Teaching abroad is a difficult job. Former Midland College (MC) student Jeffery Williams
has answered the call. He has moved to Iraq to teach at The International School of
Choueifat. The students are diverse. They are Arabic, Syrian and Kurdish; however,
Williams says kids are kids.
“My students are like kids in America: they break rules, they follow rules,” said
Williams. “I have some students that always do what I ask. I have some students who
just want to see what they can get away with.”
Williams teaches English and social studies to third and fourth graders.
“It is a wonderful feeling to introduce students to new lessons and facts they do
not know yet,” said Williams. “I enjoy pouring knowledge and information into them.
One of the biggest lessons I try to convey is that they can change. I always tell
the students that I was a child once; I went to detention. However, I always tell
them you do not have to continue to go to detention. You do not have to be the one
that acts out. You can become a model student.”
Williams’ life story is proof that one can adapt. He lost his mother to suicide the
week of his high school graduation.
“I came to MC to keep going, to keep my mind occupied,” said Williams. “Looking back,
my mind was not focused on school, but the faculty and staff at MC were very nice,
understanding and accommodating. They welcomed me during this hard time. They made
me feel like I had a second home. If it were not for some of the staff who showed
me how to get to my classes I do not know what I would have done.”
Williams remembers Lula Lee, secretary in the Fine Arts and Communications Division,
taking him under her wing.
“When Lula’s department would go out to eat they would take me along too,” said Williams.
“It was almost like I was a staff member, but I was a student. Little kindnesses like
that meant to so much to me.”
During his time at MC, Williams was involved in the MC choir, jazz ensemble and performed
in “Les Miserables” and “A Christmas Carol” at the Midland Community Theatre.
“I like to sing,” said Williams. “I took voice performance with Vivian Moss, which
also led me to perform solos at school performances. Vocal coaching gave me the confidence
to be on stage, and Vivian Moss really helped me with my singing.”
“Jeffery was very determined to succeed in his vocal studies,” said Lula Lee. “Whenever
he performed at the student recitals, he would have your undivided attention.”
After finishing his bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies at Southwestern Christian
College in 2016, Williams started talking to his friends about what to do next.
“One of my friends told me she had thought about going overseas to teach, and this
piqued my interest,” said Williams. “I had some other friends teaching in Dubai; one
of my other friends went to Korea for a year. I have another friend in Kuwait City
right now, so I started sending out applications.”
Williams had Skype interviews with The International School of Choueifat and received
a contract. One of his favorite teaching moments so far has been a positive visit
from a regional staff member.
“One of the classes I am currently teaching was at one time the rowdiest classroom,”
said Williams. “They were not doing well academically. When my supervisor recently
came in, she said I had a phenomenal classroom. Her feedback was a huge compliment.
She was impressed by how much better the students were sitting down and following
directions. Most importantly everyone is passing in English.”
Williams has important advice for those considering teaching abroad.
“Coming here has been a big culture shock,” said Williams. “You need to investigate
areas where you apply. Make sure it will be a place where you will feel comfortable
and find places that will pay for your accommodations, your flights and medical insurance.
Also, some places require you to have your degree in what you teach, so make sure
you take that into account. An education at MC can help you get there. You just have
to start the journey. You can do it.”