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Exploring the world: Wapak grad travels across the world to teach

March 23, 2012

Paula Davies, a graduate of Wapakoneta High School, currently teaches in a school in the country of Tunisia. She is pictured with some of the Tunisian students in a small village in south Tunisia, where they traveled to donate school supplies.

A Wapakoneta native, who has a passion for traveling and teaching, has found a way to do both.

Paula Davies, a 2000 graduate of Wapakoneta High School, teaches at an international school in the country of Tunisia, which is in northern Africa along the Mediterranean Sea, where she has spent the last school year living and teaching.

“I got hooked traveling,” the daughter of Beverly and Daniel Davies said of why she applied for this temporary teaching position. “I went to Thailand for spring break, I took my mom on a Mediterranean cruise. And last year I applied to teach music (in Tunisia).”

While Davies will be moving back to the United States this summer, she said she has learned a lot during her one-year stay.

“I didn’t know anybody,” Davies said of the country. “It was an adventure. I loved it.”

Davies teaches preschool, kindergarten and first grade music and physical education.

“It’s interesting learning about them,” Davies said, of the culture and people of Tunisia. “Over there, the diversity aspect is interesting. They come from so many cultures and they blend together.”

Davies loved learning about her students’ background in music and what they listened to growing up.

“There are 60 different nationalities,” Davies said of the students she teaches, “and some are bilingual and trilingual, and they are only five-years-old.”

Davies, who currently teaches at the American Cooperative School of Tunis, also has taught in Kazakhstan, during the summer of 2009.

“I love seeking out opportunities to do what I love to do in places I love,” Davies said.

A few years ago, Davies decided to start traveling and to see the world, which she said has been one of the best decisions of her life. This allowed her to not only experience other parts of the world, but she was able to teach there, too.

“When it comes to traveling, there is always going to be a reason you can’t,” Davies said. “So apply, buy a plane ticket and open your eyes to the world.

“There is a big world out there,” she said. “It (traveling) is definitely going to open your eyes to the way the world works.”

Traveling to different countries has made reading the news, for instance, more meaningful for Davies.

“It makes news stories more real to me,” Davies said. “Like when I read about Syria, because I know Syrians. I teach Syrians.”

Davies graduated from Wheaton College, which is outside of Chicago, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in music education. She lived in downtown Chicago for two years after college graduation.

While in high school, Davies was involved in many programs, including show choir, marching band, symphonic choir, a quartet, the musical and she played the flute.

She said she was inspired by her teacher, Jenny Kent, the former music teacher at Wapakoneta High School, to go into music education.

“I did the whole city life for two years,” Davies said, “but my dream was to live in Alaska.”

Davies reached her dream, as she has been a resident of Wasilla, Alaska, for five of the past six years, teaching music, with the exception of this past year while she was in Tunisia.

“We had traveled there in the summers,” Davies said of Alaska. “I thought, I’m a teacher, so I can go anywhere.”

With Davies’s profession, this allows her to have her summers free to travel and to teach classes in another country, like she has done recently, because of her schedule.

“Teaching is a great gig,” Davies said. “I think I have the best job.”

In Alaska, Davies said she made many friends.

“Like wherever you go, the people make the place,” Davies said.

Davies is involved with many things she loves to do, including hiking, skiing, playing hockey and soccer.

“I can do that all there,” Davies said. “I love exploring the trail system in the mountains.”

Davies has lived in a small town, a big city and now Alaska, while also visiting and living in other countries.

“I went from small town Ohio to big city Chicago to outback Alaska to Africa,” Davies said.

Now Davies plans to settle back in Alaska and continue her teaching there.

But her traveling is not ending, as she plans to visit other places such as Australia, New Zealand, India and The Netherlands in the future — but this time, she said she will not teach there, probably just visit.

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