Emily Barbuto ’00

As a first grade teacher at an international school in Yangon, Myanmar, Emily Barbuto ’00 says she teaches the same way she would anywhere else.  But there are plenty of other perks, such as money and opportunities for travel that have inspired her to write three novels.

"Education professors Gayle Luck and Kerry Bostwick were both really supportive when I decided to go to the overseas placement fair." -- Emily Barbuto

“Culture shock amuses me and gives me stuff to write about,” says Barbuto, who minored in anthropology. “Also, living in different countries means I get to see a lot more and learn more than if I was just visiting as a tourist for a week.”

Barbuto previously taught in South Korea, Egypt, Abu Dhabi, and Israel.  And she has visited many other places since Cornell, including Kenya, Oman, Sri Lanka, and Cambodia.

Her novels explore the humor of travel and intercultural relations, and two have been published: Instigating Profligacy: Aviva and Aisha’s Adventures in the World, and Sweet and Sour July. She says she gets many of her story ideas from conversations overheard in the teachers’ lounge — a practice she learned during student teaching.

Her Cornell activities included martial arts, belly dancing, and juggling, and she says that the latter has proven invaluable to her teaching.

“Juggling is a good classroom management tool,” she says. “As soon as I start juggling, my second graders’ jaws drop — it seems to surprise them every time, and they are ready to listen.”