Sunday, February 20, 2011

5 Reasons to Work Abroad

One of the best decisions I ever made as an artist was deciding to work abroad, I had originally made this decision strictly because it offered me more money and health insurance. (BONUS!) But as I come upon my third year in Hong Kong as a teacher I have found that living and working abroad has shaped me as an artist as much as university did. I miss my mother and my sisters every day; and I wish I could be closer to them but taking this step to work independantly and create art in a culture completely different then my own was one of my best decisions.

1.  Losing the Fear
Before I came to Hong Kong I was afraid of a lot of things. I think it was my grad school experience that made me paranoid of others trying to get me and made me afraid of failure. I had just had the darkest moments of my life before I moved here. I took a summer to work in Central City, Colorado and reconnect with two very good friends before I came out here. I enjoyed my summer of fun and moved to HK ready to work and explore. I met people from all over the world who had come to HK to have the same experience as me. Some people were just ready to get lit and have a good time and others were ready to truly take in the culture and embrace the experience. I soon became very confident with my skills and training and lost the fear of having my legs kicked out from under me.
Coming here and teaching drama allowed me to heal in an emotional way that I was truly needing.

2. Living in a Melting pot
I love living in a melting pot. The one thing I hated about growing up in the South was that everyone seemed the same. Everyone seemed white, believed in Jesus and was conservative. I didn't really fit in with that Southern archetype; I was the one who stuck out like a sore thumb. Yes, I was white but I was definitely not conservative. Living in a city where there are all races, religions, cultures and nationalities has been truly eye opening and allowed me to open myself up to different experiences.

3. Seeing and Recognizing a Superior System
America needs to improve it's public transit system. After living in SE Asia with the best public transit in the world I can tell you that America's public transit is pitiful and lacking funding. America's health care system is completely broken. A person shouldn't have to lose their house or go bankrupt in order to pay for their medicine. I live here and I have health care that allows me to live a better quality life than I would in the states, the arts are better supported in foreign countries than the states, and public transit is better in other countries. Experience it for yourself!

4. Learning through the Process of Teaching
Kids often teach you about yourself more then you teach them about Drama or English... Nuff said.

5. Making Art from Nothing
Here in HK I learned to make art from a shoestring budget. Here I do my art with an empty space and nothing else. I tell stories with good actors, themes and with audiences to enjoy them. I never would have had the balls to do this style of art in the states. I would have tried to do it with budgets and in more traditional constraints, I believe. But here because I know I have very little budget, I make non pretentious art for non pretentious people to enjoy. "Theatre to drink beer to" as people say. I learned when I moved here what kind of theatre I enjoyed watching and what kind I enjoyed making. That kind was a kind that was fully collaborative with little/to no technical assistance. I think back to my thesis projects and my final senior project in undergrad and I know my work is better now. It's not trying to be good, it's just telling the story. Simplicity is a sign of perfection as they say!


  1. Definitely true about the public transit! I went to college in HK and now am in grad school in the States and miss the MTR and minibuses badly. I'm a theater fan too, which is odd among my friends (these days movies seem to be more popular, esp. in China where I'm from, where there's not much theater). Just discovered your blog thro Paying Patron Perspective: it's interesting! How could I not know it when I was still in HK? I went to a lot of English-language theater then (I don't know Cantonese and don't really care much about Chinese-language theater).

    1. Just because you don't know the language doesn't mean you can't appreciate theatre in a foreign language. I strive to see a show in every country I travel to.

    2. I forgot: I did see Death and the Maiden and Sunday in the Park with George in Cantonese. The former had surtitles and I had been very familiar with the latter. Both were really good. Should've tried more Cantonese plays.

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