johann benson '95
Major: Philosophy, Mathematics
Career field: Education
Job title: ESL Instructor
Employer: BKC-International House, Moscow, Russia
In two to three sentences, please describe what your current position entails.
I teach English as a second language to teenagers and adults in a privately owned language school. Students attend classes in the late afternoon or in the evening after work.
What has been your career path to date?
Which country(ies) has your work taken you to?
How did your interest in working internationally develop?
Living abroad is very educational, not only in terms of what you learn about the world, but also for the perspective it gives you on your own identity and origins.
Which parts of your St. Olaf education best prepared you to work internationally?
Studying foreign languages. English may be an international language, but if you only know English you are missing out on 80% of the fun of living abroad.
What is the most difficult or challenging aspect about working internationally?
Having the patience to deal with things that are done differently from the way you are used to.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of working internationally?
There's an opportunity to learn around every corner.
What does being a “global citizen” mean to you?
I don't know what it means to "be" a global citizen. I have never met one. I've met mobile individuals and people who think globally; they weren't, however, necessarily the same people. Nonetheless, I think we should all strive to think as a global citizen would; that is - both as individuals and as nations - we should consider how the consequences of our actions extend beyond our physical and temporal borders and act responsibly. After all, the proverbial backyard of a global citizen is the entire world.
What advice would you offer current students interested in working internationally?
You won't regret having done it, so just get out there and do it. Everyone's experience is going to be unique, so don't let someone else's stories influence your decision-making too much.