How UVic launched me to Japan and Korea as a teacher

Sometimes we let life guide us, and other times we take life by the horns. But one thing is for sure: no matter how organized we are, or how well we plan, we can always expect the unexpected. – Brandon Jenner

A Spring scene from my high school teacher days in Japan. One of the highlights of my life was going with my students to the National Baseball Championships (Koushien) near Kobe.

Hi friends,

I’m Kane, a 32 year-old UVic alumni and current student here at UVic in the Education PDPP Secondary Program. But today I don’t want to write about my current journey—this post is about how UVic shaped my life and helped me begin a career as an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher in Japan through the JET Programme and Korea through the EPIK Programme.

Both of these programs are regarded as the best of their kind in their respective countries and involve working closely with students in public schools. Both programs can be quite competitive to enter, but UVic provided the right conditions to make my dream a reality.

When I first came to UVic a decade ago, I had just returned to Canada from a year-long high school exchange program in Japan and had been painting houses for my job. My mind was in a totally different place. In my spare time I would do yoga and train for long-distance running, but I also wanted to do more with my experience having lived in Japan—and so I decided to come to UVic.


Images from my cross-country cycling trips in Korea (above left) and Japan (above right)

At that time I hadn’t built the confidence to see that teaching was the right career for me, but Pacific and Asian Studies was the perfect choice for the 20-year-old Kane to become comfortable with public speaking and build confidence. I was also planning on taking Philosophy as my minor, but through the process of trial and error I discovered that Indigenous Studies was a much better area for me to learn about myself. Sometime I’d also like to share how Indigenous Studies shaped my life, but this post is about Japan and Korea.

It’s amazing how people can change over time. I went from being quite an introverted person to really extroverted in the span of a few short years. I think part of the reason is because through grade school I was able to avoid public speaking and it became a challenge for me to overcome the hurdle of actually doing it; however, through repeated practice, I became more and more comfortable with speaking in front of others.

By the time I was ready to graduate, teaching had become an option for me because of the way UVic had built up my character. It doesn’t matter where we begin in life because through our journey we all grow and learn. With my fears no longer holding me back, UVic had launched me into a nice career trajectory in ESL.

My job in Korea involved living in the downtown of a city in a beautiful apartment and working here on this mountain. This was my school where I taught English!

After graduating, I landed my dream job teaching ESL in Japan through the JET Programme, where I worked for 3 wonderful years. My time was so nice that I decided to continue my career and work in Korea where I also worked as an English teacher. Along with my experiences in Mexico, I had a unique opportunity to learn and grow from being in 3 different countries during my twenties. I had chances to make many different connections, ride my bicycle across several countries, and most importantly develop my new dream which involves teaching here in Canada.

My new dream involves being here in Canada and it has progressed from my experiences as an ESL teacher. I never would have considered my current career path as a teacher if I hadn’t gone to Japan as a teacher in 2011. If I hadn’t gone to UVic in the first place, I never would have considered any of this. We don’t always need to know our destination before we begin because the nature of the journey itself shapes us.


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