Building a Business

June 17, 2010

This evening I will be participating in a panel on entrepreneurship.  In preparation for this event I took a wonderful journey – I went back through the history of School Choice International. Fortunately I have kept a notebook of our original activities: a list of market research questions with answers scribbled on loose leaf pages.  A questionnaire about the child, a list of questions to ask at school visits, and our first brochure.  Perhaps most striking was our first database: a Xerox copy of a list of relevant schools and their contact details.

From this humble start School Choice International has become a company with 17 employees and 90 consultants in 50 key expatriate locations worldwide. 

It just shows the power of a dream.

Thanks to all who have been a part of our success.

Elizabeth Perelstein


Local Schools in Thailand: A Personal Account

February 5, 2010

By Liz Perelstein, president of School Choice International

“I was delighted to see caring teachers,

motivated and happy students.”





In early January I had the extraordinary opportunity to take a cycling trip in Northern Thailand and Laos. Although I travel whenever I can, this experience was unforgettable for me. We rode alongside people working in rice paddies, tackled dirt roads (with only one set of broken ribs) that lead to remote villages consisting of a handful of shacks, and stopped our bikes at factories where manufacturing took place laboriously, by hand.

The poverty we encountered among hill tribes in both Thailand and Laos was eye opening. We observed people who still live without electricity, cook over an open fire and brush their teeth and wash their hair in the Mekong River. Children as young as three years old knew enough English to beg for money, reminiscent of Fagin’s gang in Oliver.


Girls dancing at a local school

For those of you who read Anne Fadiman’s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, we visited Hmong villages and found the Hmong tribe to be extremely entrepreneurial and pragmatic. The women, who customarily marry around age 14 and have as many children, are responsible for making and selling their exquisite handicrafts. Sadly, too often men spend the days in their huts without windows, smoking Opium while young children parent those even younger than themselves.


“Of greatest concern was the absence of

uniform guidelines for safety or sanitation.”


I visited many local schools and found them surprisingly similar to local Western schools in certain respects, although they were as different as can be imagined in others. Of greatest concern was the absence of uniform guidelines for safety or sanitation. But I observed many lovely practices such as children growing their own vegetables and taking them to market. We had the good fortune to come upon children preparing for a dance contest between schools and were treated to a demonstration of local dances and tribal costumes. I was delighted to see caring teachers, motivated and happy students, and classrooms equipped with desks, books, musical instruments, and at times a computer, revealing that education is valued even in relatively poor communities.

Searching for Schools in a New Country: Meeting Children’s Special Needs

September 9, 2009

Mobility Magazine Cover

Lucy Mellors and Liz Perelstein published

“Searching for Schools in a New Country: Meeting Children’s Special Needs”

in MOBILITY Magazine, September 2009.

Family concerns remain the most overwhelming reason for assignment refusal or failure, and this challenge is heightened when addressing a child with special needs. A well thought-out process and high standards can be the difference between success and disaster when moving special-needs children. Lucy and Liz outline 13 comprehensive steps, as well as an explanation of how to accomplish each step. The process includes:

  • Start with the child, not the school;
  • Conduct an in-depth analysis of the values of the family;
  • And be aware of the curriculum differences relevant to the move.

This article is the perfect guide for any parent facing the challenges of an assignment of repatriation.

The entire article can be found here.