Alumni Spotlight on Richard Hall: From Corporate Finance to Teaching in a Farming Town in Thailand
Greenheart Travel recently connected with alum, Richard Hall, to catch up on how teaching English in a small farming town in Thailand has influenced his personal and professional journey. After almost a year in a Thai classroom, and multiple travel experiences abroad, Richard shares how one professor inspired his travel adventure, and how teaching abroad has contributed to his current career.
Do you have a favorite memory from your time teaching abroad?
This is definitely a difficult question to answer. My time abroad was filled with so many wonderful memories; I feel like I would be doing myself an injustice by only highlighting one.
I could talk about the many friends from around the world I met and still keep in touch with, or I could talk about my ~1,000 Thai students and number of Thai teachers who I absolutely fell in love with, or I could talk about the little town I lived in, where I was the only native English speaker.
However, I will simply summarize by saying that my favorite memory from my time abroad was the feeling of being alive and happy. Waking up every day with a smile on my face knowing that I was doing what I wanted, making a difference not only in my own life but those of many others. This is something I will continue to think about every day for the rest of my life.
Why did you decide to teach English in Thailand?
My decision to travel abroad has its own detailed explanation, summarized by my wish to get out of the corporate bubble I had found myself slaving away in. My decision to use Greenheart Travel was simply by word of mouth.
About a year before making my own decision, I had a close friend use Greenheart Travel, and she had nothing but wonderful things to say about the program and her experience. Of course, I followed up with my own research and literally could not find a single bad review. The process, logistics, and all the craziness of moving abroad was made so simple. I would recommend Greenheart Travel to anyone contemplating traveling/working abroad.
Was there anyone that first inspired you to explore new cultures?
At the University of Colorado Boulder, I was a business student studying finance. During my junior year, I had a finance class with a Professor named Michael Palmer, whom has since retired. Every year he hosted a study abroad opportunity in London called “The London Finance Seminar.” Both the school and Mr. Palmer were very encouraging and suggested the opportunity to live in a different country, while also contributing towards my degree.
Ultimately, I decided to be a part of this program, which was also my first experience living outside of the U.S. Little did I know, this was just the beginning of my many experiences living abroad. As a young college student, I am incredibly grateful for the support both CU Boulder and my professor gave me, as this opportunity would significantly change my life for the better.
What are you doing these days? How did your teaching experience influence your personal or professional path?
Since returning from my Thailand, my personal and professional path have been far from normal. I have returned to the finance world, although with a smaller firm which happens to have offices around the world. I am nearly two years in and have had the chance to live and work in Singapore, and am now set to move to our London office for the foreseeable future (ironically where it all began).
My employer was thrilled with my decision to travel and work abroad, which positively influenced their decision to hire me. In terms of work, I get to analyze foreign exchange markets from Asia to Europe to South America. It really is a dream come true.
How has travel changed your perspective?
Travel has changed my perspective in more ways than words could ever describe. I’ve gone beyond my comfort zone, pursued ambitions, and have seen how the rest of the world works. Nothing alters the way you view your own life like seeing the way other people live theirs.
Not only will you be more appreciative and thankful for the life you have, you will have a new sense of wonder and understanding. Life is different everywhere you go, soak it in, no country or even city lives the same. Each has different cultures and beliefs, and when you travel you see that no matter how different people are, there is inherent goodness in most everyone.
There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about this. Traveling has permanently placed a smile on my face.
What advice would you give to someone who’s not sure about going abroad?
The most difficult part, in my experience and with all of those I have known whom have gone abroad, is pulling the trigger. Making a significant life change is definitely not an easy decision. You are leaving family, friends, and life as you know it. The thought of the unknown is and can be incredibly scary. This said, I can honestly say that pulling the trigger was the best decision I have made thus far in my life.
Family, friends and life as you know it will always be there, you can always go back. What I have learned, is that previous life doesn’t really change much. I have now come back from multiple stints of living abroad for 6 months or more just to learn that really nothing has changed at home. Your friends still live in the same routine you knew months back, working the same jobs, and doing the same things.
Yet, you have returned from months and months of really living. You’ve experienced new things, met new people, learned about different cultures but the real kicker is you have learned who you are. In summary, do it, take a chance, it will change you forever.