Master Teaching

a blog for teachers who follow the Master Teacher

Life after China

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by Bobby Parrish

The field of TESOL represents a world of opportunities. Emphasis on the keyword world. Now, let’s change the word world to the word America and depending on the specific geographical location, one’s prospects can start to look bleak.

After seven years of teaching English at a large Chinese University I returned to Kentucky for a sabbatical. After one year in the States, my wife and I made the difficult decision to remain U.S. bound in order to address some family health issues. This transition began a process that represents my greatest life transition since our initial relocation to China.

I count myself extremely fortunate to have been able to line up employment before my feet ever hit U.S. soil. The work was adjunct and payment unsustainable; however, I had believed that our family would return to Asia within twelve months and if not, well perhaps my adjunct position would naturally give way to full-time employment. The decision to stay was ordained but certainly not due to overwhelming opportunities for career advancement. Today I find myself teaching for a university currently embattled in cost cutting measures rather than expansion.

The reality is that demand for ESL in Kentucky looks very different than the demand for EFL in China. Gone are the days of being stopped on the street and offered a job by a complete stranger. Here are the days of adjunct positions lacking job security from one semester to the next and no sight of the proverbial career ladder to climb.

Dry periods in our career paths are opportunities for reflection. When seemingly endless prospects and elaborate compensation packages are removed and one’s corresponding level of status drops, reflection sets in and certain considerations begin to stir the brain. Do I still love teaching? Am I making an impact in the lives of my students both inside and outside the classroom? Does the classroom still excite me? Do I still desire and seek out opportunities for professional development? Where do I see myself in 5-7 years? Where is the Master Teacher in all of this?

VerseIn a year of transition fraught with uncertainty, renewed anxiety set in. Since our decision to remain in Kentucky, Matthew 6:34 (especially in The Message) has regularly been on my mind. With all that God has done in my life up until now, how can I not rest in His providence? Our God is the God of both the hills and valleys, and I cannot wait to write part two of this column itemizing the realized conclusion of the present unknown.


[1] Matthew 6:34, the Message.

Further exploration

What’s your perspective?

We welcome your comments on any of the ideas in this post or in answer to the questions below.

  • How have you found hope in transition?
  • What opportunities for reflection have you embraced during dry periods in your life or career?
  • How does Matthew 6:34 (particularly in The Message) encourage you in your current situation?

Post Author

Bobby Bio 2018Bobby Parrish currently resides in Campbellsville Kentucky, USA with his wife (Ula) and three children (Jacob, Katie and Abigail). He is an instructor in the ESL and M.A. TESOL programs at Campbellsville University. Prior to moving to Kentucky, Bobby and his wife, were employed for seven years as English teachers in Inner Mongolia, China. Bobby is passionate about equipping teachers for the world’s opportunities. He carries an M.A. from Wheaton College.


Photo by Ahmed zayan on Unsplash

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This entry was posted on September 12, 2018 by in Bobby Parrish, this i teach.

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