First Impressions - Callum Price
have now reached the second month of my 10 month tenure as a teacher
in China, based in the city of Huaihua in Hunan Province. I consider
this quite a feat; I am a 22 year old from the small South Wales
Valley town of Merthyr Tydfil who has never lived away from home,
now living in a city of 5 million who don’t speak the same
language as myself, halfway across the World!
One of my first impressions of China is that it seems to be falling
over itself in its rush to build. New blocks of flats compete for
space with ramshackle tenements huddled below. Construction sites
seem to be in operation 24/7! This is a symptom of China’s
previous decade of economic boom, and it is quite a sight to experience
My second impression tally’s with many other comments left
here-how weird and bizarre China can be! There are certainly many
sights, rituals and cultural differences that at first came as quite
a shock, but these are quickly overcome by the general kindness
and generosity of the Chinese people (the exception being Chinese
taxi drivers- that proves to be just as terrifying now as it did
origninally!). To ally any fears for any avid Karl Pilkington fans,
I have not yet been made to eat any insects or baby birds! As commented,
people will stare as you walk down the street, in all areas of China,
from the relatively Westernised Beijing to Huaihua, which does not
have the same flood of tourists.
I have flirted with the option of becoming a teacher for many years,
and I consider myself extremely privileged to have had such an experience
as this. Not only have I had the opportunity to work with some incredible
students and teachers, but it has given me practical, on-the-job
training in an environment which you couldn’t find in the
UK. I teach between the ages of around 6-16, and when I think back
to my school days, and I struggle to think of half a dozen students
who were as attentive as the students I teach at No.3, or as intelligent!
The students are always willing to converse, either in the classroom
or out on campus or in the street, and I find myself often invited
to other teachers homes for meals, or to participate in events,
such as inter-departmental football matches. These are often mutually
beneficial encounters, with me imparting some English, and learning
some colloquial Chinese in return!
The food here in Huaihua is proving perfect for my palette! I am
a fan of spicy food, but the flavour here is out of this world!
I have become very accustomed to Chinese dishes in my short time
here, from Jiaozi (meat-filled dumplings) to wok-fried aubergine.
Admittedly, learning Chinese is proving a big difficulty! I am
given 2 hours worth of Chinese lessons by my school each week, and
the problem is not through bad teaching on their part, or indeed
laziness on mine, it is just very difficult! I have managed to pick
up basic greetings and phrases, but it has proved an uphill struggle!
This is an area I am particularly keen to work on, given China’s
rising economic hegemony on the world stage.
The experience has certainly helped me a great deal, from weaning
me from my pop-tart addiction to exercising patience with people
on a daily basis and widening my view of the world. It has helped
me realise how tough a job teaching can be (for anyone who’s
never taught, it is a terrifying experience when your lesson plan
doesn’t work and you have 45 minutes of a lesson left!), how
to organise a semester’s worth of lessons, but more importantly,
how to let go of any fear, find my fun side again after 3 years
of university and help my students enjoy my classes!
I anyone wants to contact me, and ask a few questions, please feel
My email address is email@example.com