Rebecca

Japan

Rebecca started as a teacher at the International Christian Academy in Nagoya, Japan.

Tell us a bit about yourself, how and where you grew up, where you went to school
I'm and MK born and raised in Mexico. My parents chose to home school my siblings and me as there were no educational options that fit their vision for both a Christian and English education for us. At 18 years of age I moved to Idaho to go to college at Lewis Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho. 
What made you decide you become a teacher?
My Grandmother was a teacher, first in Canada, and later as the school teacher for all the missionary kids on the field with her and my grandfather in Mexico. I grew up hearing stories about her school house in Canada and later her one room missionary kid school house in Mexico. From a young age I felt the call to missions and knew that teaching would be a good fit for me. I imagined that I would follow a similar path as my grandmother and my mother before me, marry a missionary and teach my kids along with any other MKs where I was serving. Little did I imagine that God had other, much better plans for me.
How did you first hear about opportunities at NICS?
As I finished college, I began to pursue teaching opportunities overseas, by searching for Christian international schools. I submitted several applications but did not hear back from anyone. Discouraged, I began to think that maybe God's plan was for me to stay in the US and gain a few years of experience before going overseas. Then one day I stumbled across a link for NICS. As soon as I read of their vision and opportunities I felt instinctively that God had led me there. Shortly thereafter I accepted a position to serve at International Christian Academy of Nagoya. 
Did you speak any languages beyond English?
I was raised in a bilingual home and speak both English and Spanish.
What did your family say when you told them you were teaching in another country?
My parents were not surprised by my decision to teach in another country as I had been telling them my whole life that is what I was going to do. They encouraged me to follow where the Lord was leading. 
What was the biggest barrier keeping you from signing on as a NICS Teacher?
I had few hesitations before signing on with NICS. NICS was an answer to prayer and I knew before I was offered a job that if the opportunity presented itself, I would say yes.
What convinced you to overcome that barrier?
I felt God's calling strongly to teach in another country. Throughout the process of finding and then applying to NICS, I saw God's hand moving and opening doors. When I was offered a position, I felt confident that it was God's sovereign plan for my life to answer the call.
What was your biggest fear once you signed up?
Besides the normal fears of a first year teacher, I remember that I was hired two or three weeks after the March 11th earthquake in Japan. I was a little nervous of the reports of radiation but felt confident that if the school was still hiring teachers, the situation must be safe enough to remain in country. I was also broke as I finished college and feared the start up costs of moving to a new country.
Did your family encourage you to go? If so what was the most encouraging thing they did?
My parents reminded me that the safest place to be is in the middle of God's will, if He had called me there, He would provide for my safety and financial needs.
What was your biggest fear when you first landed in your new country?
My finances were a big stressor the first month in country, but that was mostly because I did not understand the currency or how to budget. I quickly realized that my salary was generous enough to live comfortably and to cover the start up costs I had during the first few months.
What was your favorite experience living in a new country?
In 2013 I moved from Nagoya, Japan to Caracas, Venezuela. Living overseas is not always easy, but I have my deepest friendships are those I have made since moving to a new country. More than any experience, the people relationships I've made are what I treasure most. That being said, getting to eat fugu (blowfish), standing at the top of Machu Piccu, and finding a sloth in my back yard have all been pretty exciting. 
What is the funniest thing that happened to you as you acclimated to a new culture?
Once in Japan I got stuck talking to a door to door salesman for 20 minutes repeatedly saying "No, thank you." without realizing that by thanking him, I was signaling that I was interested in his product. Once my roommate came out and simply told him "No," he quickly left!
Tell us your favorite story from teaching at your NICS school.
One year, as we were approaching Winter break, I had a students who became more and more unmanageable and disruptive. He repeatedly told me he couldn't wait for his vacation to start. The last day of school before the break he sat in the dismissal line, sobbing because of how much he was going to miss his friends and teachers. The friendships between students and teachers is unmatched. My students consistently say they prefer to be at school than on vacation. 
What makes teaching at NICS so special?
Having parents tell you they're sad to move away because this is the first school where they knew the teachers loved their kids, that's what makes NICS special.
How did your experience with NICS help you grow as a teacher?
I have grown so much as a teacher since joining NICS. My experiences with students of diverse backgrounds have pushed me to create culturally relevant lessons that are accessible for all the learners in my classroom.
What do you wish you knew before you signed up?
I've worked at two NICS schools and this summer I'm moving to a third. Each school is unique but each one is a vital part of the mission of NICS. Large or small, every school is doing important work for the kingdom. 
What would you tell someone considering becoming a NICS teacher?
If God is calling you to another country He will provide everything you need. He doesn't always call us to safe, He doesn't always call us to easy but He when we are in His will He is faithful "to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine." This experience will deepen your relationship with Him and leave a lasting impact on your life.
What is the one thing a new teacher should pack for their trip?
Bring pictures or a favorite blanket, something that will make your new house feel like home.
What is your best advice for getting used to a new culture/climate?
Initiate! For a little while you will be completely dependent on others to help you navigate the basics of survival, but as soon as you can cook a meal or get to a local restaurant on your own, invite someone out who is a local or has been there a while. You'll feel proud that you can finally 'give back' and your efforts to reach out will go a long way to helping you find your place and establish meaningful relationships.
What final words of encouragement do you have for someone considering a job with NICS?
Don't be afraid to go! The impact you can have on the life of a child will last for eternity. That's what makes everything worth it!

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