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First week in Shandan – Jane Furkert (Sept 2014)

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Jane Furkert, ‘our’ next teacher at Shandan Bailie School, has sent us her first report (see below).  Jane, who is a member of Nelson Branch of the New Zealand China Friendship Society, is widely travelled and has previously taught English in Bulgaria and France. This will be her first time in China.  Jane expects to do the whole school year (September to May) in Shandan, teaching English to 14-18 year-olds and learning more about China’s geography, history and culture… 

“I have just completed my first week as the foreign English Teacher at Shandan Bailie School.  It is the first week of term for the students too – several thousand of them coming back to school after their summer holidays.  About half the students board here, which means there is a great cafeteria, where I can eat with them.

All the students and staff (group in the foreground) do morning exercises.  Copyright: Jane Furkert
All the students and staff (group in the foreground) do morning exercises.

“My apartment is on the school grounds, in an apartment block with other teachers.  It looks out over the school running track and exercise area, so I watch the students in the morning – in formation, running around the track, then doing exercises.  It’s an interesting sight, I’m learning the routine before I join in next week.  They don’t do it in the rain – and it’s rained twice since I’ve been here!  A traditionally dry climate, means a heavy downpour was enough to flood the streets in town with pedestrians placing bricks to step on and try and balance above the water!  By the next day it is sunny again and back to a balmy 28C.

“In this week I taught 4 different classes, for two-hour lessons.  My first one was at 8am on Monday morning – a challenge for me as well as the students, on their first day at school!

My apartment is on the 3rd floor of this building, at Shandan Bailie School.  Note the numerous solar water heaters on the roof.  Copyright: Jane Furkert
My apartment is on the 3rd floor of this building, at Shandan Bailie School. Note the numerous solar water heaters on the roof.

“The goal is conversational English, so I think of many different ways to get them talking.  I have only 2 boys, all the rest are girls, about 35 per class: apparently girls are more likely to use their English skills when they become primary school teachers.  They range from 15-19 years old.

“I have bought an old single-speed bicycle, so I am mobile – on the weekend I went to visit Nanhu Park, which my students had mentioned as one of their favourite places to go.  The previous teacher, Natalie, is quite a lot taller than me.  So I didn’t have a hope of getting on her bicycle!”

Jane Furkert