Amanda is currently teaching English through the China Education Initiative in the very rural town of Xintun, in the very mountainous county of Heqing, in the country of China. Amanda arrived at her school in August 2009, after a month and a half of teacher training in Beijing. She currently teaches forty-six seventh graders, eighty third graders, and herself basic spoken English and complicated English grammar. The vast majority of her students are ethnically Bai, which means that English is their third language.
After almost 10 months in Xintun, she has gotten used to the spicy food, the constant flies, and the local dialect and now believes that she lives in the most beautiful place in the world. She splits her time between teaching Michael Jackson songs and the past tense, playing games to review grammar, listening to students correct her Mandarin, biking to small villages to visit students’ families, learning how to order food in the Bai language, and generally being the go-to person for any and all bored third graders.
Even though Amanda spends most of her day teaching or planning lessons, she has learned much more this year than she has taught. She has learned how to effectively wash clothes by hand, how to explain prepositions in Chinese, and how to manage a class of forty rambunctious third graders (solution: stickers and candy). More importantly, she has learned patience and how to restrain herself from throwing snarky seventh graders out of windows, she has learned flexibility in the face of a constantly changing school schedule, and she has learned contentment. After this year in China, she has discovered that she loves teaching and hopes to continue teaching English in the future.