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Valuable lessons from teaching overseas

While on co-op teaching English in Turkey, Northeastern human services major Alexandra Budge, ’12, discovered she loves education—but she doesn’t want to be a teacher. Instead, her goal is to work for an international NGO helping to promote literacy in areas where access to education is limited.

“Living and working in Turkey really crystallized for me just how big a role literacy gaps play in basic issues—like the spread of disease,” Budge says.

Ironically, she came to that realization while teaching English to college-bound students at TOBB ETU (Engineering and Technical University) in Ankara, Turkey. However, as Budge explored the country and met people of different socioeconomic backgrounds, she began to notice a number of quality-of-life issues that could be addressed through better education and literacy programs.

“Even in the more developed areas of Turkey, I noticed a significant lack of access to general education,” says Budge. “If people had more access to it, they could greatly improve their standard of living.”

“My professional goals really solidified after my experience on co-op,” she says. “I know now that I want to work on educational issues and literacy projects that provide basic knowledge about HIV and how it spreads.”

Budge says that her degree in human services will be a tremendous asset in pursuing a career with an NGO overseas. But it was her co-op in Turkey that taught her the skills—namely to think quickly on her feet—she knows she’ll need in the field. “I never really knew what was going to be expected of me on any given day,” she says. “The place was always changing, which taught me to be adaptive.”

The experience, Budge adds, was invaluable. “I’ve wanted to work overseas for a long time, and this co-op gave me the chance.”

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