My Journey to Zhaoqing
By Diana Lynne, 51 one year old American female
Several years ago while working in a corporation, I took a couple of Mandarin Chinese classes at the nearby community college. My instructor was from Zhaoqing University and now living in Minnesota but I didn’t know it then. She had wanted me to teach in China but I just couldn’t at that time. I worked in a company and could, maybe, take a couple of weeks off. I had a dog, a house and all the comforts of living in America. I made good money and had good benefits.
Then in 2008, it all started to unravel. My dog died, my father died, the economy started to fall and I was laid off from my company. By that afternoon I was going to host a senior high student from China. He lived in my house, washed his own clothes, cleaned his room each week and cooked occasionally. He was the dream teenager!! I was paid good money and thought that hosting was great. Then, two months later another boy came from China. My nightmare had arrived. Although he was taught to wash clothes, he didn’t cook and certainly didn’t clean.
A few months later, another boy came but this was not going to be as easy. One boy’s father disagreed with the other father and the boys could not be in the same bedroom. Luckily I was able to convince a friend to do this and he took the newest boy. I still kept track of him and he ate at my house occasionally. All three boys were from different provinces but it would all work out.
The school year ended in early June and this where the journey all began. I flew to Shanghai but the boys didn’t fly directly home. They met me a week later, after I had spent a week there touring around. I had breakfast in the hotel and then I flew with one of them to Chungsha. I spent four days there, toured First Normal University and then took a train to Dongguan. I spent a few days there and one of the boys stayed with me and we toured. It was at this time that we all came up to Zhaoqing, toured and I did presentations in a few classes here at Zhaoqing University. Ho Youmei set up the days and times and I spoke along with her teenage daughter. I spent the evening at the Business and IT college. It was there where I met two other foreign teachers from America.
His family took me to HongKongfor two days. I then flew to Beijing for my last week in China. I met with various people from the office of Global Language Associates. I visited the Great Wall and toured other sites. I stayed in a very American style hotel of my choosing. What a whirlwind of a trip but yet I experienced so much! Little did I know what all was in store for me when returned to the US.
I had two weeks after I returned to the US to prepare for some Chinese senior high exchange students from Lodi High near Changsha. They were to stay for 10 days and then move on to the next city. I started out with three girls. One made friends with a girl at the exchange high school and then I had four. By the end of the 10 days, I had five girls. My SUV looked like a clown car with everyone piling out in the morning. After that group left, I had a high school graduate come stay with me for a month. She attended Global Language Institute, a place where she could better her English before college. By the end of August, my high school student came back for the school year. By that September, I started back to school to get my TEFL certificate.
That fall at the International school (private school in Minnesota), I was the academic manager over two girls and 4 boys. I monitored their schoolwork and behavior. I tutored one middle school boy from Xian starting in January. By the end of the school year I felt so relieved to put the last kid on the airplane.
My first boy from Changsha that graduated.
But something occurred that Memorial Day weekend (end of May). As I had a near death experience, it occurred to me that the last two years had let up to this. I received a letter of offer from Zhaoqing University to come teach that fall. As I thought to myself, “why not?” Nothing was really holding me back and I had always wanted to live in another country and teach English. I spent the last summer cleaning up everything and selling off all my belongings and furniture. My daughter and her boyfriend moved into my house and will take of all things that home ownership brings.
I have always hated extreme cold, snow and ice. I am now living out my dream and loving it. Simplicity in life that brings me true joy is what life should be. My journey to Zhaoqing in all its beauty and peace is very much worth it.
Fall in Zhaoqing and fall in my backyard of my house.
Not missing it at all.