Ria’s Journey to Teaching in the U.S.A.

I’ve have always known that my teaching career would lead me to faraway places. I had this dream to teach in the U.S. and I was given the rare chance in 2019. But because of the pandemic, it was put on hold for a year and a half. In God’s perfect time, the real journey started in July 2021.

The J1 program has opened a lot of opportunities and learning experiences, even after more than 20 years of teaching in the Philippines. During my first year in the program, I’ve been exposed to different ways of life, educational practices and teachings in the U.S. It was a hurdle and a challenge at first, but it was definitely rewarding.

Filipino teachers celebrated their 1st year in US. Hosted a dinner as gratitude to all the people who helped them when they arrived last year in the US.  Photo from Ms. Irene Andino

Photo from Ms. Lynn Lane

Communication and Collaboration help overcome Challenges

One of the challenges I had is the students’ outlook and behaviors during classes. It is way different from what we normally have in the Philippines, where disagreeing with the teachers is frowned upon. However, with my immersion with US students, I realized that students are more expressive and opinionated. Through this process, students and teachers have open communication, which leads to friendlier relationships between students and their teachers. ​

The collaboration with the American teachers and school administrators through the PLC meetings and in-house trainings not only offered room for development, but also made a conducive working environment. Also, with the help and support of the Filipino community, I was able to adapt in a few months. It eased my concern of meeting up the standards that the US education system offers to the students, and to the public in general. ​

Filipino-Americans: Woven into the Rich Fabric of the United States, October 21, 2021 at Peoria Public Library. Sponsored by Filipino-American Society of Central Illinois (FASCI) and Peoria Area World Affairs Council (PAWAC).  Photo from Ms. Irene Andino

Filipino Teachers’ Cultural Activity with the Peoria Public Schools District 150 Superintendent, Directors, Principals and Assistant Principals, June 2022.  Photo from Ms. Irene Andino

Resources and Cultures Shared

One of my favorites in my Middle School teaching is the diverse resources used for the students’ learning experience. Students have access to online and offline and streams that help improve their studies. Aside from focusing on the core subjects, social emotional learning is also emphasized in the curriculum. ​ ​

Since the J1 program is a cultural exchange program, it fosters global understanding. During one of my classes with my U.S. students, I was able to share with them my home province, the previous schools I’ve taught, and the overall structure of our educational system. I also shared to them that as Filipino teachers, we are actively engaged in community work participating in community programs and activities. They even met their Filipino counterparts via a live Zoom video conference. They exchanged views and experiences on their respective schools and home countries. ​ ​

Filipino teachers participated in Ignite Peoria 2022 held on August 13, 2022. It is the Central Illinois’ premiere arts and makers fest where it showcases hundreds of local makers, musicians, artists, innovators, dancers, and actors. Photo from Ms. Irene Andino

Volunteer work in Sophia’s Kitchen (Community Service) Giving food to homeless people. Photo from Ms. Irene Andino

Life-Changing and Rewarding Experience

Teaching in the U.S.A. is both a life-changing and rewarding experience. The out-of-the-comfort zone environment helped me to become a better individual, both personally and professionally. It broadened my perception about the U.S. education system. It also provided me ways and ideas to improve my country’s educational system as well. There are a lot of U.S. best teaching practices to share when I go back home after my program.

Being an international teacher here in the U.S. is truly a blessing. “Believe and you will receive”. 😊

Ria S. Matos, from the Philippines, Teach USA participant in Illinois

Photo from Ms. Irene Andino

Thank you Ria! And a special thank you to our Teachers–and to all the teachers around the world. 

If you are interested in learning more about Greenheart’s Teach USA program, please visit our website.

And if your school is interested in HOSTING an international teacher to bring the world to your community, please get in touch!