Experience of living and working at Xingmeng School

Amy, Cathy, Caroline and I have been teaching in Xingmeng School since Spetember 2002 and will stay until August 2003. We have been here for eight months now.

Buckland Group has been very good to us since our arrival and have helped us with any enquiries we have made. They have been very honest and trustworthy.

Pingyi is a small city in Shandong, not too far from Qufu. The town is surrounded by mountains and is a really nice place to go for cycles in the countryside. We are the second group of foreigners to have taught here and because it is not a tourist town the locals are still very much intrigued by
our presence! The local people are generally very nice and very friendly. Pingyi is a good place to go to in order to see how the majority of people in China live. Many of the students are from the countryside and have never heard of places like McDonalds etc and it is a place that has experienced little western influence. It is a fairly quiet town, during the day it is filled with the hustle and bustle of workers while at night most are tucked up in bed by 10pm! Pingyi is in quite
a convenient location for travelling while on breaks from work - it is on a major train line and has nightly trains to Beijing and Zhengzhou(Henan Province).

Xingmeng School
The school is five years old and increased in size enormously last year. There are approximately 4,000 students between the primary and middle schools. It is a public boarding school. The students of Xingmeng are not too different from students at home! They are generally very friendly and very courteous. Classes are big, ranging from an average of 45 in the primary school and 60 in the junior school. We teach for ten days straight followed by four days off and teach 24 classes each over ten days. Prior to the Winter holiday we taught 40 classes over ten days.

We are often invited to give open classes in neighbouring schools. This is often done on our days off. During the morning we give open classes and in the afternoon we are taken to see local places of interest. It is a good way to see the surrounding area and meet many new people.

The headmaster, Mr Hu, and Vice-Headmaster, Mr Han, have been extremely good to us, have always treated us with respect and have become quite good friends. There are 22 english teachers here with varying levels of english, depending on the level they teach. Prior to the Winter Holiday we saw much of the english teachers and they were generally helpful and friendly. Now we are coming towards the student's exams so they are very busy and we do not see much of them anymore.

The school has very good facilities, with a tv in most classrooms, a newly renovated playground, library, meeting hall, computer room etc. Our apartment is in a building which houses many other teachers. We have received everything we were promised - internet, microwave, decent shower,
giant tv and dvd player, air conditioner, washing machine etc and the appartment has been newly furnished. However, we never received any Mandarin lessons, and as everyone is keen to practice their spoken English with us we have found it very difficult to learn to speak the language. As a result, we are forced to rely on translations by the English teachers when we want to speak to the leaders.

In general, Pingyi is a good place to come if you are interested in seeing how people live in rural China. The four of us came here as friends and that really has helped. Most people here have no english and it can get very lonely at times. Many of the students are very friendly and we receive much of our information on the school and the town from them! I know that there are some that I will keep in contact with when I leave.

If you are interested in coming to Pingyi or just want to make general enquiries about teaching in China please feel free to email me. I would be very happy to answer any questions you may have.




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