Globe-hopping alumna says Carlow prepared her for a “magical and amazing” adventure.
In the fall of 2013, armed with four words of Japanese and her bachelor’s degree in education from Carlow University, Amanda Glevicky moved to Japan to teach English at a private school for all ages.
“In Japan, everyone wants to learn English,” she said during a recent visit home in May. “A lot of people there know how to read and write English, but when they try to speak they get so nervous.”
They get nervous? What about the nerves it takes to live on your own in a foreign land for a year and a half? “I’ve always wanted to travel the world,” says Glevicky, whose family lives in Bellevue, Pa., a northwest suburb of Pittsburgh.
Becoming a world traveler is a big step for anyone, let alone someone who had never before been outside the United States (not even Mexico or Canada), and never further west than Wisconsin. Glevicky never hesitated, even though the only Japanese words she knew ahead of time were sumo, sushi, konichiwa, and sayonara. Some might be nervous at such a situation, but Glevicky prefers to call it “exciting.”
“Japan is magical and amazing,” she said. “This was an incredible opportunity to teach in a different culture.”
Glevicky learned of the opportunity to teach English in Japan while being a work-study in the Center for Global Learning at Carlow. That’s when she learned about Amity, an organization that runs a chain of private English schools in Japan. Glevicky spent the past year and a half teaching in a school for older children, but when she returns to Japan, she will teach at a pre-school.
Aside from the language barrier, the cultural differences between the U.S. and Japan really stand out for her. For one thing, people don’t shake hands in Japan.
“Everyone bows to each other,” Glevicky says, demonstrating a bow as she says this followed by a soft, “Thank you very much.” And then there’s pause every afternoon for tea time. “Everyone drinks tea,” she says, “even the youngest students.”
Perhaps the biggest difference between Japanese and American culture is the attitude parents have towards their children’s teachers.
“Teachers are highly regarded in Japan,” she says. “Parents in Japan defer to the teacher. You are the sensei.” As she says the word, “sensei,” she again bows slightly to demonstrate how parents in Japan would act around her; an attitude that is still evident even though Glevicky needs a translator to talk with her students’ parents. “I usually just ask one of the other teachers to serve as a translator,” she explains.
It may seem like it’s simple, but Glevicky has been on a long journey before she ever reached Japan. After graduating from Northgate High School, she went to a technical school for two years to study video production, but that didn’t resonate with her. She got a job at Pittsburgh’s Children’s Museum, and that’s where she discovered her love for teaching. Carlow was recommended to her by a co-worker there, and she transferred for her final two years.
“[Carlow education faculty members] Sister Roberta Campbell, Sister Marilyn Llewellyn, Rae Ann Hirsh, and Rene Pico helped me a lot,” she said. “They gave me so much advice, and helped steer me to where I want to go. I don’t know where I’d be without them.”
The answer to where she’d be without them is probably a lot closer to home, but also a lot less excited about the life she is leading. She credits her mother with giving her the inspiration to look at Japan as an option, although she admits to feeling a bit homesick at times, especially around holidays. Plus, the 13-hour time difference can be a bit difficult to navigate, but, through the wonders of technology, she stays close to her family.
Most of all, she believes that she is experiencing what she was meant to experience.
“From the Children’s Museum to Carlow to Japan, it all seems like the right choice for me,” Glevicky said. “I love Carlow.”
Find out more about Carlow University's Early Childhood Education.