It wasn’t easy to go back to school today after a two-week winter break (I’m a middle school principal), but as I’ve said before, I’m blessed to get to work with some special teachers in my job. One of our teachers, Mary, has spent a month of each of her past two summers teaching English in China.
We were so delighted that she sent us a postcard this year and asked her to share a little bit more about her experiences there. Here are some excerpts from Mary’s response:
“My time in China has been one of the most rewarding teaching experiences in my 30+ years in the classroom. I taught Chinese English teachers American teaching methodologies. Each and every one of the teachers was hungry for our ideas and anything we could tell them about our lives. They were eager to share their culture with us as well. In all my travels, the Chinese were the kindest, most accepting people I’ve met. I felt welcomed and at home.
I also taught Chinese high school students. Forget about the students being better behaved than American kids. They’re high school students. ‘Nuff said. But add to that a huge interest in all things American. They drank in all I could tell them about students in our schools and their lives outside of school. I have students I still keep in touch with by the Chinese version of Facebook—QQ.
When I was teaching in Baoding, our students took us out and about the city a couple of evenings. We had student guides who practiced their English as they showed off their city to us. It was so much fun to see the excitement in their faces as they led us to the beautiful gardens and temples in our area of the city.
Chinese students are driven to say the least. I had teachers showing me videos of their students coming to school early to practice their physical education routines or for a bit of extra study time. The usual day for a Chinese student runs from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Students have a long lunch break—about an hour and a half to two hours, but they have to come back for mandatory homework sessions from 7:00-9:00 p.m. I did see evidence of stress in the students, both in the time I was there and in communication since I’ve been home. They have little time to be kids. The goal of perfection weighs heavily on Chinese children.
I’ve been asked if I’d go back to China, it isn’t difficult to answer. It’s a resounding yes. I found that I like teaching adults as well as students and made some wonderful friends young and old. China is a third-world country with a fine veneer of development which makes it a delightful mix of experiences. I would encourage anyone considering a trip to China to grasp it with both hands and hold on tight. It’s an experience you’ll never forget.”
[well]When you’re traveling next, be sure to send us a postcard at Postcard Jar, P.O. Box 334, Crete, NE 68333. We’d love to hear from you![/well]