Why I decided to come to China?
As one of the only Black American teachers at my middle school, I experienced a lot of discrimination. One of my students transferred from my Honors Language Arts class because her mom was not fond of her daughter having a black teacher. It was heartbreaking. Also the pay was terrible! My salary was not enough to cover monthly expenses so I applied for a position at a retail store in the mall. It was absolutely degrading. By the time summer rolled around I was so broke and exhaust4ed I couldn’t even travel; so I worked. I thought to myself this is not the life I signed up for and I had to do something about it. I typed “Teaching Jobs in China” and the rest was history. My life would never be the same again
Applying for a teaching job in China.
Once I posted my resume and submit my cover letter, my email was swarming with offer letters. During the interview process, I was asked a variety of questions such as:
- Why do you want to teach in China?
- Have you ever taught abroad before?
- Can you speak Mandarin?
I must admit I was very skeptical about getting hired because of all of the rumors I heard about Chinese being racist towards black people, but I loved the idea of being able to travel while doing something I loved. I finally found a school that was very popular and had a professional and sufficient onboarding process. They added me to a Facebook group so I was able to communicate with teachers already living in China working for the same school. The recruiter communicated with me every step of the way about what documents I needed and within six months I was on a plane to China.
Arriving in China.
The most culturally shocking thing I experienced when arriving in China was seeing grown men spit all over the sidewalk. I was absolutely horrified. Babies and children were urinating and defecating publicly on the side of the street without a care in the world. Young adults drank cans of beer freely in the parks without being harassed by anyone. It was simply fascinating. One night while exploring the nightlife with coworkers, a young man pulled up to us, rolled down the window and exposed himself. It was appalling. Why did he think it was ok to do that to us? Perhaps because we are foreign women he thought we were promiscuous. Another time I was on the elevator on my way to my hotel room provided by my school, and a Chinese guy pointed to his private parts suggesting that I follow him to his room. I frantically pressed the button to close the door flailing my arms in confusion. All of this happened within my first week of living in China. Exciting times right?
Teaching in China.
Arriving at school on the first day of school was also culturally shocking. The classrooms were a lot smaller than I was used to, but I was very excited to have a Chinese assistant in the classroom with me at all times. Many of the children wanted to touch my hair and smell my skin. One student asked if I was brown all over. I simply replied “Yes, all over,” while giggling uncontrollably. Another child asked if I smelled like chocolate. Many students assumed I was African and I had to explain to them that many black people are also from America. For the most part many of my students did not care what color I was. They loved me for being a great teacher. Once you step inside the classroom it doesn't matter what color you are. The key ingredient to succeeding as a teacher in China is making the children fall in love with you. Once your students see how amazing you are, everyone else will too.