March 22nd, 2017: For the past month, my internal alarm clock has woken me up around 8:30AM, for reasons that I do not know. One of the first things that pops into my head when I awake is: China. And then this seemingly harmless thought turns into a huge jumble of unanswered questions. Were my notarized documents accepted? Have I even been placed into a school yet? Maybe this is taking so long because no school in China wants me. Will I get my working visa in time? Maybe I haven’t heard back from Aron (my RPL) because he died!? Whoa there, slow down. Basically, I am just a mess. And the morning of March 22nd was no different. Before I get out of bed to start my day, I always wake myself up with the meaningless but addicting ritual of checking social media for any riveting updates. And so, like clock work, I grabbed my phone and scrolled.
Facebook, check. Instagram, check. SnapChat, check. LinkedIn, check (yes, I regularly check that one too). Gmail, 1 new email.
I tapped on the bolded email in my Gmail app, titled “Welcome!”
It was an email from a woman named Jenny. She’s an English teacher in Jiangshan Experimental Primary School. Okay, cool. (I initially processed the first few lines of that email, almost as nonchalantly as you read those sentences.) I then think to myself, it has been nearly a week since I last heard from Aron regarding any news about my placement. Wait. Hold up. …Is THIS essentially the “You’ve Been Placed” email, I have been so desperately waiting for?! As I continued to read, I learned that Jenny was emailing to let me know that the Quzhou Educational Bureau introduced my paperwork to her and other colleagues, informing them that I would be the new American English teacher coming to teach in the fall. I am pretty sure at this point my eyes are popping out of their sockets.
First thought: AMAZING! WHAT A WAY TO START MY DAY!
Next thought: Get up! Respond to Jenny! Go put Google to work!
I did some research on Jiangshan and Jiangshan Experimental Primary School (I’m going to give this school the unofficial acronym: JEPS), and unfortunately, found that there is not much information out there on the web about them. Wikipedia told me that Jiangshan is a county-level city just 15 minutes outside of Quzhou District, in Zhejiang Province, in the beautiful country of China (of course)! Jiang means river and Shan means mountain, which explains the river that runs through the city and the mountains that border it! Creativity at it’s finest, folks. The city has around 1 million people living there, with mild winters and warm summers. Wikipedia also informed me that Jiangshan lives in “relative geographical obscurity”. Well that’s great.
Fortunately, I have some Chinese friends that looked up Jiangshan and JEPS through Chinese sites for me. I was thrilled by what I saw!
March 23rd, 2017: Similar to the day before, I woke up with slight anxiety about China. This is something I should probably just get used to until I am actually there. I performed my morning social media ritual and found one new friend request and one new message notification on Facebook. I was excited to find out that the current EA teaching in JEPS reached out to me! We have been talking off and on, and I have heard nothing but great things about the city of Jiangshan and JEPS.
I have learned the following about where I will be living and teaching:
- Jiangshan is home to the Jianglang Mountains, and also very close to the east coast
- A river runs right through the city (can’t find a name for the river though)
- There’s a bullet train station in Jiangshan, making travel to other cities very easy
- My apartment is a 15-minute bike ride from JEPS
- Comes with a kitchen, living room, bathroom, AND a bedroom (a whole 3 rooms bigger than where I currently live!)
- JEPS is an elementary school that teaches 1,800 students
- I will be teaching students that are 10-12 years old
- There are 8 Chinese English teachers at JEPS
- I will be the only American English teacher
- My classes will be culture and conversation focused
Thoughts: It’s a huge relief to learn about my school and hear from future coworkers!!!!!! And that the school is real. That’s always promising. Although smaller than most cities in China, Jiangshan looks like a great place to call home for a year. My hope is to spread more awareness about Jiangshan through my future adventures and teaching experiences while living there! All of the recent news just solidifies that this is actually, like literally actually, happening. Now time to get that work visa rolling. I haven’t heard from Aron whether or not my notarized documents have been approved… I hope to hear from him soon.
Until next time,
P.S. I am realizing that I keep adding new acronyms to every AYC blog post, heck you may not even know what AYC stands for. So from now on, I will include a key at the bottom of AYC blogs, just to clarify all the acronyms!
A Year in China (AYC): “A program offering opportunities for college graduates to spend a year teaching, learning, and making a difference at public schools across China,” through the company, Ameson. Check them out at: http://www.goayc.org
Educational Ambassador (EA): That’s me! The Americans that go to China to teach English and share American culture
Regional Placement Liaison (RPL): That’s Aron. The person working at Ameson’s office in Shanghai, who is responsible for placement, processing of documents, and facilitating communication between the EA and their host school. There are many RPLs, representing many different regions of China. Essentially, the RPL is the EA’s life line between the USA and China, prior to arrival, and then the life line between the EA and their school, once in China.
Jiangshan Experimental Primary School (JEPS): My own, unofficial, acronym for the school I will be teaching at.
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