Kent Hamilton graduationสวัสดีครับ. สบายดีไหม? /sa wat dii kap. Sa baaii dii mail?/

Hello. How are you? Greetings from "the land of smiles", or as it is better known, the Kingdom of Thailand. If you love teaching and are interested in living and working internationally and becoming part of a community, not just being a "tourist", if you want to live life as an adventure while helping people learn, or if you want to help international students or immigrants learn English so they can succeed and become part of the community, UAB's ESL graduate program can make it a reality. It is a huge commitment, but I have found it to be very worthwhile. But, I think I am getting a little ahead of myself, so let me back up and introduce myself and tell you a little about myself and the life UAB has allowed me to have, as well as how a "Bama boy" came to live and teach in southern Thailand. 

Kent Hamilton sunriseI am a former firefighter/paramedic and a lawyer, as well as a 2012 graduate from UAB's ESL graduate program in the MA-TESOL track. Shortly after graduating with my MAEd, I took up a position as a lecturer in the Faculty of Commerce and Management's Department of Languages at the Prince of Songkla University's Trang Campus, where I still teach. Trang, Thailand is on the west coast of peninsular Thailand. Our university has 5 campuses across southern Thailand and offers undergraduate and graduate programs in business, management, the sciences, nursing, engineering, tourism management, and has a major research hospital and medical school among other programs. In many ways, it is similar to the UAB system and UAB.

It is a "tough life" living and teaching in tropical southern Thailand with the beaches (one of our campuses is on the resort island of Phuket), the mountain and lowland rainforests, and the vibrant mix of the various indigenous Thai, Malay, and Myanmar (Burmese) cultures, foods, and languages here, but someone has to do it! The reason I get to do it, and make a living doing it, is UAB's MAEd/ESL. Well, that, plus the woman who is my wife, and a pair of dynamic balls of energy and amazingly wonderful ladies who became my teachers, mentors, and, I am proud to say, friends. Let me explain.

Kent Hamilton students Khon playI was introduced to a young lady from Thailand who worked for the Royal Thai Ministry of Public Health as a Nursing Instructor and was studying for her Master's at UAB's School of Nursing before going for her PhD. Well, we fell in love and I knew if I was going to marry her I would be moving to Thailand when she finally finished her PhD and I would have to be able to work there. This is where UAB's ESL program, and Drs. Spezzini and Olmstead-Wang, came into my life.

I had taught continuing education and professional development classes for fire fighting and EMS, and did some "substitute/guest" teaching in some law classes and had always enjoyed it. ESL/EFL teachers are in high demand around the world, especially native English speakers with good training and credentials, so getting a job teaching wouldn't be a problem. But, I wanted to be well-prepared and UAB's MA-TESOL track was quite attractive to me, so I contacted Dr. Spezzini and asked her to take some time out of her busy schedule and talk with my soon-to-be-wife and me about the program. After the meeting, I went home and immediately applied.

Kent Hamilton conference largeI cannot say enough great things about the program, all the people teaching in it (as well as the other professors in the School of Education who were always friendly and helpful), and who were associated with it at the sites where we did visits and our pre-practicum and practicum hours. The classes were interesting and prepared me for the multitude of challenges that I have faced. They provided me with a great pedagogical foundation; skills to deal with issues related to teaching, designing courses, classes, and activities for my students; and the deep linguistic understanding of English and how it related to, and differs from, other languages. I also developed a wonderful professional support network through my participation in the program consisting of members of the SOE faculty, my fellow graduates, and the educators that I met through the activities I participated in. Getting to learn from Dr. Susan Spezzini and Dr. Susan Olmstead-Wang, to be the beneficiary of their experiences teaching overseas, knowledge of teaching ESL/EFL and linguistics, and their caring support which has continued even now are some of the intangible, inestimable values of this program and something I could never praise highly enough.

Kent Hamilton students costumesWe live here in Trang, Thailand and have been accepted by and become part of the fabric of the community. We are members of several civic groups, a couple of bicycling clubs, and are involved in many local activities, not just as participants, but as planners and members of the community. This is part of becoming part of the community and really living within it and not being a traveler or a mere tourist. You get to learn so much more about a place, its history and culture, and make friends. On our weekend biking adventures wtih our friends we may end up chatting with the CEO of an international company, the president or vice president of my (or another) university, or even the provincial governor and vice governor or a former Prime Minister. I have also had many memorable, amazing, and almost surreal experiences and adventures here like having the honor of meeting and dining with two former Prime Ministers of Thailand , the ambassadors of Indonesia and Malaysia, and numerous other dignitaries and celebrities because of my position at the university. All of this, this amazing life I have today, is directly possible because of UAB.

Kent Hamilton bicycleIf you are serious about becoming a professional ESL/EFL teacher, especially if you are interested in working abroad, I highly recommend UAB's program. If you choose to make the commitment, perhaps you could find yourself chatting with me about a lesson plan as the hornbills chatter in the trees while we have some som tam and kao niao (spicy papaya salad and sticky rice) and watch the sun sink into the Indian Ocean, or wherever you would like to find yourself. It really does open a whole new world to you. 

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