After much paperwork, waiting, and two trips to the US Embassy in Chicago, our journey to Huairou finally began on October 1, 2012.
Being here for a month and a half now, I can safely say we are all settled down and adjusted to life in China.
Our first two weeks consisted of Mike, Annamarie, Irma, and I living at a hotel, meeting many of the local leaders and teachers, getting all our paperwork straightened out, and exploring the city.
Huairou is a district with a population of 300,000 located just north of Beijing, about a 45-minute bus ride into the city. What makes Huairou unique to other cities in China is its proximity to the Great Wall and its clean environment, many trees, a fresh water reservoir, and blue skies.
Although the four of us are all teaching at different schools, we all live at Hong Luo Si Middle School. We have one dorm room for the ladies and another for the guys. I thought my dorm days were over after graduation! Guess not. =)
We spend Monday-Friday working from morning to the evening. Our main goals as foreign English teachers are to stir up excitement in the students to learn English and to improve their oral English and listening comprehension. As a result, we don’t teach grammar lessons.
Jason Hartfield ’12 in front of No. 4 Middle School in Huairou.
At the schools, we travel around to different classrooms throughout the week. For example, there are 10 seventh-grade English classes at No.4 Middle School where I teach. Each class has their regular English teacher four days of the week, and me once a week. Having hundreds of students each week has made learning names a daunting task! I’m still working on it!
In general, all four of us have adapted quickly to life in Huairou. In just this first month and a half, we have already built many friendships with the locals and continue to learn more about Chinese history and culture.
We are all looking forward to the journey ahead!
As the weeks go by, I will continue to update this blog about our time in Huairou. If you have any questions for me or the other teachers, you can send me an email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Hartfield ’12
Huairou No. 4 Middle School