Eddie McBride, ’17, MAT’18, always keeps the door open to new opportunities. The last time, that door led him to a rewarding career on the other side of the world, as a teacher and administrator at Lertlah School in Bangkok, Thailand.
The Bronx, N.Y., native followed the example of his good friend, Isaac De Los Santos, ’15, MBA’16, and came to Niagara University after graduating from high school. While a student in the university’s Academic Exploration Program, he took intro courses in education, where he met Dr. Michael Smith, a now-retired professor in the College of Education.
It was Dr. Smith who suggested that McBride, who eventually declared a major in English education, consider teaching in Thailand.
“Dr. Smith would constantly ask me if I were interested in teaching abroad during his daily swims back in my work-study days in the Kiernan Recreation Center,” McBride recalls. “It sounded nice, but for an African American male from the Bronx, that idea was a far cry from reality.”
As McBride completed his undergraduate degree, Dr. Smith launched a new master’s degree program in the Art of Teaching, an online program that would enable students to get their master’s degree in one year while working in Thailand.
“That was one of the selling points for me to decide to take the leap to leave the country,” McBride says.
He questioned this decision only once, when his father became critically ill during his senior year. But with his father’s blessing, he boarded a plane in July 2017 and has been in Thailand ever since.
McBride, who teaches English as a Second Language to primary six students at Lertlah School, planned to stay in Thailand for one year, he says. But after that first year, he decided to stay a second year.
“I didn’t really get to experience the country because I was doing my master’s program,” he says, and learning to “adapt to the cultural, geographical, and societal systems” around him.
After completing his second year, McBride again weighed his options and still found Thailand appealing. However, he also wanted career advancement, so he decided he would stay only if he got a specific promotion within the school. That seemed unlikely, as someone else held the position he desired.
But when another position opened up within the school, it created a “domino effect” of promotions and reassignments, which ultimately led to McBride being offered, and accepting, the job he wanted.
Three and a half years later, McBride is still in Thailand, and still reevaluating his options at the end of each academic year.
“Being here is very comfortable,” he says, noting that the cost of living, the respect given to teachers, and the slower pace of life are some of the aspects that contribute to the allure of living in Thailand. He also enjoys his students and says that working with them is a rewarding experience.
“Moving to, and making a living in Thailand will forever be one of the best choices I have ever made,” he continues. “It is a move that has made my life more well-rounded. The challenges that were presented to me have served to build up my character and mindfulness, while molding me into a more affectionate and compassionate educator and human being. I know making the decision to finally leave is no easy decision. Thailand makes it more and more difficult to leave. It is an awesome place.”