My time at the University of South China has come to a close, and while I’m so sad to leave this city and my life here, I can’t wait to try something new.
I love China – the culture, the people, the food, the challenges – and I’m not ready to leave this country yet. I’m going to be spending another year in the land of pandas and dragons and I’m so excited!
Where are you going?
While Hengyang, Hunan will always be like my Chinese home, I wanted to experience life in a totally different kind of city. So this August I’m moving to Guangzhou, the third largest city in China with more than 15 million people.
It’s in the southern part of China, very close to Hong Kong and two hours away from Hengyang on the fast train. Every province in China is different, with it’s own dialect and special food, and Guangzhou is especially different because people speak Cantonese in the Guangdong Province, a totally separate language.
What are you going to do?
I’ve loved my time with university students, but going with the theme of moving to a different city, I want to work with a different age group.
Next year I’m going to be a kindergarten teacher.
What!? All my students have either laughed or gasped when I tell them this. The first things they ask is “Are you crazy?” and then “How are they going to understand you? You don’t know Chinese and they don’t know English!”
This semester I taught a kindergarten class on the weekends. I had no idea what to expect, but I quickly loved this class because of their enthusiasm, their sweet little faces as they listened to me. I know teaching kindergartners will have lots of challenges (and they’re not always so sweet), but I love this age group and I can’t wait to meet my new students next year.
As far as teaching goes, of course I’m not teaching them how to have a job interview in English or something hahahaa. They’re four and five! We start with basics, learning vocabulary about greetings, animals, colors, body parts, etc. Songs and games and videos are perfect for this. I will have Chinese teachers to help me as well, but it’s just primarily me teaching the English.
Wait…you’re going to teach English for a third year?
I didn’t plan on staying in China past one year!
My first year was something different and exciting to try after graduation. I loved it so much though that I wanted to come back, so one year became two, and two years is going to become three.
I actually studied Public Relations at university – maybe some find it a little strange that I’m teaching English in China without much of a background in education, or they’re surprised that I’m not going back to the U.S. to pursue a career in my job field.
But I’ve become so passionate about the Chinese people, getting to know my students, learning about them and their culture. I’ve learned being a teacher is more than just passing along information. It’s building up your students and helping their confidence grow, giving them an open environment to speak out their ideas and encouraging them.
I have a unique opportunity as a foreign teacher in China. Many of my students had never met a foreigner before – I was so shocked when they told me I was the first non Chinese person they have ever talked to in person! (Not all students are like this though.) It’s such a different experience, and this gives me a chance to talk to them about American culture, values, people. They love learning more about native speaker mannerisms, slang words, pop culture. I may not be the best teacher or the most experienced, but I know I have the enthusiasm and desire to help them the best ways that I can.
It’s not always easy to be far away from home for 10 months at a time. I miss my family and friends and I feel far away from events happening in their lives and from even American things. But I feel so happy and fulfilled here in China, and I want to continue living here. I’m not sure what will happen in the future – maybe it’s my last year, or maybe I’ll stay here 10 more years. (“You can find a Chinese boy and marry him and live here forever” my student Rita told me hahaha).
I believe in His plan and purpose for my life, and as long as He’s still opening doors for me here I’m going to go go go!
I’m so thankful for the last two years I’ve spent in China and I can’t wait to see what else will happen here in the future.
If you are interested in learning more about life in China or even want to be a teacher here I’d love to talk to you!
You can also check out some of my other posts on what I’ve done in China.
Teaching English to Chinese Children
My Last Week Teaching at The University of South China
Mid-Semester Update Spring 2017