Kirby (Cook) Lee (B.A. 2011)
I graduated in 2011 and, as a graduation gift, my parents gave me a two-week trip to Germany to visit exchange students that had recently left UNCG. Shortly after, I headed to South Korea to teach with the Fulbright Korea program. From July 2011 to July 2012, I explored all aspects of Korean culture, society, food, and language. Teaching at a high school was hard work with over 400 students a week, and even though managing a classroom was challenging, the level of English as well as my job satisfaction turned out to be quite low. It was kind of depressing to find that so many students did not care about school, especially English, so I decided to look elsewhere. My attention shifted to Europe, and I decided to look into English teaching in central Europe. Prompted by my trip in 2011, I started to research everything about Germany and the English teaching industry; I narrowed my cities down based on employment rates, businesses, and accessibility, and decided to go to Stuttgart. After my Fulbright year, I went home to NC for a couple of months, and then made the journey to Germany. I couch-surfed for two months with various hosts until I was able to settle down, find work, obtain a work visa (very difficult!), and find a place to live. I’ve been working as a freelance English teacher and Business English trainer since September 2012. I work for several private language companies in Stuttgart where I teach grammar, pronunciation, spoken and written business correspondence to private and corporate clients. Since January 2013, I have worked at a private university, Hochschule Reutlingen, as a lecturer for Bachelor and Master level Business English courses. With all of the work I’ve done, especially in Germany, I’ve never once forgotten about my Classics degree. Whenever clients ask grammar questions, I can always supply them with an explanation or explain the Latin root. Furthermore, I have definitely felt prepared to take on new challenges because my Classics degree taught me the discipline, focus, and organization that has aided me in learning German, Swabian-German, marketing, among other “foreign” topics. Through my work at Hochschule Reutlingen, I’ve decided to head back to the US in 2015 to pursue graduate school so I can fulfill my passion for teaching by exploring educational methods and become a university professor.