Teaching Overseas: My first year in China!
This week we’re welcoming a new member to our blogging team! Hardial is a Canadian expat who’s just completed her first year of teaching overseas. Stay tuned for more insight and stories of life in China!
I have been teaching in Hangzhou, China for a year now. I began teaching at a Montessori preschool as a leader teacher in February. Along with a Chinese Montessori-trained co-leader, I care for and teach a group of 25 kids, who are between the ages of 3 and 6. I spend every day, Monday-Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. with them. None of them have ever met another foreigner, and almost none of them knew how to speak English when we began… some of them could hardly speak Chinese!
I have learned a lot these past few months. Since I started, a whole school semester has passed, and I am beginning my second, with most of the same students, along with a few new ones. This time around, I feel like a completely different teacher than I was when I began.
At first, it was intimidating to welcome a group of young children who had never been to school before. They had no concept of class rules or organized group activities, and were pretty confused when they saw me – a light-skinned Canadian with blue eyes and (what they consider to be) blonde hair. Some were interested in me, and some were terrified! To be fair, I was a little scared of them, too. My past teaching experience was minimal: a few token days over a couple of weeks in a displaced persons’ village in Colombia, and individual tutoring here in Hangzhou through a company that would match students with teachers and then generally get out of the way. But there I was, on the first day of school, as my kids arrived. Some cried hysterically when their parents tried to leave, some ran around playing with all of the meticulously arranged toys and activities, and some sat down nicely and did individual work.
In many ways, this has been one of the hardest years of my life, but it has also been one of the most exciting and rewarding. I have learned so much about myself and about life in China, and I can’t wait to share it all!