Chante Greene: A Life Changed

At ISS, the teachers we work with make our jobs amazing. So while we had fun writing our recap of the entire season of job fairs, we also want to highlight individual teachers and celebrate their unique stories. 

In the days after the February job fair, Laura Light (ISS Director of Ed Staffing) caught up with Chante Greene, an amazing educator, mother, and friend of ISS. In the story below, meet Chante and hear about her experience in San Francisco and beyond! 


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Chante has an easy smile, an incredible love for her three children, and a dream she's kept close to her heart for years: "I've always had a passion for travel. And I knew since I was five that I was going to teach. So what better way to go, then to travel and to teach at the same time?"

While finishing up her military service in Georgia, Chante has been using her teaching degree to lead a fourth grade classroom in North Carolina. But even though she hasn't taught abroad yet, her hope to see the world is deep-set. When Chante was younger and her family relocated time and time again with the Navy, her parents noticed their daughter's fascination with the changing culture and landscape. "Everywhere we moved in my childhood, I picked up on little things: language, food, style of clothing," Chante Greene remembers fondly. Her mother told her since she was small: "I feel like you don't just belong in the states -- you need to be immersed in another country or speaking another language!'"

This past February, Chante proved her mother right. As Chante's military service came to a close and she began to earnestly research how to teach abroad, she stumbled upon the February ISS San Francisco conference. The event, held in partnership with Toronto-based Teach Away, brings hundreds of international recruiters and candidates to the City by the Bay. Let me try it, Chante thought to herself. "I got my finances together, got on the plane, said a prayer, and was off!"
 

Diving into the Fair

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Arriving at the conference, Chante was initially overwhelmed by the hotel, with its 24 stories rising like a vertical labyrinth. On top of that, there was the event's pace: with the job hunt streamlined into just a few days, there is a "go here, go there, meet this person, meet that person" buzz to it all. And then there were the people: hundreds of teachers flowing through the hotel, some pulling suitcases behind them, others muttering interview preparation in the corners of the lobby or consulting scribbled notes in the elevator.

"I thought to myself, Am I really in San Francisco? Is this really happening?" Chante recalls laughing. But then, after taking it all in, she prepared for the ride. "Now it's time to get serious," she thought as she headed into the events.

As Chante attended the initial school presentation sessions, she realized not everything would be smooth sailing. While she came with her sights set on a job in the Middle East, she learned from several recruiters that being a single mother made it difficult to obtain a visa, and thus a job. "That was a hard pill to swallow at first," Chante admits, "but I had some good support to help reground me: my friends, family, the ISS team, they all helped me feel better." After coming all this way, Chante was determined to keep moving forward, adopting the perfect attitude for someone ready to teach abroad: I'm not going to limit myself to specific locations. I'm just going to get out there.

With this open mindset, she continued to listen to the presentations and began to fall in love with cities she had never heard of. Armed with new knowledge and a determination to find her place in the world, Chante sat down that night in her hotel room to revamp her portfolio, polish her powerpoint presentation, and think like a recruiter. How do I set myself apart? What kind of things have I done in my classroom that people don't see in other people's classrooms? At the quiet hour of 3AM, Chante finally finished her work, closed her computer, and slept.
 

The Interview

At 8am, the ballroom doors opened to a rush of candidates, all with their resumes and elevator pitches at the ready. The Saturday morning Interview Sign-Up event was larger than Chante anticipated, but she made her way around the room of recruiters, filling up her interview times. She spent the next two days interviewing and meeting various heads of schools around the hotel who were kind, personable, and professional. Yet Chante heard several times over that, with regret, the schools could not bring on a single teacher with three dependents. On Sunday, Chante spoke to the ISS staff about this and voiced her frustrations. ISS Director of Educational Staffing Laura Light assured Chante that this was a school's financial consideration, not a reflection of her teaching ability, and certainly not a reason for Chante to stop trying or to become discouraged. "Everyone pushing me to keep trucking," Chante remembers. "By that time I got to the last interview, I had decided: I'm going to say what I need to say, and I'm going to show you my skills before you tell me no! You're going to at least know what I can do."

Her powerpoint was already queued up on her computer as she rode the elevator up to her last interview, with the Beijing International Bilingual Academy. When she arrived at the recruiters' room, she shook their hands, exchanged polite introductions, and dove right into her presentation. Chante shared the hours of work, care, and creativity that she had poured into her classrooms and described how she would bring the same dedication to BIBA. As she finished her presentation, Chante slowed. She began to carefully explain her family situation, the reactions she'd encountered from other schools to having three dependents...

"Oh, that will not be a problem at all!" one of the BIBA recruiters assured. 

As he went on to describe the diversity of their staff's family dynamics, Chante felt a wave of relief flood over her. "It worked out exactly the way it was supposed to," she says. "It was the last interview, and my emotions at that point were already so intense, it made it even more worth it! That feeling of relief and gratitude, the depth of that blessing? It just made it that much more amazing."

Looking forward

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Chante left San Francisco with a smile, plus a job teaching in one of BIBA's first grade classrooms. As Chante describes with amusement, there are changes big and small in store for her family as they move to China this summer: for example, most of the apartments typically don't use a dryer or oven. But things like that are small trade-off for the benefits: the school is offering her an apartment, she'll be teaching a small bilingual classroom, and all three of her children will be attending BIBA, learning Mandarin, taking part in the rich program options, meeting new communities, and traveling the world.

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While the lifestyle, learning, and adventure are falling into place, Chante has received various reactions. "My friends think I'm nuts," she admits with a smile. "But Mom, she's always known I would go overseas one day. I think she's ready to go with us!"

As for her children? "I don't think Zariah totally processes it yet," Chante says, refering affectionately to her two-year-old daughter. "But we've been using a Mandarin app so we can all learn the language!" Her five-year-old son Michael is more than ready. In fact, when Chante's family came to pick her up from the San Francisco airport, Michael was disappointed to learn they weren't leaving for China that very day.

Her nine-year-old daughter Tarayana has some hesitations about leaving home; but Chante, having lived an itinerant childhood herself, relates well to her. "It will be a little strange at first," she assured Tarayana, "but once you get your friends, it's the opportunity of a lifetime. The things you'll pick up, language you'll learn -- you can't trade that for anything"

For Chante, this conference was about much more than finding a job. "I want my children no know there's not just one way to do things. The world is not just white and black. So many other different foods, different colors, different textures -- there's so much out there. I want my kids to know that If we were all meant to be the same, the world would just be small, isolated. But that's not what the world is!"

As Chante sets off on her dream journey this summer, the team here at ISS knows it is just the beginning of her story abroad. It's not just us that thinks so -- when Chante's family asked her when she planned to come back to live in the states, she cheerfully answered: "You know? I'm not sure I am ever coming back!"

Wherever she goes, we'll be cheering on Chante and her family in the years ahead!

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