Michael McDougle is teaching writing in the PRIME program and English Department at LCC International University. His life-long dream was to be an international missionary. Realizing that the initial missionary idea was different than what he imagined, he and his family moved to China to teach English. After spending years teaching in China, a chance meeting proved to be an opportunity and brought him all the way to Lithuania.
What is it like to be an international missionary? What are your goals and main focus?
Originally my family went to Russia and then to Ukraine as missionaries. Our goal was to learn the language, get to know the culture and then to establish a local church.
We tried to reach out to people and find ways to not only teach people about Jesus, but also to try and find ways to serve people and serve in the culture. I became a missionary, but I realized that it did not fit me the way I expected. The people who were supporting and sending us to Ukraine to minister had different expectations of how missions looked than we did. I wanted to help everybody grow closer to Jesus, regardless of where they were in their faith journey. The community we served in, wanted something different and we had to think of ways to merge both needs together.
How did the idea of teaching and moving to China begin?
About twenty years ago I heard that people could go to China and teach. The only requirements to teach at a university were a Bachelor's degree and being a native English speaker. For a long time, it interested me to teach in China, but I always longed for Russia. When we returned from Ukraine to the United States, we did not have future career commitments so we took some time to decide on the possibility of teaching in China. Not too long after, we contacted an organization that helped place Christian teachers in different universities in China. We went through the training and felt we were ready for our new teaching placement and for life in China.
When you moved to China, did you feel cultural shock? What were the biggest challenges while you were there?
I think everywhere you go you have cultural shock. When we moved to China, we really did not know what to expect. We ended up living there for six years and it was amazing... very modern and very clean. The city where we lived, Hangzhou, has 10 million people. The neighboring city of Shanghai, has close to 30 million people. People are everywhere and that was slightly shocking. The biggest challenge living in China was mostly for our children. We homeschool our children, so they have limited peer interactions and I believe they felt lonely. It is hard to maintain friendships when you are traveling and moving often.
How does travel and moving seem to impact your family?
A lot of people ask what impact traveling has on our family, but to us it is not that bad. When it comes to making the decisions about moving, it can be stressful, so we try to keep a balanced attitude.
How did you become a part of the LCC community?
We were in China for five years and then went back to America for one year for education purposes, and that was when I met Marlene and Robin at a conference for Teaching English. When I first heard about LCC it sounded great, but it was not the right time for us. We ended up returning to China for one last year. At that time, we realized that China was not working for our children anymore, so we decided to find somewhere our children could enjoy. We asked our children where they wanted to live. We want these years with our children still at home to be happy and healthy years together. Our kids actually chose LCC because of the international aspect of it. I was checking LCC online for job openings and there was a writing position available, so I contacted LCC and after some time it seemed like everything finally fell into place and we became a part of LCC.
What are your responsibilities at LCC?
I teach writing in the PRIME program and English Department. Next quarter, I will also be teaching one public speaking class with the Communication Department.
What is your favorite part about teaching students?
I love how most students engage during the lesson and interact within it. Most seem very focused, listen, and participate. It makes the classroom atmosphere a lot more enjoyable for all when there is free interaction between teacher and students. I like that here the students are from different places, and they are respectful and fun at the same time.
How would you describe yourself to other people? What kind of person are you?
I am extremely introverted and shy. People do not really believe it anymore but for my whole life, until just five or six years ago, my number one fear in life was speaking in public. Now I am a teacher and I do it every day. As for the kind of person I am, I want people to see that I try the best that I can to follow Jesus. I am not as interested in religious life in terms of tradition, but instead I personally am trying to follow in the steps of Jesus. I am still learning what that looks like each day.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
I like to play badminton with my children. It is a hobby we picked up while we were in Thailand. We were in the middle of this huge city with no grass, just concrete and we wanted to do something active, so we started playing badminton. I also like photography; walking around and taking pictures. We also enjoy exploring, finding new things, and trying new foods.
What is your vision for the future? Do you have any future plans?
Personally, I would love to be able to stay here for many years. I feel that LCC is the place where I can do what I am good at - teaching. I am passionate about people and countries coming together. When our children are ready to go to the university themselves, if they want to go to America, then we may have to make a decision if we should go with them to help adjust to life in America. It is always in God's hands but we hope and pray that we can stay here for a while.
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