My name is Valerijus Gagas, and I am from Kaunas, the second-largest city in Lithuania with a population of nearly 300,000 people. Before I came to China, I worked as a head of import/export division at JSV Energetikos Remontas and later on as an international sales representative at Helisota Ltd. The latter company dealt with overhauls/repairs, spare part procurement and technical assistance for Mi-8/Mi-17 series helicopters, so, yes, I was in the helicopter business before I became a teacher.
It was actually my job at Helisota Ltd. that made me try something entirely different. I was so busy at that time that I was never home. I also had a part-time job. I was part of the English language development program in my hometown which placed me at Kaunas University of Technology where I had taught for a year before I decided to make a radical change in my life. I quit both of my jobs and came to China! I was invited to come to China by my childhood friend who was a traditional Chinese philosophy student at Nanjing University. "If you want to change your life, come to China" he said. And so I did. I arrived in Nanjing in May, 2002, thinking that I would stay here for a month or so but now it has been 13 years and counting.
I worked as a freelance teacher for a year before I was hired by JESIE. I knew very well that I had to work twice as hard to be an English teacher simply because I was not born in the 'right' country, so I was the very first teacher at JESIE with a TESOL certification. I never complained, I never said "no" to anyone, I just did my job to the best of my abilities knowing that actions always speak louder than words. Even though I have been working as an academic supervisor for 6 years, I am still teaching and I hope that teaching will always be a part of what I do, because it is what I am. Fyodor Dostoyevsky once said, "The soul is healed by being with children". I cannot agree more. When I am in class full of kids, I believe I transform into a better person. The connection I have with my students is phenomenal. I would not trade this feeling for anything else in the world.
Quick facts: I have two masters degrees, one in Management, one in Literature and Creative Writing. I am also a certified TESOL instructor who has been developing and implementing teacher training workshops and courses for quite a few years. I am interested in languages (I can speak four of them), poetry (I published a book in 2006) and movies (I can never get enough of them).
In my free time, I travel, read books, play badminton and spend a lot of time with my friends talking about this 'unbearable lightness of being' that we call life. What else is out there, after all?