AYC Stage 1: Application and Selection.

When I was younger, being adopted seemed normal. I never thought of it as something that only a handful experienced. I saw my mom and dad like any other child does, their everything. I saw Lincoln, NE as my hometown, the city that gave me a place to develop. In one sense, those perceptions ring true, and are still beliefs that are held strong in my heart. However there was a big piece of my life that had been left unknown: where I was born, China. As I have grown older, my curiosity to learn about my biological origin has grown with me. I want to visit my hometown, Dianbai District in Guangdong Province, learn Chinese, and most importantly, experience the rich and vast culture that China holds. All of these desires led me to promise myself that I would live in China to teach English and learn Chinese before I die. I made this promise to myself during my second year of college, but didn’t have any laid out plan to make my dream come to actual fruition. And then…

August, 2016:  I received an email on the 11th titled, “Opportunity with Ameson: Year in China”. What is this? At first glance, I perceived it as one of those unwanted spam emails that clogs my inbox. Though, after quickly scrolling through the email, the words ‘no program fees‘, ‘receive a monthly salary‘, and the abundance of the word ‘China‘ piqued my interest. I thought about how Ameson’s Year in China Program (AYC) would fit in with my life’s timeline, and questions began flooding my thoughts. Would a year be too long of a commitment? Is this company even legit? What about where I would live? What about grad school?! Even though this opportunity aligned perfectly with my dream to go to China, I became scared.

I decided to set the offer to apply aside, anyways graduation was just around the corner. Woohoo!

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Graduation! 8.14.16

This also means it was time to get a real job, and become a real adult. I was currently working as a Customer Engagement Intern at a bank consulting firm, and there was talk of offering me a full time position with the company. One problem though, I hated the job. Don’t get me wrong, my boss and coworkers were great, the paycheck was fantastic, and I actually thought I was pretty good at my job. However, I couldn’t see myself working in an office, staring at a computer, helping banks gain more profit any longer. I felt that my calling in life was to help foster people’s success not companies who are money driven, aka banks. Anyways, as predicted, I was offered a full time position a few days before my graduation ceremony, and after contemplation, I declined the offer (which, while scary, was one of the best decisions of my life). After applying for several new jobs, and receiving multiple offers, I accepted work at AMVNX as a Program Coordinator (another decision that ranks up there with some of the best decisions I’ve made).

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Celebrating Tet New Year 2017 with AMVNX students and staff. 2.2.17

September, 2016: I receive another email from Ameson, stating that they understand if I have made other plans, but would loooooove it if I made a contribution to the company to help their future endeavors. …Okay, first of all I’m poor, or else they would be right at the top of my donation list! All joking aside though, this email reminded me of my dream to teach English in China and visit my home country. I also told myself that I had graduated in three years with the mantra in mind that doing so would give me an extra year to live a life not studying in a lecture hall. While in college, I volunteered to teach English to Vietnamese immigrants, was a Cultural Ambassador, immersed myself in the international student community, and researched successful international student integration on college campuses for my Bachelor’s thesis! All the decisions I made in college seemed to point me to AYC! It became strikingly clear that AYC was the perfect fit, and that right now was the perfect time. With not much expectation, I decided to apply to the program.

Winter 2016: I went back and forth between wanting to tell my friends and family, because the last thing I wanted to do was be like, “Hey everyone, so I applied to live and teach English in China for a year! (a few months later) Yea so about that, they didn’t want me.” Rejection is hard, and telling others that you were rejected is even tougher, so I only told my mom, sisters, and two of my good friends. As the weeks of 2016 continued to pass by, I heard nothing back from Ameson, and what little optimism I had, dwindled.

Early December, 2016:  I am at Kohls, in a dressing room, trying on a dress and then I hear a BING from my phone. I look at my screen and see some Chinese and the words ‘AYC We’ve Received Your Application!’ My slow brain doesn’t connect the dots until I tapthe email and read ‘We would like to extend an invitation to interview for the Educational Ambassador position’. Once the realization hits that was not rejected (yet), I literally began jumping up and down and reread the email once more. I then emailed the Program Manager, Aegean, and scheduled a time that worked for both of us to interview. With China being 14 hours ahead of Lincoln, the interview had to be super late night my time, and early afternoon China time.

December 15th, 2016: The day after my interview, I hear a familiar BING from my phone. I look at my screen and see the words ‘AYC Acceptance Letter’, and the biggest smile creeps onto my face.

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I immediately called my mom and told her the news with elation ringing through my voice. She was happy for me, though after uttering a few celebratory sentences, she quickly turned to listing off all her concerns, in the typical worried mother fashion. She wasn’t impressed that I had no answers for her.

February 24th, 2017: I have just finished submitting all the paperwork necessary to move on to the Placement Stage. I am a citizen of the United States. I have a valid passport. I have successfully graduated from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. I have signed the contract, selling my soul to the 2017-2018 AYC program. I am not a criminal. And I am healthy and will not die in front of my students during my time in China.

The Placement Stage is the most exciting part for me, as it will determine what city I will be calling home for a year. If anything, I am hoping to teach in a bigger city than Lincoln, since I really love exploring and discovering many things. Plus I’ve lived in Lincoln, NE (a small city in the middle of “nowhere” in comparison to the rest of America) my whole life, so I think it’s time for a change. Though, with all that said, I will find happiness and adventure in which ever city I am placed in, I will make sure of it!

Until next time,
Heather Mei

Featured image from   http://nihao.nehow.com/staticimages/new3.2/home/home_slider3.jpg

 

 

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