Tag Archives: Seattle Community Colleges

A learning experience

April 5, 2012

The thing that makes teaching here so hard is that the Chinese English teachers don’t speak the language very well. At our school in Mianyang, it seems that 1 teacher per grade level speaks the language well enough to have a conversation with, but most of the others I can’t really talk to. And I think that’s really sad because these kids don’t know they are learning improper language. I think that every school that has foreign teachers should provide a class where the native English speaker teaches the Chinese teachers of English proper pronunciation. There are many, many mistakes. I think these mistakes could be corrected if the teachers could speak better English themselves.

Across the board, I’ve heard from other teachers around the country that the students are out of control/undisciplined. I have trouble controlling my classes, and the attitude that our classes aren’t important because there is no grade or formal test at the end is very widespread. That attitude– and learning how to have good classroom management with large classes of undisciplined students–is something that foreign teachers need to be better prepared for. There is a school in Chengdu where my friend works where the Chinese teachers told her not to take her job too seriously and to let the kids play. Another school in Chengdu doesn’t have a Foreign Affairs Officer (FAO), so that teacher is left on her own to solve all of her own problems. My current situation is just fine, but I know it’s because Ping at Buckland really wanted to make sure that the Seattle Community Colleges people got taken care of really well. Some teachers from outside of our District didn’t get ideal situations.

If I could do this whole program over again, I would prepare myself better for being here. I did a lot of good preparation on things like what to bring with me, but I did not prepare well for how I would interact with the Chinese people. I did not study much about Chinese culture and how the people are different from Americans, and I think it would’ve been really helpful if I had. It’s not enough to know that the kids may behave differently in the classrooms – to exist and live in China you have to know things. For example, most Chinese people will stare at you and make comments about you and point at you and laugh. People will call you “fat” to your face over and over again. They will laugh at you when you don’t understand something or if you pronounce things wrong. The kids will be brutally honest about what they think about your appearance. And you will not understand why people treat you so differently. As a white person living in big city like Seattle, I can’t really speak much to racism, but if I had to guess, this might be what it feels like, at least a little bit. Most people aren’t hostile–there’s not a hatred or anything. People are what we would consider very rude, but to them they are just acting like they would normally. They call each other fat, and laugh at each other, make fun of them, and think nothing of it. But I wasn’t prepared for this at all, and it ruined my first couple of weeks here until I realized how much that “rudeness” is just a part of their culture.

The best part for me is that in Sichuan Province there is so much to do, and it’s all only a couple hours from my school where I am teaching. I spend my weekends going on trips and seeing sites. Wandering around as a tourist is when I’m having the most fun. Teaching stresses me out, and I think that is because I have no formal teaching experience. I’ve figured it out, but I still spend many hours making lesson plans. When the contract says that we teach 15 hours a week, that only counts for the actual minutes of class time we are teaching. That doesn’t count the hours of lesson planning, or the hours I spend sitting around at school because on some days my schedule is very spread out during the day. It’s still less work than I do at home and I’m not complaining, but I found the 15 hours per week to be a little misleading. I am compensated for my extra lessons though (I teach 21 lessons per week) so that’s not a problem.

Honestly I’ve struggled a lot here. The amount of personal growth I’m experiencing is phenomenal and it will pay off in the end. At this point, I would definitely sign up to do this again, but it is a lot harder to be here than I was expecting.

Reiny Cohen



April 15, 2012

Everything is going great in China. The school that I work at is really cool. I’m very happy that I came to China. I am working with kids from the ages of 12-15. I have junior 1, junior 2, and senior 1. Lesson planning for my 15 teaching hours isn’t too overwhelming. It’s pretty easy if you just follow what’s in the book they give you, but it gets hard at times when the kids don’t understand half of the content in the book and you have to take out and add stuff to it so that they can understand it. But… I guess that’s the way it’s supposed to be! Things aren’t meant to be easy, there’s always going to be somewhat of a challenge. I don’t have to grade for any of my classes, so I probably spend about 30 minutes in preparation for each lesson and I only need to plan 3 lessons per day. It’s not bad!

I think that expanding the Teach in China program to other students or colleges in Seattle would be a great idea. Coming to China really helped open my eyes to a lot of things.

Crystal Hernandez



April 17, 2012

Here’s some feedback:

What is the school like? The school I am currently teaching at is quite large with around 1200 students from grades 1-6. The school has another campus within walking distance of my home that has another 800 or so students. My first month and a half in this city was spent going to multiple schools; I taught at 7 schools throughout the city.

How are you adapting to teaching? Adapting was pretty easy for me, but going to new school every week was definitely trying. The teachers are nice and the students are excited to learn and generally well behaved. The schools will throw in a couple welcome ceremonies where a teacher introduces you to the school asks you a few questions about where you’re from and how you feel about China.

How is the food in the town/city or at school? The food served at school is okay, but it isn’t anything I’ll miss. Lunch and breakfast are free, although only a couple schools offer breakfast. There are plenty of restaurants around including Pizza Huts, KFCs, and some Chinese chain restaurants. The American chains are nice if you need a break from the local food, but I generally stick to food on carts since it’s cheaper and easier to point at.

What is your housing like? The house is very nice, I will attach some photos to this email. Heat, AC, washer, shower, TV, etc. were all here upon my arrival.

What are you doing in your free time? I am in Chengdu, which is a huge city, so there is plenty to do in my free time. I generally go for walks around town and go to the gym, occasionally I stumble into a bootleg DVD shop or a pool hall on the weekend. There are numerous tourist attractions in and around the city (Leshan Buddha, Wuhou Temple, etc.) that I have been slowly checking off on my to do lists. Nightclubs are everywhere throughout the town, as is plenty of shopping, and gaming cafes near the college.

Jackson Hardin



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SCC Chancellor visits China

A few more photos from Seattle Community College’s Chancellor Jill Wakefield’s visit to China in March.

Sitting in the Buckland office with the CEO of Buckland, Wen Ou.

Outside the Buckland office with the CEO of Buckland, Wen Ou, and his staff.

The Omeida sign is a language school that Jill visited.

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Students in action

A few of our blog contributors are seen enjoying their time abroad.

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First impressions

January 22, 2012

Samantha and I landed in Beijing last night at around 10pm and so we got to see all the New Year celebration fireworks. We’re staying right next to the Forbidden City. So, we’ve been testing the waters with the Internet here. There is some sort of block on certain Google voice call applications, but my Windows Live setup was working just fine. Also, it’s true, there is definitely a block on Facebook access here. I even tried an alternate proxy server and those are blocked too. Nevertheless, we are having fun and loving it. I’ll send you updates as to how we’re doing as we keep exploring and then head down to Guilin.

February 04, 2012

I forgot to tell you about a Sichuan street food restaurant we went to. We ordered and started eating. We had a really hard time eating because the food was so spicy. We killed off a 2 liter of 7-up while eating. Once we gave up because of the spiciness, we realized everyone else was eating their dinner while drinking peanut milk. A few things struck us as strange, drinking peanut milk, wearing plastic gloves while eating, but after burning our mouths, we realized why. Our Mexican taste buds are no match for the Sichuan street food.

February 08, 2012

We are here in Yangshuo now. We arrived yesterday at about noon. Last night, Ping and Greg let Samantha and I join the first orientation group for their graduation dinner. We hung out with a lot of the Seattle group: Dan, Reiny, Tom, Lauren, Jackson, Crystal, and if I’m missing someone, I’ll remember later. We all had an awesome time last night. From what they have told us, they are trying to keep the Seattle group somewhat together and just to let you know, we do our physical tomorrow, classes start on the tenth, and we’ll be completely done by Tuesday, the 14th. That is a total of only five days!

We will send you an update soon!

Alonso Torres



February 9, 2012

I love China so far. I’m in Liuyang, in Hunan province. I am very happy with my placement. My only hope –and things that I asked for regarding placement –was that I be placed in a city (not countryside) and with another foreign teacher. I know some people had a lot of demands and said if they didn’t get them that they wouldn’t go!

I think that as a suggestion to better prepare participants it would be good to explain more about the medical check up (height/weight, listen to heart, vital signs, eye exam, blood/urine test, chest xray, ultra sound) and that they MUST FOR SURE try and bring little things from home to give to students, staff that help you out and for the principal of your school. Also, even though I enjoyed a lot of the people that I met at our orientation and that some people can be really mature for their age, I do think that people under 20 should probably just wait until they are a little older to come. Some people may see it too much as a “party” and won’t really appreciate or understand other cultures.

I thought everyone in Buckland at the Yangshou orientation were very helpful: Ping, Owen, Ashley, Amy, Greg, and many others were very great. I’m really happy that I got the opportunity to come to China and teach =]

Crystal Hernandez



February 11, 2012

China is very, very different from the USA. Buckland luckily provided me with several days of useful training that allowed me to prepare for what I would face teaching in a small Chinese city. I am teaching at Yongzhou #1 Middle School (which is actually a high school) in a city called Yongzhou, located in the southern part of Hunan Province. The only thing I wish we would have covered before departure was how to deal with the isolation of being one of very few westerners in the city. Lastly, Yangshuo (where we held orientation) is the most beautiful place I have ever been in my life.

Daniel Casaletto



February 12, 2012

So far things are going fairly well. I’m in Li Xian, Hunan for the next couple weeks. Buckland has offered to let me keep the job if I like it; otherwise, I would head off to Baiyin, Gonsu in the north. Things with Buckland have been quite good. I’m not really sure what I would do without them. One of the schools I’m at is there in large part so that Buckland can have more control over the number of teachers needed rather than having to rely upon public schools.

Thomas Lippert



February 13, 2012

China has been a fantastic journey. I really enjoyed my time in Yangshuo, and I was glad to have the orientation, rather than tossing us straight into the classroom. I met a lot of special people that week that I will see again here during my travels. I’m at the Mianyang Talent School in Mianyang, Sichuan. It’s a fun city and a great school. I just started classes today but the school is very supportive and friendly, and I feel very safe and welcome here. Reiny Cohen is here at the same school with me and it’s great to have someone to plan lessons with and explore the city with. I’m very excited about being here and can’t wait for the adventures I will have in the next 5 months. Thanks for establishing this relationship with Buckland, it’s a fantastic opportunity. I’m hoping to get academic credit for this.

Lauren Freeman


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