I’ve been in China for about a month, and out of those 30 some-odd days, today was definitely my favorite!

I started teaching my official classes today! I’m teaching 8 different oral English classes: three on Monday, three on Tuesday, and two on Wednesday. I was absolutely thrilled about this schedule – I’ve gotten used to four day weekends and have heard wonderful things about oral English classes.

Helen talked to me last week and said that the freshman at the new campus start a week earlier than the old campus does, so I would end my teacher classes a week early and start teaching the freshman classes.

Helen asked one of her students, Marvin, to contact me about riding the bus to the new campus. The new campus is about a 20 minute bus ride away, and she wanted to make sure I got on the right bus and made it to my new classes, since I’ve never been to that campus before.

I met Marvin by the giant school gate around 7:15a.m. and I had a great time talking to him on the way over to the new school. He was so sweet – I told him I was a little nervous because I had never been to the new campus or had so many students before and he told me “just believe in yourself you will be great.”

I walked into class at 8a.m. and was greeted by 30 very excited freshman students. Nerves melted away. They were SO friendly and laughed at everything I said or did. The first day with students is so fun because it’s just an introduction day – I tell them about myself, and then have them introduce themselves to me and pick an English name to go by in class. (I brought a baby name book for them to look through for help)

Some of my favorite names they picked: Monica (because of Friends), Izzie (because of Grey’s Anatomy), Jackie (because of Jackie Chan), Green Tea (I was going to tell her not to pick a name like this but she was so passionate about it I couldn’t), Believe, Snow, and one girl told me she made up the name “Gonicy” and she couldn’t be persuaded to pick another name. Several Chinese girls would tell me they were shy and didn’t want to say much, so another girl jokingly told me her name was ‘Shy’.

I also had them practice talking in English while learning more about their classmates – this gave me a chance to walk around and listen to their English skills a little more and was a nice ice breaker for them to meet each other. They then had to introduce 3 facts about a person to the class. I did this for all 3 classes today and will do it again the rest of the week.

I have never felt more welcomed or appreciated or encouraged. The students were so excited to meet me, telling me they wanted to be friends and hang out together. They wanted pictures with me and hugs and high fives. They laughed at my jokes and my laugh and told me I had a warm smile and I was friendly and beautiful. They also had so many questions and were eager to learn more English. Every single minute of today was a beautiful reminder of why I came to teach in China.

When my second class ended at 11:40, several girls offered to show me the school’s canteen. The canteen at the new campus had three floors of food – two for Chinese food and one for Western/Arabic/Northern Chinese food. The students have cards they load money onto and scan when they buy food. My friend Selena insisted on buying me lunch and another girl Cece held my arm the entire time, leading me around and explaining everything.

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After lunch they invited me into their dorm room because I still had 2 hours until my next class at 3p.m. (Chinese school schedule takes a “rest” break in the afternoon from 12-3. It’s awesome.) More girls from my first two classes came into Selena’s room to say hi to me and it turned into a dance party; I taught them the cha cha slide and they loved it!IMG_8242

My third class was the most energetic – anything I said received an amazingly loud and enthusiastic response. “Good afternoon class” “GOOD AFTERNOON TEACHER.” I had so much fun with their introductions, and great conversations. Several girls walked in halfway through the class and told me they left their Chinese class to come to my class (“your class is very attractive and popular” my students told me lol)

They all added me on QQ and We Chat (China social media) and have been posting about me this evening haha

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I felt so loved and so blessed after today, and I can’t wait to meet more students this week!