In the beginning
I have been fascinated with Asia at an early age after my father showed me a Bruce Lee movie and have been a fan ever since and started learning Karate a Japanese Martial Art because there was no Chinese Martial Arts at the time in my hometown. In May 2004 I was a student in my 2nd year at Bolton University, UK. I made semi plans heading to go to Connecticut in America to do a year there. One day passing by a billboard advert saying 揕et抯 go to China for a month September enquire now?Bolton University had a Student Exchange Programme with Zhaoqing University, so I enquired about it and thought ok and I needed the extra 20 credits to graduate the following year. Luckily in the Halls of Residence I was sharing with 3 Chinese students who were government workers were sent out to do their MA抯 (masters) so I asked them a lot of questions about Zhaoqing so they filled me in and recommendations where to go.
Picture below @ the entrance of Lake View Cemetery in Seattle, USA, to pay my respects to my hero October 2009,牋
Pictures left in between Foshan and Shunde, March 2009.?Where the new Bruce Lee museum is.
So I headed out to China in September of that year landed in Hong Kong and caught the ferry to Zhaoqing. After arriving I was shocked how different everything was the heat, air, the scenery, etc. After unpacking I went straight out to explore Zhaoqing. I visited the local attractions like Ding Hu Mountain, 7 Star Lake, etc. I was amazed not everyone could not speak English and just relied on body language some situations were difficult and some were funny.?I was surprised how many restaurants there are and night market eating vegetables, meat products, etc from 7pm to the early hours in the morning. That was really really cool we don抰 have anything like that in UK. So going to night market eating was a regular thing for me. People were friendly many would say 慔ello? or the parents would push their kids to say something like 慦here are you from??What抯 your favourite food??etc. So that good and Zhaoqing reminded me of my hometown being a tourist city. After finishing my course at the University I had 2 weeks left before I depart back to UK. I went on a multi trip north with a few friends we had to go to Guangzhou to catch the train.
Pictures right: Various times I have gone by myself or with friends to the day and night market(s) to eat the local foods.
?My impressions of Guangzhou)
Very little I knew about the city my first impressions I didn抰 like the place, even to this day I still don抰 like Guangzhou. Sometimes I have to go Guangzhou on for various reasons but once I am done. I head straight back to Zhaoqing or to the next destination where I need to go, period. The city is dirty, too many people, too crowded, humidity and air pollution etc. Ok, Guangzhou has changed a lot over the years but I still get don抰 feel any better about the place. I have heard from Foreigners and Chinese say the same thing. Is just to work.?
Anyway, like I was saying, we got on the train and we were on a 6 bunk hard sleeper, which was an experience it was a 28 hour train ride to Xi抋n. I liked Xi抋n I liked the old buildings and the gates they have around the city. I visited the Terracotta Army and a few temples. Our next destination we headed for Beijing for a 4 day trip. We tried the 4 bunk Soft sleeper, that was better and it was a closed room so it was quieter than the 6 bunk. Getting to Beijing I found it much cooler walking around we visited the local tourist places to the square and up to the great wall. I never knew getting to the great wall is a 3 hour bus ride there.
On the Great Wall, Beijing, September 2004.
In UK 3 hours travel is a long time for us, but here it抯 nothing, so I got used to travelling over a 3 hour ride going places. In when I go back to UK for a 2 hour, 4 hour, 7 hour travel is nothing to me now. Our next destination was Wuhan and then back to Zhaoqing. I don抰 really remember too much about Wuhan and can抰 recall taking pictures we were only there for about 5 hour stop and then had to get back on the train. 燙oming back to Zhaoqing I had only a few days left and started to wonder more around Zhaoqing getting to know my way around Zhaoqing. Then I came to conclusion. I love Zhaoqing, it抯 not too big and not too small, it抯 a good size and easy to get around and I抦 coming back after I graduate.?
On my way to Hong Kong
Leaving Zhaoqing by boat I spent 2 days in Hong Kong exploring the tourist attractions, the peak, the HK ferry, Kowloon Mong Kok area, etc. at that point the 慉venue of Stars were under construction and heard there will be a Bruce Lee statue placed there paid by the Bruce Lee Fan clubs around the world.
?/span>Picture left: Me on Avenue of stars. Kowloon, with the all new Bruce lee statue, Hong Kong, April 2006.
First impressions of Hong Kong
I LOVE Hong Kong, I really do. I always get excited going to Hong Kong, it may be crowded and noisy but I can tolerate that and I can easily get my way around HK and I go back at least 2 or 3 times a year for a walkabout or shopping. I love going down the small roads of Kowloon discovering unique shops and getting some good deals. I love going to the night market on Woo Sung Street in Kowloon (picture right) to eat the delicious spicy crab and sometimes to the Thai restaurant to have Papaya Green Curry along with a Thai beer. Hong Kong may be more expensive on some things hotel wise I don抰 mind paying a little extra. When I go back to UK or going somewhere on holiday I will always try to depart from Hong Kong and coming back. After a holiday I like to land in Hong Kong and stay a day or 2 for last bit of shopping and also a warm up before going back to the mainland. ?/span>
How I became an English Teacher.
While I was studying at Zhaoqing University I had teachers and people on campus and on the street asking me to teach their kids English. I heartily responded 慚e, an English teacher? Naaa.?Before I left I re-thought about it and asked my teachers back in Bolton to find more information they recommended me to do a TEFL course (Teaching English as a foreign language). I did a 5 day intense course and passed and headed back out to China a couple of months later. After arriving back in Zhaoqing I did odd jobs from Kindergarten抯 to College Students and worked in a training centre called 慡ummit Cambridge?for 5 years until they started to take an advantage and cheat me it was heartbroken leaving because I really did enjoy working for that training centre. So I applied at Zhaoqing University, had an interview and got accepted and been here since 2010.
Pictures below: One of the graduations @ Zhaoqing University May 2011
Knowing the in抯 and outs of teaching
I was really nervous on my first day of teaching I was teaching a kindergarten in town but luckily I had a teaching assistant and gave me some hints and tips for example smile, laugh, do silly faces and telling them what抯 good and bad. Flash cards I was comfortable repeat 慉pple?慉pple?態anana?態anana? In time I got better and confident and started to be created not just saying what the material is on the book but be more creative on supporting the material. Teaching primary up to University students I follow their books and support with my own material which I have downloaded and 90% of the time it works. I discovered I had natural teaching talent for example I have my lesson plan and if something happens I see, a look, a word, and a sentence something clicks into my head and do this and I go off my original lesson plan. Natural teaching is something you cannot teach another teacher. Either you抳e got it or not. I feel a good teacher should be patient, active, friendly and a passion to teach and be able to move around the class and express with their bodies on what they are talking about.?Sometimes teaching can be like acting on stage. When you give out energy and you get energy back from the students you give more back out to them and turns out to be a good lesson. However, I have experienced I get negative energy from the students so I go back to basics to the book and slow it down. I then wait a spark to happen and the students get active and the energy has risen again and then off I go. In teaching the teacher never stops thinking and watching and observing on ideas what can be used for the next class. Today I constantly look, listen and think and see if it can be useful in class.牋牋
Travelling and Settling down Every year I try to go on holiday I have been to a lot of places around China for sightseeing and tasting the local foods when I get the chance. I also have travelled to China抯 neighbor抯 countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan. I did live in Japan for 10 months travelling roundtrip, teaching and doing courses on Karate for the experience. I found Japan is good for a holiday but to live and work is difficult. After staying 7 months in Tokyo (picture above right) has putting me off living in a big city. 營t was just tiring going from one station to another to get to a destination on the Tokyo subway. So I came back to Zhaoqing, within my time I have so many friends here and my parents come to see me at least once a year. In 2007 I met a very special Chinese lady who has the same interests as me, we dated and travelled together and tied the knot in October 2009. 燬he opened a training centre downtown and at times I help her out with classes.
Pictures: Wedding shoot photo抯 era between April ?October 2009
What抯 happening today?
I have been in Zhaoqing for 7 years now and I still enjoy living and working in Zhaoqing. I have my own Karate classes and International VIS English classes for smart gifted students at the training centre. I take great pleasure in teaching and I give the students as much as I can if they give me the energy back. In addiction I encourage more for students to open their mouths and be able to talk clearly and be confident in their speaking ability. I have no intentions leaving Zhaoqing in a short time. Only time will tell.
An interview online 2011 from Zhaoqing TV
By Derek Blaire Buick
From: England, UK.
ZQU foreign teacher at School of Foreign Languages