After graduating from Florida Gulf Coast University with a bachelor’s degree in theater and a minor in education, Sammie moved to Orlando for the Disney College Program. She worked in Merchandise at Storybook Circus in Magic Kingdom Park.
When her program ended, her years of experience teaching dance and theater helped her land jobs as a preschool teacher and as a resident assistant at a boarding school.
Her experiences helped her prepare for the adventure of a lifetime as a Disney English Foreign Trainer in Beijing!
The climate in Beijing is much cooler than what Sammie had experienced living in various parts of Florida. But like Elsa from “Frozen,” Sammie says, “The cold never bothered me anyway.”
Sammie believes that her background in education made it easier for her to “learn the ‘Disney Way’ of teaching compared to trainers who had never taught before. However, as long as you are eager to learn and love kids, having a background in education is not a requirement. Disney English does an amazing job with training and making sure you are comfortable in creating lesson plans and teaching from those plans.”
She liked that the Foreign Trainers created a family-like atmosphere at her Disney English center. She recalls, “My leader gave me work advice as well as advice about apartments, what restaurants I should go to and what sights I should see.” She said that the leaders understood that “we all had left our families and home so everyone in Disney English was very eager to help make it easier for anyone new.”
Like most Foreign Trainers, Sammie said she really missed her family and friends back home. “I had never been so far from my family that they couldn’t just drive a few hours to get to me. It was hard leaving them to go half way around the world. I remember calling my mom at the airport in tears because I already missed her. I also left behind my boyfriend of three years. We stayed together for the 13 months I was in China, and he even came to visit me for six weeks. His visit really helped me get through being homesick. He knew that Disney English was something I always wanted to do, and his support meant everything to me.”
During her 13 months in China, Sammie did a great job keeping her family and friends apprised of the fun she was having by posting to her Instagram account. She says, “I still get lots of messages asking about Disney English and how I can help others who have accepted the position. I have mentored a few through interviews and have given advice on how to live in China. I love that people can easily contact me, and I hope to ease a lot of people’s worries about the role.”
When Sammie’s role ended, she returned to Orlando, Florida. Even though she was happy to be home, she still misses her “Disney English family.” She remembers, “We all became so close. I met one of my best friends, Angel, at a time when I felt lonely. If it weren’t for her, I probably would not have finished. The friendships you make in China will always be with you – even when you return home.”
Sammie now works as a Trainer in Merchandise at Disney Springs, and hopes to get involved with the YES Program next season. “I want to continue with my passion for teaching, children and sharing my love for Disney.”