When Jacob Dobbs goes to far-flung places, a frequent occurrence, he does so not as a tourist but as someone who wants to learn and serve. The third-year International Business Honors (IB Honors) major and new president of the College of Business Administration’s International Business Honor Society (IBHS)—which has a strong focus on international community service—has a long history of civic engagement.
Currently, he works and teaches in Beijing, part of a summer program that combines a twenty-hour-per-week job with teaching English fifteen hours weekly at a local school. He won an award from the Asian Studies Department at Florida International University to help him with his expenses in a program recommended by one of his Chinese professors.
Dobbs applied for the opportunity at the Teaching English as a Foreign Language International (TEFL) web site, www.TEFLintl.com. TEFL partners with the Institute of International Education, which offers paid internships overseas. He began his stint in China by going through TEFL training to get certified to teach.
“The Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate enables students like me to have a three-month contract during which I get practical experience working in a local job and teaching.”
“The Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate enables students like me to have a three-month contract during which I get practical experience working in a local job and teaching,” he said.
Arrival in Beijing brings challenges.
A seasoned traveler, Dobbs weathered several early misadventures upon his June arrival in Beijing.
“Following the sun for fifteen hours from New Jersey to Beijing was crazy enough, but stepping off the plane brought back a lot of nostalgia from my experience in Thailand three years ago,” he said. “I had walked into another sea of taxi drivers, people waving signs with names on them, and tour guides. And, unfortunately, just like in Thailand, my name was not on any of the signs that greeted me after walking through the entrance gate.”
Eventually, he “caught sight of a little hand extending from the crowd with ‘Jacob Dobbs and Shaun Callahan,’ (another program participant) printed on a piece of paper. My brief relief was followed by increasing concern when I actually met the person who would be taking us to what I thought would be our apartment. The little hand came from a girl. . . who is no older than I am, apparently had no connections with our program, couldn’t drive, and couldn’t speak a word of English.”
After a number of other mishaps over a three-hour period, Dobbs finally found himself in the right place and had a happy ending to the day when the program supervisor appeared to take him and Callahan to dinner for, what else, Beijing duck.
Within a brief period, Dobbs settles in.
By mid-June, Dobbs had begun an internship in marketing at a pan-Asian magazine company called Asia Weekly and continued to work on acquiring the language certificate.
“I’m working hard, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t had time to enjoy the history at a few temples and experience the serenity of Beijing’s gardens.”
“I’m working hard, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t had time to enjoy the history at a few temples and experience the serenity of Beijing’s gardens,” he said.
Rotary International helped shape his international vision.
Dobbs has traveled around the world since the end of tenth grade, often expedited by Rotary International programs. One, Interact, focuses on community service for students 14-18 and brought him to Japan for a short period. Another, Rotary Youth Exchange, took him to Thailand for a one-year, student-exchange in 2005. That event put him in the country—and almost in harm’s way—during the December tsunami. An article titled “Youth Exchange Student Volunteers at Tsunami Disaster Scene in Thailand” chronicles his experiences and his significant contributions to the relief effort. Dobbs received considerable praise for his work, including recognition as a distinguished volunteer by the United States Embassy in Bangkok.