Alumna Theresa Norris graduated in 2018 with a mission: to bring the light of her faith and extraordinary education in the liberal arts to others as a teacher. She spent some time over the summer applying for a variety of positions, but, in the end, she chose to challenge herself and accept an offer to teach in China, as a member of the faculty at the Beijing Royal School.

Norris, a history major who grew up in Front Royal, Virginia, first began thinking of global opportunities following graduation while applying to the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship program this past spring. The Fulbright Scholarship offers honorees the opportunity to study overseas, serving as cultural and intellectual ambassadors from the U.S. while in a foreign country. Norris was selected as a semi-finalist for the scholarship, only just missing out on becoming one of 2018’s honorees.

While she was not selected, Norris still considered living overseas for the first time. That thought process opened her up to a new idea — to join a friend of hers who was hired as a teacher at the Beijing Royal School in China. Norris wanted to become a teacher and saw the opportunity as the chance of a lifetime. She applied, interviewed, and was hired as a member of the faculty.

“My final semester of college, I took Dr. Chris Lane’s Catholicism in Asia course and realized how utterly uneducated I was about that side of the world, and how vast, rich, and beautiful their culture and history was, and is,” says Norris. “Being somewhat familiar with China and being able to speak to its rich history of education certainly helped me out in my interview. When the opportunity presented itself, I was happy to seize it.”

The front gate of the Beijing Royal School.

Norris moved to China in August, and immediately got to work as a 1st and 2nd grade English teacher and as a 2nd grade science teacher at the school. The transition took time, as is to be expected, but Norris is loving this opportunity, as well as the chance to bring her Christendom perspective to everyone she encounters at the school and elsewhere in China.

“I want to build good relationships with my students and colleagues and develop personally and professionally — I’m here to learn as much as I am to teach,” says Norris. “One of the cool things about Beijing is that it’s a center for foreigners, so you end up meeting people from around the world.”

Teaching is a noble profession, with a huge responsibility attached to it. Taking on this role is a hefty task anywhere, but especially so in Norris’ position. Nevertheless, Norris is loving her new life as a teacher in China and is relishing both the challenge and the cultural education she is receiving in turn.

When founding Christendom, Dr. Warren Carroll envisioned the educating of students who would then become part of the lay apostolate, going out to impact the entire world and change the culture. Norris is truly taking that mission to heart, having a global impact just a few short months separated from graduation.

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