Teach at the heart of the Silk Road in the footsteps of Alexander the Great

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Teach at the heart of the Silk Road in the footsteps of Alexander the Great

Few people know anything about the Uzbekistan.  Once you’ve found out about Uzbekistan’s fascinating history, world heritage Silk Road cities, diverse geography and welcoming people, you’ll be keen to find out more.  What’s more education reform is a political priority, quality teachers are in high demand, and the pay is good.

Ancient Silk Road heritage: Uzbekistan was at the heart of the ancient Silk Road.

It boasts three remarkable cities which were key stop-off points for traders on their way between China and the West.  Itchan Kala, Bukhara and Samarkand are all beautifully restored UNESCO World Heritage sites.  When you visit, you’ll see ancient mosques with soaring minarets, brightly coloured domes and glittering mosaics along with awe-inspiring fortresses and palaces.

No wonder then that Uzbekistan has been fought over for centuries.  Alexander the Great campaigned here in 330 BC.  Arab invaders spread Islam through the re

gion in the seventh century AD, and Genghis Khan’s Mongol hoards overran Uzbekistan in the 13th century. Russian invaders took over in the 1870s and the country faced many rebellions and uprisings, before becoming part of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic in 1924.  Uzbekistan finally gained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Diverse culture: This melting pot of invaders and rulers has led to a remarkably diverse country.  The population inc

ludes Uzbeks, Russians, Iranians, Germans, Greeks and many other nationalities.  You can see the diversity in the food, with centuries-old Uzbek dishes including delicious plov, manti, shurpa and shashlik influenced by cuisine from far and wide. But this is a modern country too.  In the cosmopolitan capital city Tashkent, you’ll find restaurants, bars and beer gardens that would not be out of place in the West.

Rewarding travel destinations: There’s so much more to Uzbekistan that historical tourism.  You can ski just 90km from Tashkent in the mountains of Western Tien-Shan.  Or if cycling, mountaineering, camping or kayaking is your thing the country is diverse and beautiful, with scenery ranging from cotton farms, deserts and steppe to forests, mountains and lakes. And for something completely different, visit the dried-up Aral Sea.  This former 26,000 square mile lake is now just 10% of its original size after Soviet irrigation projects diverted water away.  You can see the ghostly rusting wrecks of ships sitting in what has now become desert.

Exciting and rewarding place to teach: Professionally Uzbekistan is an exciting place to teach.  The government is placing huge importance on education as the country moves from being an agricultural to a modern service-led economy.  The state spends about eight percent of GDP on education, one of the highest ratios in the world.  New schools are being built and the demand for English-speaking teachers is high.

This means that fully-qualified and TEFL teachers can command good salaries.  TEFL teachers can expect USD2,000 a month, with flights and accommodation included.  PGCE or B.Ed teachers will earn more.  While this may not sound a lot, the typical cost of living is around 60% lower than the UK and the average monthly disposable salary is approximately USD360.  So, you’ll be comfortably off, able to enjoy yourself and even save for when you come home.

Destination of choice: So, look up some travel guides, visit some websites and look at some glorious photos of Uzbekistan to get a real feel for the place.  If you are independently-minded and are looking for somewhere exciting and rewarding to teach, Uzbekistan should be right up there on your list of destinations of choice.

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