College of Education
June Seabaugh is someone who proves that a Southeast education, dedication and a love of what you do can literally take you anywhere in the world.
June has spent the last two years teaching missionary children, orphans and native Cambodians at the Logos International School in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. She taught middle school English classes, AP English and Literature classes and a Writing for Literacy class to help struggling ESL students improve their writing skills. Prior to her time in Cambodia, June also went on mission trips to South Africa and Swaziland.
“Since Cambodia is one of the poorest nations of the world, my experiences were incredibly educational for me. Cambodia is ranked among the nations with the least potable water, it still has many landmines and landmine victims, the teachers generally don't even have a high school education and the child sex slave industry flourishes. Because the Khmer Rouge destroyed almost all the educated members of society in the 1970's, the country is dependent on other countries for medical care and trained teachers,” she says.
“Cambodia is poor beyond what most Americans can imagine. I've watched as a group of 30 young dental students worked in the dirt under a tent in 100-degree heat as they pulled teeth and filled cavities on people who were sitting on plastic chairs getting their dental work done without any painkillers. Other students held flashlights to shine into the patients' mouths, while another student boiled instruments in a pot over a fire. And no one complained!” she says.
June graduated from Southeast Missouri State University in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree with majors in English and sociology and teacher certification in English. 10 years later she completed her master’s degree in Education.
“I used all of my SEMO education to teach secondary English classes in Cape Girardeau and Scott City for 29 years,” she says.
Teaching in Cambodia was obviously a very unique experience for June.
“I probably experienced some culture shock, especially since I was living in a city of one-and-a-half million, and I'd lived most of my life around Cape Girardeau.
I rode in tuk tuks (a three-wheeled motorized cart), lived without a TV, rode my bicycle on mud streets with foot-deep potholes during the monsoon season, watched a foot-long rat walk through my living room and ate rice, rice and more rice. Mostly, though, I loved my students and gained a great respect for the people who worked with me and made huge sacrifices to help the people of Cambodia. My life has been enriched by my friends in Asia - students, fellow teachers, my Bible class students, a Cambodian housemate, a Korean-American missionary who lived with us and many others,” says June.
Through this experience, June was able to meet children and other adults from a wide variety of backgrounds.
“Since one-third of my students were missionary kids, we had 31 different nationalities represented at our school, and many of them had lived in a number of countries before coming to Cambodia. Besides these kids, I also worked a lot with the orphans who lived in the orphanage connected to our school. They had their unique stories of pain, abuse, neglect, abandonment, loss and survival, and they brought their needs, challenges and love with them,” she says.
However, the toughest part of moving to Cambodia was leaving her sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren.
“Since my parents are deceased and my husband passed away six years ago, I don't have a lot of family, but I'm really close to the ones I have. So I was thrilled this past year when I could stop walking to a phone shop to call home each week because I'd bought a laptop and I could Skype my family!” says June.
Despite all her worldwide travels, June still remembers the role Southeast played in her teaching instruction.
“My education at Southeast has opened many interesting doors for me. My undergrad degree in English and my master’s degree, my teaching experience and God have given me the opportunity to teach in a country halfway around the world. So I’m thankful,” she says.
Although her time in Cambodia is over, June is certainly not finished doing missionary teaching work. After spending a month with her family in St. Louis, she will be leaving for Argentina, where she is excited to be spending two years teaching at Buenos Aires International Christian Academy.
“I am a very blessed lady, and I am living a wonderfully interesting life that is full of adventure, blessings and great rewards. God has truly blessed me, and I am thankful.”