Orrie Sielaff (’11): English teacher in the Republic of Georgia
September 7, 2012
Orrie Sielaff graduated from Evangel University in December of 2011 with a major in Physical Education and a minor in Sports Administration. He now holds a teaching job in Georgia, but he is not teaching Physical Education. He is teaching English. And no, he is not teaching English in the state of Georgia. He is teaching English halfway across the world, in the Republic of Georgia.
Originally from Green Bay, Wisconsin, Orrie chose to attend Evangel because he enjoyed the feel of a smaller college and also because he had family in the Springfield area. To this day he believes the student-teacher interaction that Evangel’s smaller size and caring faculty provide is what sets it apart from other universities.
“The unique aspect of an Evangel education is definitely the one-on-one time you can spend with professors,” he says. “Evangel faculty truly have a great interest in their students and will do everything they can to help their students achieve great things.”
During his time at Evangel, Orrie became especially involved in intramural sports. “I made many friends playing sports at Evangel through intramurals,” says Orrie. While he may not frequent the intramural fields anymore, he still maintains his Evangel connections. “I consider the friends I have made at Evangel to be lifelong friends, and I thank God for each one of them.”
Along with developing lasting friendships to take away with him, Orrie acquired several skills through his coursework at Evangel, not just skills useful for teaching Physical Education, but skills that continue to help him as he teaches a different subject in a completely foreign setting. “I remember taking many methods classes, particularly in the Physical Education department,” he says. “These classes gave me genuine teaching experiences, and I feel that this first-hand experience was very crucial for developing my skills as an instructor.”
But how exactly did a Physical Education major from the Midwest land a job halfway around the globe? It all began as Orrie was exploring teaching opportunities overseas. He discovered that Georgia currently has a high demand for native English speakers to come teach in its public schools. Orrie found the opening for a teaching job online, and he now fills that opening, teaching English to first through ninth grade students in a village just 10 miles from the Black Sea. While teaching the kids may be his main job description, Orrie admits that helping the members of the all-Georgian staff, none of whom besides the English teacher know more than a few English phrases, also makes each day interesting.
When he is not working, Orrie enjoys making trips to the beach and exploring the country with fellow English teachers. He has befriended several of these teachers, who come from all around the world to work in the Georgian school systems. Orrie also likes conversing with the Georgian people, who he has found to be very friendly and open to him. He says that he often finds himself invited into their houses as a guest. Though he acknowledges that at one time he never thought he would be working in Georgia, Orrie now looks with thankfulness upon the opportunity that God has set before him.
“This opportunity came as a blessing,” he says. “I had been looking at working overseas, and Georgia was one of the last places I hoped to find a job. However, since coming here I have discovered that Georgia is an amazing country.”