China, Educate, Introspection, Travel, Writing

Zaijian China

So, as some of you may have guessed, I have been pondering a big change for some time now.  As you know, I have not been happy here in China for a number of reasons (to read about them visit my posts entitled A Rough Start and Unabated Frustrations).  The unfortunate part is that none of the issues seem to be getting any better.  I suppose my students are learning a bit more English, or, I wonder, is it just that I have lowered my expectations drastically?

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

As of December 1, I decided, as I was turning 48 on December 5 and that life is way too short to be miserable, that I would make a change.  A big one.  This decision came after first dealing with my guilt.  I tend to be a loyal and committed person, or so I’d like to think.  But when one’s life is surrounded by such unsavouriness, is it being loyal to stay, or simply out of dogged duty?

To top it off, the air quality since I have been here has averaged around 200 AQI – The US usually tops out under 50.  With China putting 1.5 million new cars on the road monthly (according to BBC Asia), combined with all the factory exhaust in the city I live in, it is no wonder that I (and all of us foreign teachers) have an incessant cough.

But more importantly, the area that has given me the most pause is my students.  They are good kids, eager to learn, but completely at a disadvantage as they barely understand the language in which I am trying to teach them.  What they desperately need are English classes – all day long.  If my school hosted a 3 month intensive English language training camp it would change everything for them (and make us foreign teachers very happy).  But instead we are trudging through the mire of non-understanding, throwing out our content and grasping at ways to be ESL teachers on the fly.  So much for quality education.


So all this to say that I have officially resigned.  An ESL teacher is what they need, not a geographer trying desperately to teach rich humanities content to non-English speakers.  I depart with both a sad and glad heart.  Yen Yang?  Possibly.  I have made good friends here and had a bit of an insight into the realities of China, which I treasure, no matter how small my exposure has been.  Now that I have made the difficult decision, my heart (and my lungs) feel lighter just knowing my departure is imminent and that alone tells me it was the right decision.

Have a great December and I’ll be back in 2015.

8 thoughts on “Zaijian China”

  1. Gretchen,
    Happy Birthday!! You are at time in your life to make it what you need and want. You have so much more to share.

    Delighted to know you will be in the US soon.
    Please contact me!

    Best wishes and safe travels.


  2. Happy Birthday Gretchen! You have my love and support. You are an amazing, creative, committed individual and I applaud your courage in making this decision. And I hope I get to see you soon!

  3. good luck with whatever you decide. sorry it didnt work as you hoped. had you considered teaching in thailand? happy birthday

  4. Gretchen you are such a wonderful person, thoughtful and giving. All the best to you and welcome back. We hope to see you in Portland or at the beach house.

    Anne and B-Lee December 19th

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