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The spirit of persistence in womanhood

This International Women’s Month, WRQC celebrates the wonderful women on our team and the journeys they’ve embarked on. Here, Education Manager Laura Sauer shares her admiration for education and the beauty of stepping into the unknown to create a positive schooling experience for students around the world. Furthermore, Laura discusses the strength of womanhood which she got to observe while teaching overseas. 

“One cool thing about being a teacher is that you get to work with young women and be a role model for them,” Laura stated. 

Being a role model is one of the many experiences Laura got to be a part of as an international educator. 

“You get to show them what it looks like to stand up for yourself, for someone else, and encourage them to keep learning,” she continued.  

Laura shared that she always had a “positive schooling experience” while growing up, which in turn inspired her to become a teacher to “forward that same positivity to students.” 

A love of history and people has always dwelled in Laura’s heart, even at a young age. This made it easy for her to decide what she wanted to pursue by the time she got to college. 

“I love learning about history and other people, so social studies education is what I decided to study,” she shared.  

“When I was at university, I knew that I wanted to work with youth and be a teacher and go overseas one day,” she continued.  

Fortunately for Laura, she had her own female role models in her family who went overseas to teach. They made working overseas seem possible.  

“I am lucky to have people who modeled that for me,” she shared.  

An unplanned direction

While attending the University of Iowa, Laura had the chance to travel abroad for teaching trips in China, which inspired her to pursue a teaching career in China as soon as she graduated.  

“I wanted to get to China, I thought that God wanted me there,” she said. “At that time, Chinese law said you need two years of experience before you can teach there, so suddenly China wasn’t an option upon graduation,” she continued.  

Shortly after learning the requirements of teaching in China, Laura found an opportunity in Ghana.  

“I interviewed for the job, and three weeks later I moved to Ghana to teach at a Christian international school,” she shared. 

Laura spent three years in Ghana teaching various subjects such as social studies, English, and drama to middle and high school students from all around the world.  

“We had students from many African countries, Great Britian, China… everywhere,” she shared. She described her time in Ghana as an “eye-opening experience.” 

“It opened my eyes to people’s persistence. We got to do teacher training way out in a rural area. The school didn’t even have walls- just a thatched roof and some broken chalkboards. And yet, every day those teachers helped their students learn and get an education,” she stated. 

She further shared that her experience in Ghana made her “appreciate things more, such as having electricity and running water.” 

After her time in Ghana, Laura’s prayers of teaching in China were answered. She taught in China for six years, gaining even more eye-opening experiences through the people she met and the challenges she faced. 

In both Ghana and China, Laura never failed to count the blessings, believing that “God had everything planned out and saw all the steps.”  

“Ghana was a huge blessing to me. It was tough, but it was filled with joy and learning,” she shared.  

“In China, God was so faithful, especially during COVID. We were locked out our home in Wuhan, and I didn’t know if I’d ever get to go back or if I would see my students and friends again,” she continued. “But miraculously, China reopened and we were able to return.” 

Commonality in womanhood

In addition to having eye-opening experiences throughout her journey teaching overseas, Laura also witnessed the astonishing shared experiences of womanhood.  

“I think in Ghana, in China, and here [the United States], you just see women having to work hard- everywhere- no matter what they are doing. In every place, women have such perseverance and persistence,” Laura stated.  

“In the big city of Wuhan, you see tons of highly educated women working hard to balance careers and taking care of their family. It’s the same in Ghana, women working so hard to send their kids to school and care for their family,” Laura continued.  

Teaching abroad, Laura also had the opportunity to shift perspectives of younger women by encouraging independence, compassion, and self-advocacy- values shared by many of us in the United States.  

“As a teacher, you have the chance to guide them- helping [young women] learn to stick up for themselves and figure out what they want in life. Being from the U.S. where we have way more opportunities, in teaching you get to pass on that ‘be what you want and learn what you want’ perspective.” 

Laura takes pride in the opportunity to guide the many young women she met through teaching. 

“You get to teach them to be strong and kind, independent and compassionate, showing them that you can be independent and ask for help,” she continued.  

After nine years abroad, Laura made her way back to the Midwest and began serving the marginalized by taking up an educational role with WRQC.

“Working with refugees and helping them adjust to a new culture in the same way people helped me when I was overseas is truly a dream come true. This is exactly what I hoped to do upon returning to the U.S. and I feel so lucky to be part of this work.” 

Inspire inclusion

As WRQC and many around the world are celebrating International Women’s Month, Laura reflected on this year’s theme of ‘Inspire Inclusion’ and how that can be incorporated in our community.  

“I think the first and most important step is to ask questions. We need to listen to people who aren’t typically listened to, and then create a plan to include them,” Laura stated. 

Laura emphasized on the gradual progress of inclusion and learning that “things aren’t going to change immediately but can be accomplished over time.”  

“We need to have an attitude change. We need to ask ourselves, ‘Who am I missing? Who am I not reaching out to and making sure I give equal opportunity to?’” she continued.  

Laura and her journey as an international educator are living proof of the results of perseverance and persistence. She inspired hope in the lives of the people she met, just as they transformed her own life.  


Want to play a role in supporting refugee women? Consider volunteering for Family Literacy and Job Readiness classes.

Kler Soe is the Communications Specialist at World Relief Quad Cities. She joined the team after graduating from St. Ambrose University in May of 2023 with a degree in Public Relations and Strategic Communication. As a refugee herself, she hopes to bring awareness to World Relief’s work through stories. 

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