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Whatever comes next

Robinson pursues non-traditional teaching in Thailand.

For Janie Robinson ’15, the question of going abroad after graduation wasn’t “if” so much as “how.”

“I was lucky enough to be able to travel a decent amount at Wofford. I was certain I wanted to go abroad, but wasn’t sure how to make it happen,” says Robinson, who spent an Interim in Peru and a semester in Vienna. “I looked into au pairing, but it can be difficult to acquire a visa, so I was researching other options.”

When she discovered the opportunity to teach English in Thailand, Robinson knew the experience would be a good fit.

“I love kids, and through teaching I had a more secure way of receiving income,” she says. “Already I find my job extremely rewarding. I’ve been challenged in so many new ways.”

Robinson landed in Thailand on Sept. 27 and completed an on-site TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) course upon arrival. 

“There are a lot of differences between the U.S. and Thailand’s educational systems. Thai students can’t fail. Because of this, students struggle with motivation and finding purpose in their studies,” says Robinson. “It’s not that these students don’t work, they just have a very different mindset, and we have to accommodate that. I’m learning to motivate the students with fun instead of grades and to focus on positive reinforcement to get them excited.”

Robinson is currently contracted to teach for six months, but she hopes to extend her stay for up to a year.

“Thailand is beautiful, and I want to follow this experience wherever it takes me,” she says. “The children I’ve worked with have been kind and excited to learn. In Thailand, learning English isn’t simply an elective, it’s an opportunity to change their lives and the lives of their family, so it’s rewarding to see them working hard and taking their studies seriously.”

Robinson says her experiences at Wofford, specifically her work toward her major in English, gave her the confidence to think outside the box. 

“Being in discussion-based classes led to a lot of creative thinking as well as opening my mind about different ways of life,” says Robinson. “Wofford gave me the support and love that helped me make the decision to do this... and whatever comes next.”

by Kelsey Aylor ’18