Kindergarten at 60 by Dian Seidel

Imagine deciding to leave the comforts and routines of home to travel to an exotic land with a completely different culture, values, climate and pace of life to teach English as a foreign language. I know that it is not so difficult as many gap year university students will tell you – get a TEFL qualification and away you go, taking time from studying and the academic route in which your life is taking you towards a career and assumed stability and fulfilment. In fact, for young people, it is relatively easy and not unusual at all.

However, what if you were to do this later in life as a retiree? And find yourself not teaching adults  or high school students as expected but corralling kindergartners instead? This is what Dian Seidel lays out for you in this book and I loved it for what it is – a frank and entertaining recount of the time that she and her husband, Steve decided to go to Thailand and teach. However, it was not all as expected and they find themselves having to adapt as well as become bolder in order to enjoy and savour their experience fully.

There is so much to enjoy in this book. I loved the descriptions that Seidel gives of the children in her care, describing their little characters so that I had clear pictures of them and their personalities in my mind as I read. I liked the frankness of Seidel’s narrative as she shows us things through her Western eyes – the difference of things- but there is also a sense of her as a perceptive and intelligent individual throughout, assessing and adapting through the whole trip, knowing what she can compromise on as well as things that she feels should be done differently.

It is a considered and well-written recount through and through.

I would encourage anyone in their later years in life to read this, especially if they are fearful of change or feel that their lives are stagnating. Travelling is, to use a cliché, food for the soul but living in another country is a completely different experience entirely: more immersive, providing a whole different perspective than that provided by a tourist visit and it should be something that everyone should be exposed to – one need look no further than Seidel’s book to see that.

This book was read as an ARC and will not be available for purchase until June 2023.

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