Daniel Horncastle hopped, skipped, jumped, and well, mostly flew the 18 hours between his native home of New Zealand and his teach abroad destination, Myanmar (yes, THAT Myanmar!). Myanmar is making headway on the TEFL stage, staking its claim as the new it destination of Southeast Asia for traveling English teachers. Read more about Daniel’s multi-year stint teaching in Asia below!
Tell us about some of your recent travels!
I have been living in Myanmar for almost 2 years now, my last trip within Myanmar was to a place called Hpa-An. Hpa-an is the capital and largest city of Kayin State. It is surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery, and many of these mountains contain large caves. It was great fun to get out of the big city of Yangon and ride around by motorbike to check out the beautiful scenery.
Give us some details about your hometown, where you grew up, your college years, etc. Has your community been supportive of your wandering ways?
I am from a small town in the South Island of New Zealand. It is a sleepy town, with not a lot going on. I moved from my hometown when I was 17. When I was first coming to Myanmar I was only going to be doing a 6 month contract, but since I loved my work and made many friends with locals and other expats I keep extending my contract. Now I do not see myself going back home for many years.
My family was a little worried about me coming to Myanmar because often you do not hear positive things about Myanmar on the news, and most of my friends have never even heard of Myanmar. I would say I am going to Burma then they would know. It has been 30 years since Myanmar was called Burma!
You are teaching abroad in Myanmar. AMAZING! What drew you to Asia?
I wanted to experience a new culture, I knew that going on holiday was not enough. I needed more time to settle into the community and decided to TEFL in Myanmar.
What do you think are the three most important skills that an ESL teacher should possess in order to succeed in the classroom?
Patience, flexibility, and compassion.
Even though you have a ton of travel experience, you’ve gotta be feeling a wee-bit nervous about traveling to a new country to work, no? Tell us how you overcome your doubts/fears and other ideas for strategies future TEFL teachers can use.
I was very nervous when I first booked the tickets to come to Myanmar. I did my in-class TESOL in Myanmar and my first worry was if I was going to pass the exam, then my second worry was if I was going to be earning enough money to survive, I was worried that I was going to be a terrible teacher! My advice for anyone coming to Myanmar is to leave your expectations at home, and come with an open mind.
Any other last words of wisdom to share/pieces of advice to give to our readers?
Be patient, everything works differently when you TEFL in Myanmar!