( ENSPIRE Feature ) Dr. Denise Shares Her Journey as a Teacher in China and The Importance of Being a Jill of All Trades
ENSPIRE Contributor: Keegan Kerns
In her recent book “Blind Faith,” Dr. Denise Yvette Mose explores her life-changing journey as a teacher in China. After being a teacher for over 14 years at levels ranging from kindergarten to college, Dr. Denise experienced some burnout in her career until a colleague informed her of an opportunity to teach abroad in China. There she could experience an entirely different culture and travel across both the entire country and continent. She additionally had the opportunity to teach English, Western Culture, Etiquette, and Traveling and Communications, continually pushing herself and improving herself as an individual and a teacher. Through this time in China, Dr. Denise learned the importance of exploring foreign cultures, whether simply for cross-cultural communication or for one’s own self-discovery, which she discusses in her book.
Dr. Denise has used this opportunity along with her past experiences to become a “Jill of all Trades.” Along with her long and successful career as a teacher, she has been a correspondent for NBC, covering famous events from the 2016 Summer Olympics to the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament. She continues to stress the importance of self-discovery, travel, and many other important topics on her award-winning podcast, “Self-Discovery on Sundays w/ Dr. D.”
ENSPIRE Magazine had the opportunity to ask Dr. Denise some questions regarding her book and what she wanted to accomplish going forward.
Q: In your book, you discuss how after over 14 years of teaching, you began to lose a certain motivation, leading you to teach abroad in China for over a year. How did that experience expand your perspective of the world as well as your attitude towards teaching?
A: Teaching abroad was the fresh perspective I needed as a professional educator. A new continent, country, culture, and cuisine further sparked my desire to learn more. While I was on the plane to China, I fully embraced all the newness I was about to encounter. I was ready for a drastic change, and I got that and so much more.
Q: Dr. Denise, how difficult was it to adapt to such a different culture in your time in China, and were there any times you were worried about being out of place?
A: Once I met my interpreter at the Wenzhou Airport in China, it hit me. I’m really not in the USA anymore. No one spoke English, no one. Plus, they stared at me, and I expected that, but then it happened more and more. My Asian students wanted to touch my skin, hair, and even my makeup. This was my opportunity to talk to them about black people, which helped their understanding and not believing what they saw on television. Many of them asked for an American name, and I acquiesced. This was a big deal for them and very cool that they asked me. I lived in Liushi, China, which was four hours from Shanghai. My town was authentically Chinese, with no McDonald’s, Walmart, or Starbucks! You see, most Americans visit the Great Wall of China and go home. That wasn’t me. I was immersing myself in their culture, and they saw me every day. It took me nine months to learn mandarin and truly go out into the city on my own. My roommate was the school tutor, and she spoke perfect English; she taught me Chinese, and it’s a gift I use today. We still communicate. I named her Ivy.
Q: For those who might not have the opportunity to teach abroad as you did, what do you think are some other ways to avoid burnout in your career?
A: A Self-Assessment of your skills is a good first step. What else can you do that would warrant an income? Can you create a product that 80% of the population can use or needs? Seek a Mentor that will be transparent with you and help you avoid pitfalls before you jump into a different career. Burnout is going to come to most people, even those passions that you love so much. It’s ok to step back a bit and pursue unique options.
Q: Do you think simply exposing yourself to new environments and activities can help reinvigorate someone?
A: Absolutely! When we stay in something too long that is not working, it can create complacency. That’s tricky. Eventually, you will resent your situation and lash out at those who don’t deserve it. A good mental space is so critical. Be honest with yourself when you realize a change is needed. Then, do the research and make a plan.
Q: Part of the focus of your book “Blind Faith” is the beauty of traveling. What do you think are some of the essential benefits that everyone could derive from traveling?
A: Oh! How much time do we have? Traveling is its own Education. One benefit to exploring the world is culture. It’s one thing to see the Eiffel Tower in a book, but a totally different experience to walk down the Champs de Mars in Paris, France, and it’s in your face. Traveling also destroys various myths that you may have heard about a certain place. For example, people told me that Dubai was very strict and you had to wear a burka everywhere. That’s not true! I vacationed in Abu Dhabi for a week, and it was extremely diverse; I saw no cops, and it’s stunningly beautiful! Also, you only wear a burka in the Grand Mosque, which I highly suggest you visit. Furthermore, understanding how flights work, layovers, and the experience of flying at 35,000 feet! Getting your passport and seeing how others cultures view the USA. I had three Foreign Professors at my school in China. They said to me, “The whole world watches America on trash day.” I asked them to explain. They said, “In your country, you throw so much away.” I was floored. I had no idea they saw it that way. We have options in America; if one thing doesn’t work, we just buy a new one. They were from Argentina and Pakistan, and we are still close to this very day. They taught me, and I taught them.
Q: You’ve described yourself as a “Jill of all Trades,” including being a teacher, having your own podcast, being an author, and much more. Are any of these activities your favorite to participate in or create, or do you enjoy them individually?
A: I enjoy all of them, and they each provide a therapeutic appeal. However, my favorite title is Aunt. Madison is 11 years old and extremely funny. I enjoy hanging out with her because she’s not impressed at all by my life in Entertainment. She’s proud, but she could care less if I’m interviewing Oprah, Diddy, Dua Lipa, Pastor Shirley Caesar, Remy Ma, or Timothée Chalamet. We do tons of Snapchat filters together.
Q: Having already accomplished so much as an author, teacher, and thought leader, are there any particular goals you still have for your career? In essence, do you have any next major steps in mind for your personal or professional goals?
A: One of my goals is to write a movie. I’m in the process of that now. I’ve hired a Director, Casting Coordinator, and a few other key positions. I’m serving as the Executive Producer, and I literally cannot wait until our trailer is released in July! Another goal is to establish an endowment at my Alma Mater, Alabama A&M University, for music majors. The four years I spent in college were incredible; I plan to pay it forward in the future. Lastly, I will continue to Mentor young people; I have three right now that I’m honing their skills. I believe it’s only right to share what you’ve learned and supported the next generation.
Overall, Dr. Denise’s “Jill of all Trades” approach to life is an inspiring one, especially with the experiences we can see from her Blind Faith journey. In a world that is frequently divided due to people being too insular and simply sitting in their comfort zones, Dr. Denise’s approach of exposing herself to new cultures and sharing her own culture in doing so helps everyone understand each other more and allows us to build stronger connections with each other, no matter where we might come from. Though not every new experience has to be a life-changing journey to China, her experience shows how experiencing new things can help in a journey of self-discovery along with the important task of connecting with new people who continue to push you outside of your comfort zone.
To purchase a copy of Dr. Denise Blind Faith book, click HERE.