Part 8: A Retrospective Overseas Job Description
Brent, you asked me to look back about 20 years and write my job description for when Bruce and I and our four small sons lived overseas for 7 years. He asked if I had a job description—I don’t think anyone did back then for this type of job.
Brent, you should understand that I am not making a legal recommendation that anyone have this job description, and most job descriptions would be much shorter. This is only my job description—what I actually did. I just read it to my husband, and he said, “That sounds like fun; I want to go back.”
Glorifying God among those who do not know Jesus Christ.
Build the Kingdom on multiple levels from family to church to broader community in a relatively primitive multicultural setting.
Essential functions of the job:
- Teach university English classes;
- Teach preschool and elementary school;
- Train inexperienced household help;
- Run a house in a primitive tropical setting;
- Learn a national and tribal language;
- Assist in church work;
- Show hospitality to people from multiple people groups;
- Assist in development work;
- Provide nutritional and tasty food for a family, where most of it has to be made from scratch (as in making bread, noodles, and tortillas);
- Care for three small children;
- Give birth to a baby in a primitive medical setting and provide for adequate newborn medical care;
- Sew or cause to be sewn clothes and curtains for the family;
- Identify markets and shops to buy or make needed items;
- Any other task required to be done from time to time.
14-16 hours a day and always on call.
- Ability to work continuously in tropical heat and resist tropical diseases;
- Bear a baby without medical complications;
- Design and implement adequate exercise in an environment where walking on the street is not practicable;
- Drive a large manual Landrover with no power steering (up to 9 months pregnant);
- Eat a variety of food without becoming ill.
The job takes place in a mid-sized but fairly primitive Asian city on the equator and near the ocean. Temperature varies little throughout the year, but is consistently hot and muggy. Rainfall is about 36 inches a year. Tropical diseases, including cholera, typhoid, dengue fever, and tuberculosis, are endemic.
- The work environment is not organized; the worker must organize it.
- The worker must be able to identify tasks, design an approach, and implement the tasks in a self-directed way. There will be no supervision and no feedback.
Training and qualifications:
- Capable of learning languages rapidly;
- Qualified to teach English and ESL at university level;
- Qualified to design curriculum;
- Qualified to teach preschool and early elementary;
- Skilled in training uneducated workers;
- Psychological knowledge to diagnose and treat disabilities and identify emotional conditions;
- Able to diagnose and treat medical conditions with no formal training; must be able to tolerate the sight of blood;
- Management skills to run a household and school of small children and workers;
- Theological training for church work;
- Cross-cultural skills;
- Emotional ability to stay calm in crisis; must be able to deal with overwhelming situations with no visible emotional reaction;
- Sufficient inner resources to exist with few friendships and little communication back to the U.S. or with colleagues in other parts of the country;
- Practical skills in cooking, sewing, and decorating;
- Driving skills to drive under dangerous conditions and on inadequate roads.
Accommodations that could reasonably be made:
It is possible that for some physical disabilities, additional household help could be hired. Many disabilities could not be accommodated. Wheelchairs would not work—no sidewalks. You couldn’t learn the language with a hearing disability. The environment would severely exacerbate any emotional disabilities. Any physical weakness would lead to severe illness and possibly death.
Disclaimer: not official legal or psychological advice or opinion
Because of the generality of the information on this site, it may not apply to a given place, time, or set of facts. It is not intended to be legal advice, and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations