Hannah Garcia, a TWU 2011 graduate in Education, has found a teaching home, at least temporarily, in an American curriculum international school in Nairobi, Kenya. Denton is her hometown and her family is still in the area. After 2 1/2 years she is feeling settled in Nairobi, but it wasn’t easy. It is the academic growth of the children and their zeal for life that inspire her each day.
After graduating from TWU in 2011, Hannah took a year off to pay off her student loans and consider her future. “I wanted to teach but felt drawn to missions, as well. I was introduced to an organization that mixed education and missions and decided it was a perfect fit for me.” After much prayer she knew that Kenya was the place to go. “So I chose to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.”
“Moving to another continent while experiencing my first teaching job is basically the greatest obstacle to ever occur! Adjusting to living in Kenya was extremely challenging, especially being so far away from family. ” Adjusting to the drastic differences between Nairobi and suburban Texas was something Hannah had to deal with. “I think what helped me adjust was to stop comparing experiences and simply appreciate where I am now without longing to have the best of both worlds.”
During her first year Hannah was teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) to Korean students living in Kenya while simultaneously creating an ESL program policy. “I learned
during my first year of teaching that it’s not always about having the best lesson plans or using all of the latest teaching methods, but loving and supporting my students as they learn a new language and culture.”
Reflecting on her TWU education, Hannah noted that she felt comfortable and prepared when she got her first teaching job. “The education program at TWU is stellar, in my opinion! Teaching is an ever-changing profession so learning and flexibility are constantly required, but my time at TWU was invaluable. I am incredibly grateful for the caring, passionate, and brilliant professors I learned from. One particularly stands out as being a mentor and constant source of encouragement – Dr. Claudia Haag.
“Dr. Haag continually gave advice and support as I approached graduation and started seeing teaching jobs. ” The support of this TWU mentor continued as Hannah settled in Kenya. At some point, Hannah will return to Denton to enroll in graduate school at TWU.
During her time abroad Hannah has hosted several friends and her brother. “It was such an awesome experience to share my home with them! They went on safari in the Maasai Mara, rode an ostrich, petted an elephant, experienced the open-air market, spent time loving on kids in a local orphanage, and enjoyed the amazing food, culture and people of Kenya.”
Thank you for sharing your adventure, Hannah. TWU wishes you all the best!