My first day in Bao’an was steady stream of chaos, noise and confusion. The only real thought I was keenly aware of was:
“It’s hot, it’s so hot.”
I had already sweated through the clothes I was wearing and all I could think about was sleep and the possibility of shower. I passed out in the taxi.
It’s been almost two years, since my initial, and might I say very insightful, (it’s still hot)first impressions of my new home. The district of Bao’an and I have grown a lot since then, Bao’an is in a rapid stage of development and there is always construction, watching a city being built around you is disorienting and mesmerizing. I have learned that the people Bao’an have heart’s of overwhelming kindness and generosity. We strangers are not treated with disdain or fear, but are instead invited to open conversation and are persuaded to enjoy and partake in the local culture. The amount of times I’ve been offered free umbrella’s to save from the sudden flash floods, or been offered free lifts on Moped-taxi’s (you need to try one it’s an essential part of living in Bao’an) just so I can get home quicker have been innumerable and highly appreciate. You become part of the community. You feel safe and secure, and ready for any challenge that present it’s self to you.
The community lays a foundation for your rapid growth.
Without a doubt the most rewarding part of my time in China, has been my job as an ESL Teacher. It’s also where I am constantly challenged, and invited to go one step further in my professional development. CIPTC have placed me in the wonderful Haiwang School in Bao’an Central. The student’s here are curious, full of laughter and boundless energy, not to mention keenly observant and intelligent. Here my day’s become an unrelenting adventure, you will never have the same lesson twice, you might try too, you might hope too, but you won’t, you’ll use the same Power-point the same flashcards, script, actions, techniques, but repetition is for the students not for you.
Each student is unique therefore each class come with its own set of problems and rewards. Sometimes you will spend hours on lesson, just to have it not work. The grammar was too complex or the subject matter too boring, the idea’s impossible to explain without translation, that one kid who refuses to listen is on top of their game today (even though you secretly think what they are doing is very funny), it will all come together to collapse a lesson, this can feel upsetting but you mustn’t feel dejected and you mustn’t give up, because for each moment of self doubt you might feel, there are thousands of joyful and hopeful moment’s to be had. When a student is able to tell a joke in English, play a school yard game (Rock, paper, scissors is my favorite) or even talk about something the enjoy; a Grade three girl who loves Harry Potter accused me of being Lord Voldemort the other day (I’ve had worse insults). These are the everyday moment’s that keep you going, that make it worth some of the inevitable frustrations you’ll face.
Although as teacher I have never felt more joy or sense of accomplishment when a Grade two I had been working with for a full year was finally able to sit down and participate in a game without causing destruction. This was an overwhelming feeling joy, pride and deep sense that I had, in my own little way, made a difference. This was not all my doing I am aware, I have had many wonderful colleagues, who had helped this young student and I progress. This feeling of finally being able to connect with this young boy was cemented the next week when he said the sentence:
“Teacher, I am Terry, I like sweets.”
This was incredible, I was elated. I had never heard him speak any English to anyone. From that day on he just kept getting more and more confident, he seemed happier and more content in class, he learned more words and even spoke to the other foreign teacher’s at the school. He was progressing, not just in his studies but in his life, he was making friends, and having a better time, this is not something that just any job offers, this is one of the greatest joys only those working with children get to understand. Terry might never get good grade’s on his tests, I might not get through to every student, but our learned experience’s keep us from stagnating, to be the best teacher you have to keep learning. Learn to enjoy the little moments and learn to let go off those times you were less than successful, let yourself progress and grow, just like your surroundings. Just like those you teach.
Terry’s Class singing on children’s day.
These are just some things I thought I share with those out there considering becoming an ESL teacher with CIPTC. This company is very supportive and understanding, they have helped me greatly during the COVID-19 Crisis, both professionally and personally, and it’s great to know that if I need help, all I have to do is reach out and ask for it. So I would just like to thank everyone who’s helped me get where I am now. A confident, ready for anything, ESL teacher.
by Erin, English Teacher at CIPTC in Shenzhen, China
Credit: CIPTC Shenzhen.
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