Know someone struggling with English as a second Language? – Check out ESLInSight

Do you or anyone you know need help in resume building, interviewing and their general career search?

If so, you’ll want to check this out! – Want to skip the post – check out this video.

The typical question anyone in university is used to being asked is, “What are you going to do after school?” Answering this question  is not so easy. For me the answer comes in a roundabout way; it’s kind of like this image.


This image isn’t new but, it holds true. Determining what “success” looks like to you is really about finding your way along the meandering path.

In my previous blogs, I’ve talked about my travels and the people I have met. I met a variety of older people and asked them questions about their lives; including careers. Their responses solidified that whatever I end up doing I need to be happy doing it; regardless of renumeration.

Now the question becomes, what job/career will make me happy?

This question leads me to talk about ESLInSight which is a company founded by Leah Penelope Watt; a woman I met in Bukit Lawang, Indonesia.

ESLInSight is an editing and online teaching company that specializes in resume building and interview preparation for native and nonnative English speakers. Its unique editing services combine editing with teaching so that clients not only receive a strong, professionally edited document but they also learn the skills necessary to produce a similar quality document in the future. The company provides editing services for a wide range of document types and also offers one-to-one general and business ESL and exam preparation courses via Skype.

I ended up in Bukit Lawang after a boat ride, food poisoning, an expired visa, a Thai holiday and heading to Indonesia with some strangers; none of which was planned.


This picture was taken the night after the unforgettably unique and priceless experience of trekking for 3 days through the Indonesian jungle. It was full of danger, surprises, and good times. Leah is on the far right just next to one of our guides.

I asked her some questions as I wanted to learn more about her and how she came about starting ESLInSight. Her responses confirm what I talk about above; she embodies the concept that there isn’t just one path to success.

  1. Who are you? What is your experience/qualifications?

I have always been an avid writer and reader, traveler, and lover of language. My first editing role was as Arts and Entertainment Editor for a local college newspaper when I was just 16 years old. Throughout my academic and professional careers, I have worked as an editor and curriculum developer in various capacities. I have worked in academia for 9 years and as an English as a Second Language Instructor for much of that time. I lived in Asia for 5 years, where I taught a variety of English courses to students of all ages at a reputable university in Busan, South Korea. Additionally, among other jobs and roles, I conducted Business English seminars for Korean civil service workers, taught business English courses to SK Group executives, and worked alongside the British Council to design and conduct teacher’s training courses. Since returning to the USA, I have worked with internationally-renowned TOEFL and USMLE preparation companies and have continued to conduct business and general English courses via Skype.

2. How do you work within a global market and manage clients from any/all languages, backgrounds, ethnicities, etc.

I have traveled in more than 30 countries and worked with students from nearly twice as many so I have a lot of experience interacting and working with people of different cultures, backgrounds, and ethnicity. In fact, one of the most exciting aspects of my job is inadvertently learning about different cultures through my interactions with students.

For my Skype courses, I offer a free, introductory course; I meet with a prospective student to assess his English level and discuss his interests and goals for the class, then tailor the course to meet his needs. With my background in curriculum development and given the wide range of interests of my students, I often write individual lesson plans, although I use a variety of materials and resources in my courses. Some of my students are very specific about what they want to learn, whereas others prefer a more organic, conversational approach to language learning. With lower level learners, in particular, I strive to provide curriculum that challenges and improves all aspects of skill development, including reading, writing, listening, speaking, and grammar.

Social media and word of mouth have been largely responsible for the success of ESLInSight in recruiting new clients and students.

3. What motivated you to start the company?

I’ve noticed throughout my teaching career that most students’ goals are much loftier than what they initially seek help to achieve. A student might register for general English courses to improve her language ability but with the end goal of studying abroad or working for an international company. Having a strong command of English is just one step in a process that often includes preparing strong, tailored resumes and cover letters, interviewing with multiple institutions, writing university application essays, taking an English proficiency and/or college entrance exam, etc. The goal of ESLInSight, motivated in large part by my passions for and knowledge of business and education, is to assist nonnative English speakers through each phase of this process to achieve their longterm professional or educational goals.

4. How has your previous experiences amalgamated into this business? And did you ever anticipate this shift?

ESLInSight is a culmination of years of education and experience in business, ESL, education, editing, and curriculum development. I have always had a keen, innate business sense and knew that I would start a business of some sort. After spending much of my professional career working in the ESL field, it seemed like a natural progression to start a company that puts my skills, experience, and insight to use to serve a larger community of English learners and professionals.

5. From those experiences can you tell me about a “success” story?

I prefer to let the students do the talking:

“When I started to look for a new job I was confused with writing a resume in English. I had been working a lot on it and thought that I had done it well. Fortunately I asked Leah to look over my resume and correct it. Lucky me… I hadn’t sent that text to any employer at that time. Leah helped me to correct my awkward sentences which sounded strange in English and pointed out the mistakes that I made. Soon my resume looked like it has to look. Thanks to Leah.” -Sergey, Moscow, Russia

“Leah’s help was invaluable in helping me to prepare for my assessment center. During our sessions, we had mock interviews, during which she gave advice about how to look my best to interviewers. Thanks to her, I was ready for anything in my interview, and I will continue to be ready for any future interviews that come.” -Vivek, Glen Cove, NY, US.

6. Finally, do you want to say anything to the readers about the importance of your work?

Many people I’ve encountered over the years share the limited perspective that all one needs to live and work abroad is a decent command of English or a high TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score. The process of actually securing employment in America and other English-speaking countries or companies is actually much more involved and can also be quite daunting so it is important to start early and seek support each step of the way.

Through individualized language, interview, and exam preparation courses and professional document editing, ESLInSight teaches the skills that are necessary to achieve these goals, while providing insightful feedback and excellent support along the way. This is more important and relevant now than ever before because, in a market saturated by language instruction, ESLInsight considers the individual as a whole: who they are, what they need, and where they are going. Unlike other companies and language schools, ESLInSight strives to provide a broadened perspective, not only on language foundation, but how to excel beyond the competition and reach the next stage in life and beyond.

A list of ESLInSight’s services:

-Professional Document Editing: Résumés, Cover Letters, University Admissions Essays, & More

-Interview Preparation: Professional & University Admissions Interviews

-Business English Courses

-General English Courses

-Exam Preparation: TOEFL, IELTS, USMLE, & More

I truly enjoyed hearing more about Leah and ESLInSight. I still don’t know what I want to do, but the journey appears much less daunting.

But, the bigger point of this post is too spread the word. For those familiar with the struggle of finding a career and doing so in another language, ESLInSight. can help with the related challenges.

If this sounds like anything you or someone you know needs do not hesitate to check out her website, twitteryoutubelinkedin, or e-mail at


My INDEV Life – Goodbye : Part 5


The overriding themes of my recent posts have been of uncertainty, anxiety and the unknown. But, with about 1 month left to go before my placement, it is definitely not all I’m feeling.

Most of all I am EXTREMELY excited. However, I am not just excited for myself. I am ecstatic that my fellow INDEVOURS will be heading off on their placements as well. And not to be forgotten, the minority of a minority group that are writing their thesis.

It has been my privilege to get to know this small group better over the last 3ish years, and especially this semester. And, I’m looking forward to getting to know them even better over the month where our stress levels are relatively reduced. On top of that, I can’t wait to hear about their experiences, their countries, organisations etc. and how it has shaped them.

It has not been the easiest semester. We have been challenged to challenge ourselves and although we may falter, I think we have all succeed in one respect or another.

I know everyone in this little group will have an amazing/priceless unique experience and I wish them the best of luck. And, I think this can sum up the emotions that are currently being shared by everyone.

Thanks again, everyone and this marks the end of my 5 part series about my life in International Development.


My INDEV Life – Now Accepting Beard Applications! : Part 4

SOOOOO. For anyone reading this, who does not already know…I am gay. And anyone who have not read my previous posts, I am going to Botswana for 8 months. So naturally I am seeking a beard to fend off all the marriage/courting proposals I receive while I’m away.

Criteria for an ideal candidate:

  • Does not have a significant other
  • Can be Facebook official (like o.m.g)
  • Rich (cause why not)
  • Funny-ish,
  • Good at writing love letters
  • Open to fake marriage
  • Love me (and dogs)

Submit your application to my Facebook page, in the comment section below, or other (airmal, snailmail, e-mail, femail)

For some reason, that I haven’t totally figured out yet, I have chosen to shy away from gay topics. I have written about them before, but I have not wanted to rely on them because it almost felt like a crutch. But, in part it was because that I did not want my sexuality to define me.

But, my sexuality is being brought to a head. When I go to Botswana for 8 months. I will be, for all intents and purposed back in the closest. It is kind of odd how full circle things can be. My trip though Asia (and Europe) was a time were I really did some soul searching. It was while on my trip that I came to turns with being gay.

Now this is not a cry me a river story. I do not think overall I will change very much while on placement. But, it is something that I will just have to work with as it goes. Our Western perception of gay men is predominately related to being flamboyant/feminine, but to people in Botswana I may just be eccentric or weird.

I have battled with the idea of pretending or lying about being straight. I think of myself as a strong and opinionated person. So in the spirit of activism part of me thinks that I should be open and positive about it. But, also going in guns a blazing will not help affect change in a positive way. So maybe it is something I will have to re-evaluate.

Also, as a parting gift, here is a picture my brother felt like sending me soon after I came out.

Speaking of parting gifts, check out my farewell post!


My INDEV Life – Where is my place? : Part 3

One prevailing theme that haunts this thing we call “development” is how do we “do” it. Ultimately, I have wonder what the hell do I offer? How can I do this properly?

In my previous post I talked about how to engage in development without replicating the colonial legacy where I, as a Westerner, am imparting my knowledge and expertise on the lowly savages.

So, I am slightly afraid of being paralyzed with fear and  then doing anything at all. I’m not sure how I will navigate the entire 8 months with the crippling worry/fear that what I am doing is inherently unethical. But, not so much too the point where I do nothing at all. It is walking the fine line between helping or contributing and imposing.

Two main thoughts come to my head. These are concepts that resonate through the teaching of my professors for my two of my main courses this spring.  For my Theory and Practice of Marketing and Communication for Development course I and my other INDEVOURS planned a Gala.

In the entirety of planning, coupled with a variety of placement fiasco’s people felt a little overwhelmed. It seems so simple, but the concept of just worrying about what is within your control, and adapting yourself and your work to the situation you find yourself within is invaluable.

In The Practice of Everyday-Life we were kept on our critical thinking toes. We were presented with numerous cultural histories/ethnographies that are highly complex and multifaceted. In this course we were taught how to deal with this sheer bewilderment and sense of helplessness. So it is though being present, mindful, educated, aware, humble, open, diligent and resourceful that we can work within the conundrum.

Realistically as much as these courses were teaching us hard skills for our placement. They were also more importantly teaching us how to deal with life. Cause in the end that’s all it comes down to.

So when it comes to my placement, I will work with what is in my control and constantly work to educate and better myself to offer the most I can.

Check our part 4 – a more personal aspect to my orientation on placement.

My INDEV Life – Replicating the Colonial Legacy: Part 2


So, in my last post I talked about capacity building tourism. Now, I’m going to talk about some of my personal experience with that.

When I traveled through Asia I encountered a couple, albeit limited tourist like option that were highlighted as been “more ethical”.

One business that really caught my attention was that the restaurants are operated predominantly by homeless or disadvantage young people. My experience at a couple restaurants was nothing short of extraordinary. The food delicious and the service was impeccable.

One of such restaurants I visited was called Streets International based out of Hoi An, Vietnam. Take a look at this video:

It does a great job of outlining how the restaurant give young disadvantaged people an opportunity for a career, stability, etc.

There is a problem that I immediately notice, and it makes me cringe. It is that the founder, Neal Bermas, is perpetuating exactly the colonial thinking that has formed what we call development today.

It is the US vs. THEM mentality.  When he responds to the query of why he started the company, he responds with “why not”. Which seems simple enough, right?

Well, then he goes on, and I’m going to paraphrase, he said that WE (western society) have an obligation to take all our knowledge, skills, intelligence and impart them to the disadvantage OTHERS (developing societies) because they can’t do it themselves.

This line is a very fuzzy one to trot as it is one of the biggest questions in development. How do we position ourselves, that I position myself, in a manner that I am not this missionary or foreign aid to help the incompetent locals.

A big question for me is, is Streets International actually serving the people it says it is. Or, is it just another machine to take advantage of people and use them to an extent, as resources.

So, this begs the questions and leads into my post tomorrow about WHAT DO I HAVE TO OFFER ON MY PLACEMENT?!

My INDEV Life – My Placement : Part 1


Well hello everyone!

This is the first part of a five part series about my INDEV placement to give you a little more insight into my life.

As some of you may or may not know I will be heading to Maun, Botswana this September. So, this is an 8 month un-paid internship that marks the end of my undergraduate degree. It right above South Africa. It has been long awaited but at this point it looks like I will be headed to work with NCONGO. This is an NGO that focuses on capacity building.

More specifically I want to work with one of their partners Travel For Impact. This really excites me. They focus on sustainable and ethical impact. It is a perfect mix of my development studies with my love for travel.

I kind of cover it in my bio, but I got into this program mostly as a result of my travel. I’m excited by the opportunity to be a part of giving people an ethical option while traveling. Something I have wondered a lot about is, when I traveled, did I do it ethically or sustainably?

The main answer I come to is…probably not.

The main reason is that over a 6 month trip in Asia I invariably exploited numerous people, resources and 1000 other things under the sun. Also, I have just learned a lot over my studies.

But mostly because other option were rarely presented to us. Although, there were a couple great instances of truly innovative ways of building up the communities that we visited. At least on the surface.

I will be talking tomorrow in my next blog. My personal experience with sustainable and capacity building tourism!

Update: Check out the following blog here

A Little Bit of Nostalgia

When you think of your childhood, what commercial or advertisements pops into your head?

For me. I have no idea why. What pops into my head is this video

The funny thing for me is that I have hardly ever had mini wheats in my entire life. Maybe once of twice. But, whenever this commercial came on the TV everyone in my family either knew the words or was singing along.

The song in the commercial is VERY simple, memorable, geared towards kid.  The song is fun, silly, simple and completely non-nonsensical. Just like the commercial.

This ad is selling a sense of fun and whimsicality around something that is as bland as miniature wheat squares with some frosting.

So, I have to wonder. How effective was this ad and what does this say about marketing in general?

The ad succeeded in having me remember some 10 odd years later. But, it did not succeed in actually having me purchase mini-wheats ever. I liked the idea of them. It that enough?

I would say of the thousands of thousand of ads I have seen in my life (I used to watch a LOT of TV) the fact that I still remember it is pretty substantial. And, I suppose when I think of “mini wheats” I think positively of them, but is that what they wanted to achieve? Likely not, but not too far off.

So, what commercial brings you back memories of your childhood? Why do you remember it?