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College of DuPage Student Stories Feature

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Link to original post: https://www.cod.edu/about/stories/students/clark.aspx

Degree: Associate in Arts

After finishing high school, Courtney Clark was ready for college but unsure of what to pursue.

“I felt that as a student at College of DuPage, I would be able to continue my education while exploring some different interests since I wasn’t sure what I wanted to major in right away,” she said. “I found out shortly later that I had received a Presidential Scholarship, which helped even further solidify my decision to attend.”

Being named a Presidential Scholar, an honor that includes a full-tuition scholarship and enrollment in COD’s Honors program and induction into the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society, provided Clark with financial security while she focused on her studies. The opportunities she received at COD played key roles in her future plans.

“COD impacted my life in many ways, but the biggest lesson it taught me is that hard work really does pay off,” she said. “This knowledge, plus my ambitious spirit and encouraging professors and staff, led me to really thrive at COD both academically and in extracurriculars.

“COD also opened my eyes to the value of service. There was a required service component that accompanied the Presidential Scholars Award and I chose to volunteer at an afterschool program for kindergarteners. I enjoyed this experience so much that I taught kindergarten again after finishing school. Additionally, the Living Leadership Program helped me to identify my leadership style and valuable skills, which came in handy in both my studies and career.”

Her favorite memories came from her time at the Courier, COD’s student newspaper, where she worked as both the arts and entertainment editor and the graphics/social media editor. The experience influenced her career path.

“During my time at the Courier, I learned how to use programs such as Adobe InDesign to design my section of the paper, which I also wrote and edited. I managed freelance reporters and photographers. I gained valuable interview skills and became an expert on AP Style. I learned how to use WordPress to run the Courier website as well as post on their social media pages. I was also responsible for maintaining communication with the publisher so that each issue’s copies would be printed by the deadline,” she said. “Working for the Courier also allowed me to attend and cover on-campus events such as a talk by Ari Shapiro, NPR White House Correspondent.

“I left the Courier with both new and greatly improved skills and an extensive portfolio of my work. I can’t stress enough how greatly this prepared me for my next role as a managing editor as well as my current editing career.”

Clark was named one of COD’s Outstanding Graduate finalists and earned her Associate in Arts degree. She then transferred to University of Southern California as a Communication major and began writing for the Daily Trojan and Neon Tommy, the online student publication.

Due to a switch in major departments and institutional credit requirements, she transferred again to Roosevelt University as an English major and worked as a staff reporter and managing editor on the Roosevelt Torch. During her final semester, she wrote her thesis on John Steinbeck’s exploration of the “American dream” concept and completed a publishing internship at Featherproof books.

After graduating with Honors and a bachelor’s degree in English, Clark earned her TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification at International TEFL Academy in Chicago and moved to Thailand, where she taught English to kindergarteners.

Clark currently works at Epsilon on the email creative team, where she is a copy editor and project manager for several clients including the NFL, Dell, Seasons 52 and TaxSlayer. She recently led a Women in Leadership seminar and attended a two-day creative coding summit held at Epsilon’s Chicago office.

“I’ve always wanted to work in book publishing in New York one day and I plan to continue pursuing that dream,” she said. “In anything I do and any position I hold, my goals are to always find new challenges, improve my existing abilities and grow new skills while really making a difference and leaving an impact somewhere.”

She recommends students take advantage of College of DuPage’s affordable, high-quality education and the opportunity to explore interests, save money and gain valuable experience and connections. Clark also urges students to get involved.

“I observed many of my peers commute to and from class without discovering anything else COD has to offer, while I immersed myself in COD’s Student Life programs (Courier, Living Leadership Program, Student Ambassadors, Model UN and the French Club) and got to be part of an incredibly vibrant community. Another plus of getting involved is that many of these experiences also look really great on a resume. Make the most of your experience!”

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thailand

Article Published on International TEFL Academy’s Official Blog – “The Start of a New Chapter After Thailand”

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Link to this post on ITA’s blog: https://www.internationalteflacademy.com/alumni-stories/the-start-of-a-new-chapter  

By: Courtney Clark 

Hi, I’m Courtney! I took my TEFL certification class in January 2016 and worked part-time for a while to save up money to teach abroad. I finally decided on Thailand as my destination because it was somewhere I always wanted to visit and the timing coincided perfectly with the start of their school semester. I left for Thailand in April 2017 and taught kindergarten until October 2017.

I had 33 students and would teach English, science, math and art lessons each week. All of the students had very unique personalities, which always kept class interesting. Some of my favorite moments include pretending to be zombies and chasing each other around on the playground, dancing to the video “Baby Shark”, and a day where everyone brought in food, and I taught the students how to make sandwiches.

Teaching English in Thailand

From the moment I gave notice that I would be returning to the U.S., I knew it would be incredibly difficult to leave all the people I met there behind. It was so hard to say goodbye to all the friends I had made, my Thai co-teachers who had become like family to me, and my adorable little students. However, I had to leave for my own reasons, which were to be able to grow as a person in new ways and to really get started on my career.

Upon arriving home in the U.S., I immediately noticed so many differences between the lifestyle I had grown accustomed to in Thailand and the one I grew up in but that now felt so foreign to me. I forgot about the “hustle bustle,” busy, rushing lifestyle that is the norm here in the U.S. I also forgot about the importance and stress placed on productivity rather than a peaceful state of mind. I felt unsure about my ability to adapt back into such a stressful environment.

Teaching English in Thailand

Reverse culture shock is a real thing. Whereas everyone in grocery stores in Thailand left me alone, here it felt like I was being bombarded by retail workers about store sales and being forced to remember simple things such as small talk about the weather. Whereas all the signs in Thailand were in Thai, and I learned to disregard them, now everything was bright and distracting in giant English letters. The simplest way I can describe this feeling is “sensory overload.”

However, once I finally got over my jet lag and reverse culture shock, I remembered that this fast paced lifestyle is what has always motivated me and pushed me to be the type of person I am which is constantly trying to improve and grow and learn in new, challenging ways. Although I learned so much about myself, Thai culture, the complexity and responsibility of being a teacher, and will always be overwhelmingly grateful for it all, I feel that I have found another opportunity that is a perfect fit for me at this time.

Teaching English in Thailand

My new opportunity is a position in my field of study. I worked on school newspapers from high school all through college and really enjoyed writing and editing all sorts of different topics. Naturally, I majored in English. During my last year of college, I also completed a book publishing internship. I always thought I would continue along this line of editing/publishing but had trouble finding a job after graduation even with all my prior experience and a writing portfolio. However, once returning from Thailand, I added that experience to my resume and felt like I started to get noticed more and received more responses from jobs I applied to.

After several interviews that didn’t feel like a great fit, I finally landed on a marketing company that was looking for a copy editor. After the first interview, I could tell it would be a very exciting opportunity where I would really be able to test my copy-editing and project manager skills. I am very happy to say that everything worked out, and I am now working in my field and beginning my career. I have a picture of my teachers and students from Thailand on my desk. I am thankful every day for the experience and will never forget all that I have learned and how I got to the place I am today.

Teaching English in Thailand

A lot of people ask me if I would ever teach abroad again and the answer is a giant YES!!! I don’t have any plans to in the near future, but it is a priceless life experience I would absolutely love to try again later in my life. I highly recommend it to everyone I meet.

Sabai sabai  (a common Thai phrase meaning “everything’s good” or “not a care in the world”)

Courtney Clark is 25 from Bloomingdale, IL,with a BA in English from Roosevelt University. She worked as a writer/editor for several years before deciding to teach kindergarten in Thailand.

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thailand

Teaching in Thailand Part III

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This post is just an update about some of the topics I’ve been covering with my students and some of the activities I’ve really enjoyed. Last Friday we made Mother’s Day cards since Mother’s Day in Thailand is August 12.

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We’ve covered one letter a week so this week we are on Letter N. I’ve begun adding their names to the phonics for that letter so every student whose name begins with N will be sounded out, written out and repeated by the class. They all laugh when this happens but they seem to enjoy the lesson more.

Some of the recent topics I’ve covered have included colors and shapes, five senses, my home, safety first, healthy food, fruits and vegetables, Thai/western culture, Mother’s Day and this week is seasons.

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For the topic of “Seasons,” I had to ask what exactly they meant by that because in the U.S. specifically Midwest, we have four seasons (summer, spring, fall, winter) but here in Thailand they really only have two (wet and hot). It is currently the wet season. Sometimes that can mean cooler temperatures during a storm but most days I’ve been here it has still been extremely hot temperatures. Similar to the week of Thai/Western culture, they wanted me to do a little bit of both. The main vocab words are “season,” “winter,” “spring,” “rains,” and “summer.”

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The last few topics of the semester I will be covering in the rest of my time here will include trees, flowers, “butterfly,” weather, “enjoy with numbers” and finally “project.”

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I’ve also still been teaching my non- English program classes as well. I see two classes each once a week focusing specifically on speaking and listening (they call it “English for Communication”). Since I only see them once a week for one hour, it is difficult for them to remember what we learned so it’s a lot of repeating and reviewing.

A usual class session with these students starts with me having an individual conversation with each student where their classmates listen until it’s their turn. Then I will attempt to have two students stand up and talk to each other although this usually includes a lot of help from both their Thai teacher and myself.

Example of what point we’ve reached thus far:

Me: Hello (waving)

Student: Hello (waving)

Me: How are you?

Student: I am happy/good/okay.

Me: What is your name?

Student: My name is _________.

Me: Nice to meet you.

Student: Nice to meet you.

Me: Goodbye. (waving)

Student: Goodbye/bye-bye. (waving)

Next week I am going to introduce them to handshakes during the “nice to meet you” section and intro the response of “nice to meet you too.” I take very small steps with them since these few classes they’ve had with me are their first ever English classes whereas my homeroom class have been in the English program for one year already and I know a few of them have tutors outside of school to help them with their English and a few also attend a Saturday school program at the school here.

I also always play songs and videos for these non EP program classes since they don’t have internet or a video projector in their classrooms and I like to make it as fun as possible for them.

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thailand

Ko Samet

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I have been very fortunate with the amount of paid holidays this semester since we had another 3 day weekend July 28-30. This time I visited a small island that took about 5 hours to get to by van and ferry. Ko Samet is a very small island that can be either very expensive or fairly affordable depending how you travel. For example, the ferry took about 20 minutes and had a pretty view but they also offered a speedboat option, which cost double the price of the ferry. They had a 20 baht entry fee for everyone just to enter the pier (but 20 baht is less than $1 USD so it’s not a big deal).

It was extremely crowded since it was a holiday weekend so I definitely saved a lot of money by booking a place to stay ahead of time. The hostel I stayed at was called Samed Thanee. They were the cheapest option I could find with wifi and AC included. It was very nice and clean but on the opposite side of the island from the good beaches, however you can drive there on a rental scooter easily in 10 minutes or less. The plus side of this location was that it was very quiet at night since it was pretty far away from all the touristy bars and party hostels.

There were also lots of food choices for about 150 baht on average but I managed to find meals for 60 baht since this was the end of the month and I had a very low budget. I also went to the beach early enough in the day that I didn’t have to pay the 200 baht they normally charge foreigners since the good beaches are located inside a national park.

The first beach I went to was called Ao Prao and it was fairly empty which was surprising considering that there are resorts located directly on the road on this beach. There were tree swings, which were fun to relax in the shade on especially since it was an extremely hot and sunny day. There was some trash which is a problem with a lot of the beaches I’ve visited around this area of Thailand but they at least have workers picking it up and have signs put up that ask tourists not to litter.

I stopped at one more beach that was next to Ao Prao (not sure of the name of this one) but this beach had very soft, white sand so it was very beautiful as long as you kept your eyes open for broken glass around the entrance. Overall, it was definitely an enjoyable weekend getaway with gorgeous views!

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thailand

Get your TEFL certification at International TEFL Academy

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Click this link below and use my name “Courtney Clark” for $50 off your TEFL certification course! This course taught me how to be 100% prepared for teaching English abroad and helped me to get hired at my current teaching position!

http://bit.ly/2rXLNXa