My name is Heather Lowry, an American elementary teacher.
I have been living in China for six months and am half
way through a one year contract with Buckland Group. Before
making my commitment to Buckland I knew that I wanted
to live in China, but I was by no means an expert on Chinese
culture or geography. I just knew I loved what I had heard
from other people and I was
ready for an adventure. Well, I certainly have not been
let down. It HAS been an adventure and everything that
others had to say about Chinese natives being kind, warm-hearted
and generous has also been true. I made so many friends
and acquaintances and there was always someone available
to help out when I had questions or concerns. Not only
were the staff at my school
receiptive, but so were the locals that lived in my neighborhood.
I was originally placed in the city of Guilin, a much
coveted position, as it seems that most people who arrive
in Yangshuo to begin their contract with the Bucklands
desire living in a large city. I understand the desire
to be in n environment that offers a high likelihood meeting
other foreigners and Chinese individuals who speak English.
The semester went smoothly and I did meet other foreigners.
In fact, I created such a circle of foreign friends that
my Chinese language studies fell to the background. Many
individuals I met already knew Chinese and it was easy
to ride on their expertise, instead of working on my own
growth in the language.
This summer Jennifer Buckland placed me in a small village
in Sichuan to teach a Summer Camp for three weeks. I was
not sure what to expect. When I arrived I quickly discovered
that I was the only foreigner in town (except for the
other foreign teacher who was to arrive two days later).
As my weeks went on, my love and ownership for this small
community grew. The school was made of a tight-knit faculty
who communicated well and ran a positive academic atmosphere.
This was something I did not experience in the city school
I worked at. The students were incredibly respectful and
curious, another aspect I did not particularly experience
in the city. But beyond the school atmosphere, the town's
people were so lovely. I found myself being invited to
people's homes many times during my three week stay. They
too were genuinely interested and curious about whom I
was. It made me feel like I really was part of the community.
By the end of my teaching contract I was hooked. They
pushed me hard to come back and I took them up on their
I just moved back less than a week ago and it feels good.
I know it is going to be a big change from the city, but
it is a fresh one. I guess, what I want for you to know
is that the smaller communities and villages can be just
as fulfilling as being placed in the larger cities. For
me, it was more fulfilling. Living in a smaller community
is giving me more of an opportunity to experience real
China, and that is why I came.
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