My tefl Blog

Meet our Dream Scholarship winner: Janine Dukha

Back in 2016 (yep, seems ages ago, we know!), we ran a competition along with the Two Monkeys Travel Group called the Dream Scholarship. Open to all budding TEFL teachers in the Philippines, the idea was to provide a new opportunity for people of that great archipelago nation in the east to travel to Vietnam and discover what life was like working in another corner of Asia.


Fast forward to the sunny springtime (at least we hope it’s sunny!) of 2017 and we’ve got our lucky winner: Janine Dukha. Janine’s prepping for that once-in-a-lifetime trip to the palm-fringed beaches and crumbling colonial towns of Nam’ as we type. The bag’s being packed, the TEFL skills are being honed, and the wanderlust…well, the wanderlust is, no doubt, in overdrive.


Over the next couple of months, we’ll be following Janine’s progress as she discovers the wonders of this Southeast Asian jewel. We’ll update you on everything from the ins and outs of her teaching to the awesome, bucket-list-busting wonders she encounters between the throbbing streets of Hanoi and the karst peaks of Ha Long Bay. But first, an introduction:


What did Janine win?


Our Dream Scholarship competition asked participants to submit an up-to-date CV and a 1,000-word personal statement. We wanted to find candidates who could demonstrate a real passion for teaching, a desire to help others, and – crucially – a financial need; one that might have prevented them from traveling the world using TEFL. After that, we whittled all the awesome applicants down to just 10, and conducted interviews and questionnaires to come up with the perfect match. Bingo: Janine.

The prize was the full shebang; aimed at providing the candidate with all the tools necessary to forge a new life of adventure and teaching abroad. We provided a 120-hour accredited TEFL course, roundtrip flights from the Philippines to Vietnam, two months of paid accommodation in a city of choice, a trusty travel bag and materials on classroom activity planning.


Now for the good stuff…


Janine Dukha | © MyTEFL/Janine Dukha
Janine Dukha | © MyTEFL/Janine Dukha


“I wanted to pursue further studies and be like, a medical doctor, an environmental lawyer, a social worker for an international institution or work in the corporate world.”


Janine is 25 years old, comes from the sprawling megacity of Manila (the capital of the Philippines) and studied for a BSc in psychology back in university. And if that seems like an unusual place to launch a bid at a TEFL career, that’s probably because Janine was planning on a whole load of other different jobs before she decided on the teaching world – doctor and corporate worker were just two she mentioned.


“I believe that teaching is one of the greatest and noblest professions; and while the fulfilment of being a teacher is incomparable, it may be challenging at times, too.”


It didn’t take long for Janine to fall in love with her new career choice. She mentions the long hours and the hard work involved with being a successful teacher, but is also quick to point out how that’s all more than balanced out by the rewards gained. Now, tutoring and educational work is a calling…


“A couple of years ago, I stumbled upon the Two Monkeys Travel blog and it was wonderful to know that one of the writers, Kach, was a Filipina just like me! And I thought, hey, if she can travel the world, then maybe I can too!”


We know that inspiration from those awesome guys at Two Monkeys isn’t difficult to come by, and it seems as though Janine was another of those avid readers who nurtured a sense of wanderlust from flicking through their blog posts. More than that though, with one half of the Monkeys being Filipino – like Janine – the prospect of globetrotting from destination to destination became much more realistic than ever. Janine felt that she could overcome those financial obstacles stopping so many of her pals hitting the road, and set her sights on a life of travel.  


Japanese Bridge, Hoi An, Vietnam | © Paul Mannix/Flickr
Japanese Bridge, Hoi An, Vietnam | © Paul Mannix/Flickr


“I have never travelled abroad so I am really excited for this trip. Vietnam is an interesting country. It is historically and culturally rich and I am sure there is so much to see and learn. Being neighbors in the region, it would be really intriguing to see our similarities and differences.”


Janine’s first trip abroad promises to be a really exciting one. Already eager to see the cultural connections that exist between the Philippines and its neighbour across on the Indochina Peninsula, she also mentions a whole host of awesome destinations up and down Vietnam that have already staked their place on the itinerary. There’s the enchanting colonial architecture of Hoi An. There’s the breathtaking French-style churches of Ho Chi Minh City. There’s the UNESCO wonders of carved and chiselled Halong Bay. There’s the untrodden old imperial city of Hue. There’s the wealth of pagodas and the rolling rice paddies that cascade down from Sapa and the central hills. No wonder Janine’s raring to go!


“But I would be totally thrilled if I get to go and bask in the pristine beaches…”


It looks as though the sparkling sands and palm-fringed shores of paradisiacal Phu Quoc have worked their magic on Janine too, because this jewel in the waters of the Thai gulf is another of the destinations she picks out as a real must. But it’s not just about lazing around on the beaches either, because Janine also wants to catch some waves in Da Nang and hit the swells of windy Mui Ne. Nice.


Bo Bun | © Guilhem Vellut/Flickr
Bo Bun | © Guilhem Vellut/Flickr


“I watched that episode of Anthony Bourdain’s travel to the country and I promised myself that I will go on food trip to eat authentic Bun Cha (like he did with Obama!), Pho, Bahn Mi, Vietnamese spring rolls, and stir fried noodles.”


Ah, stop! With our taste buds all set to ‘max tingle’, we can see why Janine is so darn excited about the food in Vietnam. She’s already mentioned some of the tastiest treats, but perhaps there’s room to add on Hoi An’s trademark cao lau broth, made from handmade noodles and sizzled pork, and the com tam broken rice with an egg top fresh from the roadside stalls.


I grew up in a country where most people speak and understand English so it’s like treading uncharted waters but I am looking forward to actually teach children (or even adults) and make a difference.


Janine is already dealing with one of the major aspects of TEFL teaching: getting used to the idea that you’ll be surrounded by a whole other language and culture every day. Another important step in her preparation for Vietnam is that dedication to making a difference as she travels; not just being a tourist, but being an active participant in the communities she encounters. This was one of the main ideas behind the whole scholarship.


Vietnam, rice paddies | © Loi Nguyen Duc/Flickr
Vietnam, rice paddies | © Loi Nguyen Duc/Flickr


“This could be the break that I have been waiting for to change my life.”


We hope so! The ability to open up new horizons, change lives and positively effect communities all around the globe are three of the reasons why we at myTEFL and Two Monkeys are so passionate about providing language teaching services. We’re looking forward to seeing what exciting, boundary-breaking experiences come Janine’s way in the coming months…

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