Jobs abroad await Calvin students


Representatives from 38 schools helped students explore careers overseas. Photo courtesy Calvin College.

Schools from the Association of Christian Schools International (ASCI) set up booths in the Prince Conference Center on Tuesday, Oct. 31 to share with students about jobs at international schools all over the globe.

Thirty-eight schools were represented, including Abundant Life International School in Cambodia, International Academy of Suriname in Suriname and Mercy Ships Academy, which sails around coastal Africa.

Although many of the schools were seeking to fill teaching positions, some schools also had openings in other fields such as IT, donor development or administration. Careers abroad may also include serving the underprivileged, providing food assistance or renovating homes.

A majority of the schools serve missionary kids or wealthy students, but others like the Rafiki Foundation in Sub-Saharan Africa work with impoverished children.

“Some of these kids we teach are using graphite pencils and paintbrushes for the first time,” said Laurie Mueller, who taught art at the Rafiki Foundation. “It’s a really rewarding experience.”

Janneke Cole, a Calvin senior, said she had come to explore what options were out there. She was open to going anywhere and found every booth to be informative.

“I’m glad that Calvin did this, because otherwise I wouldn’t know where to start,” she said.

Another senior, Kate Lee, had attended an international school in Korea, so she was attracted to the unique environment. She said:

“If I could, I would like to work abroad, perhaps in Thailand or the Philippines.”

Career advisor Wes Trammell observed that recent trends have indicated lower interest in working abroad among Calvin students. Only 63 students attended the international school job fair, compared to about 200 Calvin students at another recent job fair (for domestic careers) held at GVSU on Oct. 19.

According to Trammell, Calvin students who choose to work abroad generally feel a calling to go, perhaps to a certain region of the world. Many go to serve in missions-based fields or at schools, teaching English or other subjects. This is because many schools do not require degrees in teaching, only degrees in a field of interest.

Any student can go abroad, but Trammell notes that among Calvin students, the ones who go are typically those studying international development. They usually are especially interested in a particular country or region, often in Central or South America or Africa. Others who go abroad may be international students wanting to return home to work or religion students going into ministry.

The amount of time spent in the new country varies from person to person: some may only choose to go for a year, while others may be there 5-6 years and even start a family abroad. Still others may find themselves away for 20 years or more.

A benefit of working abroad is having the chance to experience a different culture. Often, the hiring organization will even help their new employees with the native language of the new place, or the job might only require English.

Trammell adds that Calvin students and graduates who have worked abroad in internships or jobs have found their experiences to be fulfilling and felt a lot of personal growth being away from home.

A popular location for Calvin students is China, as well as African countries such as Ghana. For those interested in searching for jobs internationally, some resources include, (for the Philippines) and