Eastern alumni share experiences, personal stories working in Asia


Chynna Miller

Steve Kilty, an alumni of Eastern, skypes in from Japan to the Information Workshop: Studying and Working in Asia to shares his experiences of teaching in Tokyo Tuesday in the auditorium of Lumpkin Hall.

Roberto Hodge, Multicultural Editor

Eastern alumni and current students shared their personal stories and their experiences with working or living in Asia as part of the Asian Heritage month Tuesday evening.

Breeahnah Babers, a graduate of Eastern who was Skyped in from South Korea, said she had only been in the country for a month and was teaching an average of 30 elementary school students in her classrooms. Babers said she got the job through a governmental program, GEPIK, which has placed more than 200 teachers in the last 12 months at various teaching schools.

Babers, who said the benefits of the program are good because she gets health insurance, a bonus pay when she leaves South Korea and up to 20 paid vacation days. She said most of the salary she receives is up for her to spend on whatever she wants because the program pays for most of her living expenses except her electricity bill.

In order for her to go to South Korea, she needed a TEFL certificate, which is teaching English as a foreign language, passport and visa, recommendation letters and a background check.

When it comes to her students, Babers said she teaches third and fifth grade.

“A lot of time they’re picking their nose,” Babers said with a laugh about the third graders.

She said her fifth graders speak English well but are very shy about doing so.

Taylor Coffman, a senior history major, also went to South Korea for a summer school program and said it was a great experience.

Coffman said she had students from all over the world that went on the trip with her with 97 students coming from at least 19 different countries.

Coffman said when she was at Ajou University, she experienced, like many leaving the United States for the first time, culture shock; however, she said the shock was necessary because it allowed her to immerse herself further into the Korean culture.

“It was really fun to see people from all around the world,” Coffman said. “It requires you to get outside your comfort zone.”

South Korea, which Coffman said is a highly advanced country, had Wi-Fi all around the city, Suwon, which is where she was stationed.

Coffman recalled taking a train that she would swipe to get on, and then swipe again once getting off and it would only charge her for the amount of miles she used.

While visiting for the summer, Coffman said she experienced a tea ceremony, traditional Korean dress, taekwondo classes and many more.

One graduate, Steve Kilty, who was also Skyped in, went to Tokyo, Japan for three months, which turned into three years and he never left.

“Three months, six months, one year and now it’s been three years,” Kilty said.

Kilty said he did not plan on staying in Tokyo, but he really enjoyed what the city had to offer especially with it being such a clean and safe city.

Kilty who is teaching English and math to those in Japan, said he takes public transportation to work every day and the trains are so packed everyone is standing body to body. He said while he was preparing to go to Japan he studied the language extensively for about a year. Kilty also said because the educational system is different in Japan than it is in the States, he learned a lot more about teaching and became a better instructor for it.

Kurt Olausen, the director of study abroad, said students could receive scholarships and money to study in Asia.

Through Eastern’s study abroad program, students can visit China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia and many more for a summer or semester.

“This is going to be the single-most life changing event at this point in your life,” Olausen said of being able to study abroad while in college.

Roberto Hodge can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].