In June, more than 40 teachers from the Philippines arrived in Las Vegas. They are the Clark County School District’s seventh batch of newly hired instructors since it began hiring J-1 and special ed teachers from the Philippines in 2016.
Andrea Anciano and Reynaldo Advincula, two freshly hired educators, expressed their joy at the prospect of working on American soil.
“Hindi ko po inakala na dadating yung point na makakapunta ako dito (I didn’t expect that I would be able to come here),”Anciano admitted.
“Pagkatapak ko sa L.A. airport, talagang naiyak po talaga ako. Sobrang fulfilling po yung naramdaman ko (Upon stepping into the L.A. airport, I really cried. It felt very fulfilling).”Anciano added.
Advincula, on the other hand, stated that it was his first time flying. He stated,
“paglapag ko, hindi ako makapaniwala na nasa America ako (upon landing, I couldn’t believe I was in America).”
The two teachers admitted that they would have to exhaust their resources and rely on lending institutions to cover the processing fees, which totaled half a million pesos, or $10,000. According to Anciano,
“I come from a poor family. Wala po talaga akong kakayahan na makapunta dito. I’m the breadwinner. Wala po akong nanay tatay (I come from a poor family. I really had no means to come here. I’m the breadwinner. I have no mother and father).”
Mark Zoel Masangkay, a magnet math teacher, is also among the fifth batch of J-1 teachers. Coming to the United States during a pandemic is an emotional struggle for him.
“The fear of the unknown, of what will really happen to you. You are diving into a new culture, at the same time what’s gonna happen when it comes to your physical health? It’s more of the emotional stress, more than anything because it’s really hard to leave your family in a very uncertain setting,”Masangkay said.
But despite the challenges, Masangkay is confident about the Clark County School District’s Covid-19 safety protocols.
The district’s starting salary for teachers is 40-thousand dollars a year. It provides J-1 visas to educators from other countries who are willing to work in Las Vegas for three years, with an option to renew contracts and stay for another two years. For the J-1 teachers, the pay is much better than in the Philippines where teachers make between 5,000 and 7,000 U.S. dollars annually.