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Teaching Overseas

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Navy Undergraduate Teaching Program Offers Unparalled Travel Opportunities

By Ron Hamm

Teaching in the Navy
You can get a job teaching college level courses aboard a Navy ship and see the world!

The admonition to “Join the Navy and see the world” has been heeded by a host of part-time civilian instructors, including me, who teach college courses aboard ship while visiting exotic ports wherever ships of the U.S. fleets call. Of course, the instructors don’t actually join the Navy. They just enjoy the travel.

Working for the Programs Afloat College Education (PACE) program, I’ve marveled at the wonders of ancient Rome and Pompeii, strolled through the medieval walled city of Rhodes, gaped at Dubai’s gold and silk souks, been caught up by the spell of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and spotted kangaroos in Australia’s Outback while chatting up the long-distance Aussie bus drivers. My next departure is for Baltic ports in Germany and Poland.

All official travel and related expenses are covered, including food, medical care, etc., while aboard ship. The flight home is also paid, so spending a couple of weeks touring Spain after disembarking at Rota, for instance, is no problem

The PACE program, launched in the mid 1970s, offers lower-level undergraduate university courses to its sailors at sea. It’s a clever recruitment-retention program and a win/win idea for everyone. The sailors earn college credits, and the Navy gets a better-educated sailor.

It’s also win/win for the instructors. The Navy flies us to wherever the ship is when the assignment begins. I’ve boarded in Bahrain, Naples, and Antalya and disembarked in Crete, Rota, and Pearl Harbor with ample time for looking around before work begins. Instructors offer 48 hours of classroom instruction in eight weeks. I typically teach four or five classes of Freshman Comp and similar courses, six to seven hours a day, six days a week. And Sunday make-up classes are not uncommon. But when the ship is in port I’m on vacation, free to do whatever I like for four or five days. The ship frequently offers opportunities to interact with locals through community projects. Instructors have the equivalent rank of lieutenant commander, are berthed in “Officer’s Country,” and eat in the officers’ wardroom where the food is both good and plentiful. Women are welcome, and an increasing number of PACE instructors are female.

Instructors must have at least a master’s degree and 18 graduate level hours in their teaching field, pass a rigorous physical, be able to tolerate cramped, noisy quarters and occasional rough seas, and not be “girth challenged” in order to wriggle through sometimes tight scuttles and hatches.

Age is no hindrance (I’m 66) as long as you have a spirit of adventure. PACE is actively recruiting in English, math, history (the top three needs currently), political science, sociology, psychology, and speech.

For more information see

Ron Hamm, a retired university administrator, writes from Silver City, NM.

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