Media Friday #3: Teaching with VIPKID

Disclaimer: I am an independent contractor with VIPKID. Before writing this post, I was not compensated in any way to provide a positive review. I simply want to share the pros and cons of teaching with this platform.

Happy Friday, everyone! It’s time for another Media Friday. On Fridays, I like to highlight something in the digital media that is fun and uplifting. In the past, I’ve featured the

vipkidphoto
indeed.com

Litany of Trust and the Blessed is She online women’s community. Today I want to take a bit of a detour. For 15 days, I’ve taught online English classes with VIPKID, a company that provides a private, 25-minute, American-style elementary school experience to children living in China. Truly, this side hustle is so much fun (for me at least), and I think talking about it qualifies for a Media Friday.

Like anything, VIPKID has it’s pros and cons. Let’s start with our pros.

  1. Flexibility: With VIPKID, you can choose the hours you want to work. For those living in EST, peak peak times (yes, two peaks) teaching hours are between 6:00 AM and 7:30 AM. During this time, you have the best chance of being booked by parents. Regular peak hours may lie between may span between 4:30 AM and 8:30 AM, give or take 30 minutes. Weekend nights between Friday and Saturday are all considered peak time. With that, if there’s a day you want to take off, you don’t have to open any slots. If you want to work an all-nighter from Friday to Saturday, you can open those slots. Your schedule is yours.
  2. Prepared Lessons: Though I’m a teacher, I often struggle with lesson prep. While teaching with VIPKID, all of my lessons are prepared on a digital slideshow. Of course, it’s wise to review the slide content and directions before teaching a student, but with a little prep, VIPKID lessons are easy to teach. Just add lots of enthusiastic gestures and props (puppets, dolls, etc). Once in the virtual classroom, you download the lesson and wait for the student to enter. After s/he enters, turn on your camera and just have fun.
  3. Pay: I wouldn’t advise you to sign up for VIPKID today and then quit your day job tomorrow. However, it is a great side gig for those who want to make extra money. My base pay is $8 per 25-minute class. If I show up on time, I receive a $1 bonus. If the class I teach is booked less than 24 hours before its scheduled time, I receive a $2 short-notice bonus. If I teach my regular class, show up on time, and it’s a short notice course, I can make $11 per class. Easily $22 an hour for two classes. For a non-short notice class that I teach and show up on time for, I make $9, or $18 per hour.

Now, let’s talk about the cons of working for VIPKID.

  1. Slow Start: I’ll be straight with you, I was hired by VIPKID about 20 days ago. Since then, I have only taught four students. The other four have been student no-shows (I received half pay for these classes). When you are first hired by VIPKID, you will probably only be certified to teach Trial Classes (which are free courses provided to see if parents want to register their child). I believe that since the company assigns these courses to teachers, it may be a while before traffic picks up. Thankfully, just last week I was certified to teach Level 2 and Global Adventure. Earlier this week I recorded a mock lesson and took a quiz for Level 3 certification (I am waiting on the result). Since then, I have taught one registered student and have two more this weekend. You may hear of some teachers who have booked schedules every week, but honestly, they’ve probably done their time like the rest of us. So, if you sign up to teach for VIPKID, and your bookings are slow, it’s normal. Frustrating, but normal.
  2. Tedious Interview Process: A typical VIPKID interview and hiring process looks like this: Apply, record or perform a mock class with a VIPKID mentor, record a second mock class or attend a new teacher kickoff, and then you’re hired. Some teachers may have to do a third mock class before they are brought on as a teacher. Others aren’t hired at all. If you’re willing to teach, the process is worth it. However, if you’re not into jumping hoops, I wouldn’t recommend work as a VIPKID teacher.
  3. Culture Clash: I’ve taught for a year in Korea, and I’ve also worked at a summer camp in rural China. I am familiar with Chinese, and Eastern Asian, culture at large. But, for some teachers who are not as well-traveled or acquainted with other cultural structures, working for VIPKID can sometimes be frustrating. For example, parents are often encouraged to leave feedback for the teacher after a lesson. While most parents leave positive feedback, there are the few who don’t. For example, a parent, after watching the lesson playback, may not think you are energetic enough or that you don’t use enough props. While you may think your lesson was perfect and the student had a great time, a parent may not believe their child received the quintessential American experience in only 25 minutes. As a result, you may receive a poor rating. Luckily, you can appeal this with the VIPKID team.

Overall, teaching with VIPKID has been a positive experience. I enjoy teaching the kids that show up in my digital classroom, and it’s like I get to travel to China every morning. If you have a bachelor’s degree, are flexible, and would like to try your hand at English language instruction, I highly recommend VIPKID.

If you’re interested, you may click the link HERE. Please note, this is my personal referral code and I do receive a financial incentive if you are hired and teach your first class.

Have a blessed Friday! Next week, I look forward to talking with you about participating in the Sacrament of Confession and a visit to the National Shrine of Divine Mercy in Massachusetts.

 

 

Bop Around

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uvmbored.com

Happy Monday!

I pray your week is off to a lovely start. Over the past few days, I’ve acquired new readers. How exciting! For new readers and subscribers, here’s a quick rundown of what you can find on my blog:

  1. First, read why I call my blog Quelpart. That link is here.
  2. I’m on social media, and you can hop over to Connect With Me to learn more.
  3. Need a book recommendation? I track the books I’ve read since 2016 at What I’m Reading.
  4. I’m published at various places around the Web and in print. If you’re interested, my Writing page can take you there.
  5. Also, let’s talk Catholicism. I’ve started a page, Resources for Catholic Living, which is currently under construction, but has recommendations for Catholic media.
  6. Finally, I love to visit churches, cathedrals, chapels, and shrines. Feel free to track my Church Hopping.

This week, I plan to write about offering up our sufferings to Christ. Keep your eyes open, and I’ll see you soon.

 

Words on Wednesday

Hi everyone! It’s been a few days since I’ve posted anything. Life, as it is, keeps on rolling and sometimes it’s hard to throw on the brakes to post. For me, this week has been tediously long: my school district’s fall break is looming ahead within 8 school days, and I have a trip planned. It’s hard to stay focused when you’ve got endless work and vacation planned.

To break up this monotonous grind, I plan to go to Adoration this afternoon. I haven’t been able to go in the past two weeks, and I can definitely see the difference. It’s amazing how one little habit can transform your life. What’s even more amazing is when you stop that one little habit, you see what a blessing it was. Anyway, wherever you are, go to Adoration and receive a blessing this week.

Also, today is the Feast of Korean Martyrs and St. Andrew Kim Taegon, the first native Korean priest. Everyone who knows me knows I have a soft spot for Korea in my heart. I lived there with a Korean family as an English teacher, and it’s truly one of my favorite places in the world. I consider my time in Korea as the beginning of my walk into the Catholic Church. Moreover, I have visited the country almost every year since my return four years ago.

Today, please take a moment to pray for the Korean people, that the atheism that is prominent on the peninsula would turn to conversions for the Lord. Especially pray for North Korea, that the tyranny of communism would come to an end.

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Martyrs of Korea and St. Andrew Kim Taegon, pray for us and the Korean people!

I urge you to remain steadfast in faith, so that at last we will all reach heaven and there rejoice together. // St. Andrew Kim Taegon

Three Tips for a Better Prayer Life

Candles, Church, Light, Lights, Prayer
Pixabay.com
If you’re involved with fellow Christians and you frequent social media, you’ve probably run into this familiar scene: a well-cropped photo with an alluring filter, an open Bible’s pages gently opened to an inspiring message, a highlighted line, a appropriately worn journal angled to the side, and a cup of coffee in the top corner. Yes, the Bible study picture. We’ve all witnessed it. Most of us have probably posted it. The likes and hearts validate us and our pursuit of faith.

Outside of the picture, though, how deliberate are our prayer lives? Do we spend more time curating the picture of the Bible and coffee than we do actually studying and praying? For the past month, I have taken steps to become more intentional in my prayer life. By intentional, I mean making prayer a priority, not just a passing breath as I roll out of bed or ready myself for sleep. But rather solid, uninterrupted time talking to the Lord.

Here are a few tips to help you cultivate your prayer life from passive to intentional:

1. Find a Companion Book. One of the best tools for prayer you can use is a book (or ebook). Personally, I prefer to use the daily Mass readings as a prayer support. I receive a dose of the Old Testament, the Psalms, a second reading from the New Testament (most days), and a message from the Gospels each day. While I highly recommend Abide in My Word for daily Bible readings, you can use any translation you’d like. I will read, and then pray for the needs on my heart based on the passages.

As of yesterday, I began reading the daily meditations in Rediscover Jesus by Matthew Kelly of the Dynamic Catholic Institute. It’s a 40-day devotional series designed for Lent, but it appropriate for anytime of the year. It’s already challenging how much I thought I knew about Christ and the Faith.

2. Timing is Everything. I’ve heard an old saying that says “People have money for the things they want.” I believe this phrase is appropriate for our time: We have time for the things we want time for. We have time for the gym, to go out with our friends, and to watch our favorite television shows. But when it comes to intentional prayer, it’s “Sorry Lord, I just don’t have the time!”

How can we beat this trend? Simple: Find a time and stick to it. What works best for you? For me, it’s the morning. I set my alarm a few minutes early so I can pray and read without feeling rushed. Often, once I’m in the thick of prayer, I don’t miss those few minutes of sleep. I keep this timing consistent each day, even if it’s a day when I sleep in.

For you, mornings may not be the best timing. You may work nights, so the afternoon may be more applicable. Yet, I would still argue for the benefits of morning prayer time. You’ll find that when you start your mornings talking to the King of the Universe, the day flows with much more grace.

3. Use Technology. You thought I would tell you to hide your phone during prayer time, right? Partially. Technology can be a distraction during prayer time, but it can also be a great help to enriching your intentional time with God. Thankfully, there are many apps that can help you find your way to better prayer.

First, Catholics often get a bad rap for “vain repetitions” and scripted prayers as if we don’t pray from the heart (Spoiler alert: The book of Psalms is written prayers). I have found that the use of written prayers has helped me tremendously, and I am able to voice praises and concerns I wouldn’t have thought of on my own. With that in mind, my favorite app is Laudate. You can find it in the Apple Store and Google Play. One of my favorite prayers to pray using the app is the Litany to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. What a great way to pray and meditate on the heart and love of Our Lord!

Other apps I enjoy are Relevant Radio and Echo. Each of these apps connect me to audio prayer, interactive prayers, and prayer reminders.

If you’re looking to boost your prayer life, don’t wait. Start today! Jesus is waiting for you to talk to Him, and when you choose to be deliberate in His presence, you won’t find disappointment. May God bless you as you begin (or recharge) your routine.

Us and Them (or How Not to Evangelize)

I’ve always prided myself on inclusion. Perhaps that’s the first warning in this story, because pride is a very tricky (and sinful) thing.

Need somebody to teach English in the public schools? That’s me. Need another person to give up their college spring break to serve kids living in urban public housing? Hey, that’s me again. I’m there, with no prejudice attached.

We’re all God’s children, right? Sure.

Until I began RCIA and was received into the Catholic Church, I had no particular interest in evangelization. I knew I was supposed to tell people about the Good News of Jesus: that He took on humanity, lived among us, died for our sins, and resurrected to defeat death and sin three days later. Salvation, eternal life, and friendship with God, because of Jesus, is totally free. That’s wonderful news, but I possessed no real interest in telling anyone about it. I was born into a Christian family, the Gospel came pretty easy to me. I assumed it should come pretty easy to everyone else.

Fast forward to the present day, and I’ve experienced a change of heart. As it turns out, not everyone knows about Jesus. And for many, coming to faith isn’t that simple. There’s, unfortunately, often many circumstances that turn people away from the Gospel. Or simply, they may not want to accept it. But still, I want to share the Good News more now than ever.

Entrance: My pride.

Earlier this week, I ordered a stack of cards and a few brochures from the St. Paul Street Evangelization, a Catholic evangelization project that takes the Catholic faith to the literal streets. There’s no SPSE team where I live, but I was able to order the materials to give to acquaintances, leave with restaurant and service tips, and give to a stranger I may encounter.

As I would occasionally leave a Sacred Heart of Jesus card with my restaurant tips last week, I’d feel very good about myself.

“Ahh, spreading the Gospel has never been so easy!” I would think. “This could really set a chain reaction of events in someone’s life and bring countless souls to the Lord.” The satisfaction of a job well done.

So, one evening last week, as I walked through Walmart, I witnessed a familiar sight, one you may know yourself. There was a very overweight woman wearing high-cut jean shorts and a spaghetti-strap camisole for a shirt. There was nothing left to the imagination. With her were a couple of rambunctious kids (whom I assumed did not share the same father).

St Peter'S Basilica, Vatican, Catholic
The Lord hitting me with the truth. (pixabay.com)

 

Though I came in contact with the woman for less than one second, it’s as if the Lord asked in that moment, “Would you share the Gospel with her if I asked you to?”

I felt my stomach and psyche knot up.

“Lord,” I said. “I know I should, but maybe somebody else could do that. Now, if you need someone to report for duty in an exotic land or to volunteer to sweep the floor at a convent, You know I’m ready to go.”

Basically, I was telling Jesus that I didn’t want morbidly obese women who didn’t wear appropriate clothing and couldn’t control their loud kids in Heaven with me. I pushed the woman and the thought to the back of my mind, thinking of other things I deemed much more important.

The next morning, I attended Mass at a local parish close to my hotel. I settled in, did the standard look-around that comes with visiting a new church, and waited for the Mass to  begin. As I waited, I prayed that Jesus would show Himself to me during worship.

What a dangerous prayer for anyone to pray.

After the typical Catholic gymnastics, the ups and downs, it was time for the homily. Sunday’s Gospel reading was from Matthew 15:21-28, the story of the Canaanite woman and her demon-oppressed daughter.

In brief: The Canaanite woman asks Jesus to heal her daughter, but His disciples tell Jesus to “send [the woman] away.” The woman begs Jesus to heal her daughter, even after Jesus says that “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” The woman quickly responds: “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” To this, Our Lord replies, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.”

In Jesus’s day, Canannites were a despised race, typically seen as the “other” in society. Rarely, did an Israelite want anything to do with the Canaanite, especially a Canaanite woman. As I listened, the parish priest speculated that Jesus may have played upon his disciples’ prejudices, only to turn the tables on them. Jesus’ disciples, it seemed, only wanted a certain type of person to experience Jesus’ healing and teachings. Yet, Jesus showed that His teachings were, and still are, applicable to everyone. With only her faith, the Canaanite woman’s daughter was healed and a miracle was performed. Race, sex, and social status was not a hindrance for Jesus.

As I listened, this message struck me between the eyes. Less than 24 hours earlier in Walmart, I was no better than Jesus’ disciples. Sure, I wanted salvation for everyone. I want everyone to know Jesus. But, when I was asked “Would you share the Gospel with her if I asked you to?,” I wasn’t about to abandon my neat, clean Christianity to minister to a woman who I assumed had no sense of common decency. During Mass, I prayed and I asked for forgiveness. I realized that when you ask Jesus to show Himself to you, it’s best to prepare for discomfort rather than nice platitudes.

And for this discomfort, I am grateful.

 

 

 

Total Eclipse Weekend: Travel and Blog

Wallpaper, Background, Eclipse, Twilight

About 30 minutes ago, I arrived with my parents in Western Kentucky to witness what has been called “The Great American Eclipse.” Hopkinsville, a city about 52 miles away, will experience totality, meaning the the eclipse will achieve 100% coverage for 2-3 minutes. In the little city in which we’re staying, we will have totality, but with fewer crowds (a relief!). Also, I’ve witnessed a handful of lunar eclipses in my day. Maybe even a vague memory of a partial solar eclipse (thought I’m not sure). So, this is a very fun experience that I’ll always remember. Nature is great!

Finally, I’m strongly considering which direction my blog should take. For a long time, the niche was “happiness.” I directed my writing towards events and things that produced happiness in my life. However, since beginning the blog in April 2016, I’ve gone through many life changes. I’ve found that my blog now tends to gravitate towards my Catholic faith and the everyday life. If you have any suggestions, please comment below or message me. I want to take my writing more seriously and produce content that is beneficial for both my readers and myself.

In the meantime, catch the eclipse (and don’t forget your special viewing glasses!).

You Don’t Have To

This afternoon I visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. I hadn’t been since June 2001, and even then, it was a brief visit. Today,  I ducked into the Cathedral after crossing the street and fighting tight throngs of tourists. It was nice to sit in the church and take in all of the images and sights I ignored as an 11-year-old: The high ceilings, the shrines, the beautiful altar, and of course, the stained glass windows.

Twitter, Facebook, Together
pixabay.com

Around us, hundreds of tourists (many traveling in from outside of the United States), took pictures. The time spent of the photographs was often detailed, even with a high quality camera. As I knelt at my pew, I felt the urge creep up in the back of my mind.

“If you snapped a picture of the altar right now, it would look great on Instagram. Especially with the right filter. Think of the ‘likes’ you’ll get!”

As I live and breathe, the very thought crossed my mind. I don’t hide my love for social media. Through Facebook and Twitter, I’ve connected with old friends and friends I’ve never met in person. I enjoy posting photos of my travels, and I enjoy that other people enjoy the posts, too. Likes and hearts are nice.

However, I often find myself under pressure. Pressure to find a perfect Instagram filter, pressure to word a caption just right, pressure to share every event.

But, as I sat in the pew this afternoon, I mentally sat on my hands, thinking,  “You don’t have to document every single event, every single moment. It’s okay to let life fly ‘under’ the radar.”

As difficult as it was (and I struggled), I kept my phone in my purse. I didn’t take any photos at St. Patrick’s today. And the result is clear: I still feel as fulfilled and satisfied as if I had taken a photo, doctored it up with filters, and posted it on Facebook. More the same, while eating dinner at a kitschy new Korean restaurant in Manhattan Koreatown, I sat on my hands. I can eat galbi and bibimbap without posting a picture of it on Twitter. It tastes the same, and I enjoyed it without all of the pressure of “Is this lighting good enough for this picture?”

In conclusion, has this moment of clarity “cured” me? No. I have a picture of a flower and chocolate box window display in Rockefeller Plaza I’d like to post. I may, I may not. We will see. Only time and Instagram will tell.

But…

Next time, when you feel hurried or pressured to post an update or photograph of an event, remember: It’s okay. You can live life in peace, without the worry of likes and external validation.