"Teacher Journal," Sias University
Freshly graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Arts in History and Linguistics, Lobbezoo moved to China in summer 2006 to teach English at Sias International University. She taught (and became the Sophomore team leader) for a second year as well before heading home in 2008.
Lobbezoo was asked to write a reflective piece on her experience as a teacher living on campus at Sias.
Teacher Journal, by Corri Lobbezoo
The ringing phone rudely awakened me this morning. It was my mum. She wanted to send me some stuff from home. But I couldn't even remember what items I'd left behind and still needed. Besides, other than some specific things, I'm discovering that even in the "village" of Xinzheng it's possible to find almost anything, if you're willing to snoop around in the little shops.
I've been away from Ontario for more than three months now - the longest I've ever been away from home. The time here has whizzed past. Yet so much happens in each day that one day seems like several days crammed into one.
These days, everyone's busy prepping for Culture Week. A part of me can't wait until it's over, because it's a lot of work, but mostly I'm looking forward to seeing the performances. You walk around Peter Hall at any time of day or night, and you'll see people practicing swing dance, Filipino hip-hop, tango - you name it. On the roof, in the lobby, in the meeting room (with all the tables pushed out of the way). It's bizarre and highly entertaining.
I think this place is pretty bizarre in general, though. Maybe unique is a better word. It's sometimes hard to describe to people back home. I've never heard of another place in the world with a big bunch of foreigners living the same building, eating meals in the same dining hall, working together as teachers, hanging out together as friends, all of us away from family, friends and familiarity, in a developing country, working with awesome Chinese students.
Everything, from the environment to the people, is a unique experience. I went up to 'the roof' to do my laundry this morning, and couldn't resist walking around up there and taking in the view.
The day was cool and hazy; the sun just emerging. The stillness of the fog muffled the sounds of students socializing on their way to class, of construction workers hammering away, of kitchen dishes clattering down in the cafeterias.
The view was a perfect illustration of how I often feel here. Just beneath me, some foreign teachers/friends headed off to class.
All around, the campus stood, an architectural blend of East -- the pagoda -- and West -- the buildings of European Street. And beyond the campus, the streets of Xinzheng bustled with Chinese citizens going about their daily activities. Am I in North America (food, foreign friends, language in Peter Hall)? Europe (architecture)? China (students, language outside of Peter Hall, everything else)?
The only possible answer: I'm at SIAS International University, living in Peter Hall, residing in China, Henan Province.
I love being here.
Big picture: It's exciting to be a part of this country and university, to have the opportunity to teach and impact students who will someday be leaders in this up-and-coming nation.
Foreign teacher perspective: It's challenging and rewarding to work with these eager, sincere and helpful students and supportive staff, and receive excellent training.
My personal picture: a chance to grow and learn like no other. This place teems with talent and opportunity. Anything I've ever wanted to learn, I can learn here -- martial arts, dance, music (pick an instrument: erhu, guitar, piano, Chinese flute or drums), language (Chinese, Japanese, French, etc.), cooking, counseling, academic subjects (history, linguistics, etc.) and the list goes on and on.
I thought I was sacrificing so much to come to China, to Sias -- personal comforts, further education, etc. -- but every day I've been thankful for this experience.
Well, I'd better end here -- lesson planning beckons. . .