“Take advantage of opportunities. One small opportunity can be life-changing.”—Jamie Halula. Jamie and Carey Halula are an alumni couple whose story began with Concordia University Wisconsin (CUW), and has taken them thousands of miles away to Concordia International School in Shanghai, China.
This life-changing journey began more than 15 years ago when Jamie completed her student teaching at Concordia International School. “It touched my heart for (serving in China). I was ready to jump right back in,” she said. Originally from Michigan and a graduate of Valley Lutheran High School, Jamie studied elementary education and graduated in 2003. As she was determining her plans for after graduation, she received an invitation to return. “They called and asked me to come back. And I brought my new spouse with me,” she said with a smile.
Her new spouse, Carey, called the Mequon area home even before he entered college. The first schools he applied to were part of the University of Wisconsin system. Eventually he applied to Concordia upon a recommendation from then Concordia men’s soccer coach, Dan Harris. Along with playing sports and eventually coaching at Concordia, Carey fondly remembers the people who made him who he is today. “Dr. Saleska, Dr. J [Dr. Jurgenson, Sr.], Dr. Cario and Dr. Hilgendorf were all instrumental in getting me where I am in life. They challenged me to rise to the occasion.”
After graduating from CUW in 1999, Carey coached women’s soccer and began to teach at Lumen Christi in Mequon. “Then I came along and asked him to move to China,” Jamie explained.
Established by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in 1998, Concordia International School-Shanghai teaches students in preschool through grade 12. Students are all foreign passport holders, creating a diverse student population. As Carey puts it: “We’re teaching a global demographic of third-culture kids, who impact the world whether they return to their home countries or move to other areas of the world.”
“The experience of teaching at Concordia International School Shanghai has contributed maturity in our faith walk in wearing love and showing the Gospel through our actions, whether it is teaching traditional subjects or China History and local culture,” Jamie said. “I am constantly reminded of how blessed we are to serve in a diverse community of people, culture, religion, traditions, etc. Because I have seen God work in the hearts of people, I am aware we are a part of His plan here.”
They also have the chance to show their community. Sometimes it’s “just loving and serving until they ask us why and modeling God’s love in what we do.”
Jamie currently teaches 4th grade, and has taught at several other levels in the past. She has also been involved in leading co-curricular activities and services to the local community. Carey teaches middle school and has taught several subjects including health, physical education, and science, as well as coaching varsity soccer in the high school. Both rave about their students: “We feel blessed and fortunate to work with students who want to learn.”
Jamie added: “Concordia International School-Shanghai is a dynamic place to work. Working alongside driven, compassionate educators, who strive for best practice, results in engaging professional development. Educating students, in partnership with parents, is meaningful and fulfilling. When challenges arise, the community comes together to support one another. We have called Shanghai home for 14 years because we, like others around us, are invested in Concordia International School and its community.”
CUW continues to be part of their story as well. “I’m so proud of what God has done on this campus,” Carey said. “I wouldn’t be where I am if not for the Concordia experience.” Jamie adds: “When I think of CUW now, I think of home.” Each summer they come back to the United States to visit family in Michigan and Wisconsin, and enjoy being on campus and attending a Chinooks game.
The learning hasn’t stopped, either. Jamie is finishing her masters in family life education, and Carey received his master’s in education technology in 2011, both through Concordia. They are currently raising three children—“maybe future Falcons,” as Jamie put it—and are actively involved in the fostering and fundraising initiatives within a local organization that provides life-saving surgeries to orphans.
“Every step is answering a small call that God places on our hearts. Tiny moments of connection can be God leading us to a bigger picture and to answering his call, while being mindful to be present where He has placed each of us here and now.”
The alumni couple also has wisdom for current Concordia students and alumni. “Don’t limit yourself. Take opportunities as they come,” said Carey.
Jamie adds: “Every step is answering a small call that God places on our hearts. Tiny moments of connection can be God leading us to a bigger picture and to answering his call, while being mindful to be present where He has placed each of us here and now.”
Concordia International School-Shanghai is currently hiring teachers with two or more years of experience. Information on these opportunities is available at careers.concordiashanghai.org. You can also contact email@example.com.
–Alumnus Josiah Buss (’15) wrote this story.
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