Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Tiffany Green
The Black Expat: 'I'm Growing In Who I Am And It's Been A Beautiful Journey'
For Connecticut native Tiffany Green, living abroad has always been the dream. She has always had a passion for working with students and helping them break down barriers, by preparing them for the next step.
She now works abroad as a school counselor, for a school that allows her to travel to a new destination every few months. We had the chance to catch up with her to learn more about her life abroad and what it’s like to move around the globe so frequently.
Travel Noire: What inspired you to move abroad?
Tiffany: I think it was always a dream of mine. In college, I took a plane for the first time to head to Cape Town, South Africa. But before that, I was selected in high school to go to Australia. I still remember the day I sat in the auditorium and something fueled inside of me. But, those dreams were up in flames because 9/11 happened 3 months later and all the trips for the upcoming summer were canceled.
After going to Cape Town, I never looked back. Every chance I got, I went abroad. Life happened and I forgot about the dream was sparked in me in South Africa for ten years. I backpacked West Africa and during my trek, I visited an American international school in Senegal. The head of school gave me the steps of how to set myself up to work at a school abroad.
TN: How did you learn about the opportunity with the school that you currently work for?
Tiffany: If you are a certified teacher, leader, librarian or counselor/social worker you can apply through two organizations that match international schools around the world with candidates from around the world (Search Associates and ISS). Once you have clearance, it’s a matching game. 8 weeks after I was approved, the school I work for reached out to me because they were expanding their counseling program and based on my experience and profile they thought I would be a good fit.
TN: Walk us through moving around the globe every few months?
Tiffany: Because we are a high school and not a study abroad program, the staff and students stay consistent. There are 30 students and 11 staff from all over the world. So not only do you get a piece of culture in the country but also within our school. While in-country, we all live around the city but every day at work I see consistent faces for 8 weeks. We all (staff and students) arrive in-country for 8 weeks and then they go home for about 5. I usually globetrot during that time.
In-country, we get to learn the culture, history, language, foods, people, and stories. It’s like I’m a cultural anthropologist for 8 weeks. The day I land, I have a routine. Unpack fully in my apartment. Get my staples from the grocery store. Do a free walking tour and join a gym. I’m a queen at diving in. I naturally, give 100% of myself to people and places without the fear of leaving.
TN: How has life improved since moving abroad?
Tiffany: To be fair, I had a great quality of life back home. I had friends, family, and an amazing job. Now, I have more disposable income because like most international jobs it comes with housing. I have more time to do things I love. I’ve been getting into rock climbing and I’m starting an adult gymnastics class at my next location. I’ve learned to be confident in myself and my decision making because I don’t have 10 people to always ask. I’m growing in who I am and what I like, and it’s been a beautiful journey.
TN: What is an average day like for you?
Tiffany: Usually, I wake up and run. The students might have classes in the morning so either I’ll join in on a guest speaker or field experience, look over college application materials, or plan for the 3 classes I teach per week. I teach a separate class for 10th, 11th and 12th graders to prepare them for life after graduation. In the afternoon, I will meet with students for appointments. Lastly, I teach a social-emotional curriculum. Each term is different and covers culture shock and tolerance, nutrition, mindfulness, and mental health and other topics that are important for students to understand. Of course, there are staff meetings that occur. After that, I’ll go to the gym, eat dinner, then go home to watch TV, read a book or call friends depending on the time zone difference.
TN: What advice do you can you give to those wanting to move abroad, but feel stuck?
Tiffany: Join expat groups. Get inspired. Ask questions. Have a plan with a deadline and go. Once you prepare to move to your location, join groups for people of color in those areas to make connections and find community fast! Whether you are there for 8 weeks, 2 years or indefinitely, community matters.
TN: Where can we find you online?