Break out the Chopsticks!
I really, really, honestly do plan to continue my series on Dumb Doras, but once again, life has stepped in and left me unable to do so for another week. Sorry, folks! So, I’ve decided to cheat on this post and not write about writing, stories, or anything even remotely literary. This week, with a head overflowing with stress, excitement, and worry, I just don’t have the energy to write such a post. Since I’m going through some tremendous life changes that may affect how often I’m able to blog in the future, I’m instead going to let you in on the latest developments in the Life of Stephanie (a drumroll would be appropriate here):
I’m moving to China in three and a half weeks. Seriously. It’s been a lengthy process, one which officially began back in January, although I can honestly say that my entire twenty-seven years of life have been preparing me for this. However, even with advance preparations, the past few weeks and the next few are really crammed and uber-stressful. I’m so excited that I could probably fly there right now on my own energy and enthusiasm, sans airplane. I’m also stressed, worried, scared, and a whole host of other emotions. And I haven’t finished the “delightful” visa process yet!
What will I be doing in China? For at least the next two years, I’ll be teaching high school history and SAT prep and junior high public speaking at a phenomenal international school in the beautiful and historic city of Qingdao, located on the Shandong Peninsula in northeast China. The name may sound familiar to you if you happened to catch the 2008 Beijing Olympics — it’s where the sailing events were held. Qingdao is also famous because it is actually a German city in China, complete with old German architecture and the world famous Tsingtao beer (Chinese German beer). The city has both mountains and sea, and is one of the cleanest in China (still polluted compared to where I’ve lived in the USA, but nevertheless quite stunning). The school is a gorgeous collection of about 70% Korean students, and a mixture of American, European, and other Asians making up the other 30%.
Will I still be contributing to this blog after I depart the USA on June 21? I intend to, though it might not be easy. China is famous for the “Great Firewall of China,” which randomly blocks various sites, from YouTube, to Facebook, to various blogs. With my VPN, I should be able to still access this blog and continue contributing. If it winds up still blocked, which can happen even with the best VPNs, I’ll try to email in my posts. If you’re interested in my adventures abroad and in the classroom, you can follow the fun at www.historygypsy.com.
What made me choose China? Quite simply, my heart is in Asia, and has been for the past few years (ever since I went to Korea). It is a beautiful, wondrous continent full of some of the most incredible people I have ever met. The students are unlike any other, and have an eagerness and studiousness that you simply cannot find in the USA. The history and cultures are fascinating. Although I have loved Asia for a few years now, my love for China is more recent (but no less powerful). The best part about my new life there is that I will have the best of two beloved worlds: I’ll be living in and experiencing China, but I’ll be interacting primarily with Koreans. My students will be much older than most of those that I had in Korea, but I’m quite happy with that change: as much as I adore young children, high schoolers are my favorite age range to teach.
Where in the world am I right now? I’m currently in Houghton, New York (basically, the middle of nowhere), where I’m doing New Staff Orientation and Pre-Field Orientation. It has been tremendously exciting for the past few days to meet and get to know not only a few of my new coworkers and my principal, but also numerous other like-minded individuals headed for other Chinese cities. Today, our China group is joining with other teachers who teach internationally. We’ll all be together for the next twelve days, discussing and learning about the best methods for teaching cross-culturally and sharing about our respective schools. It’s going to be a blast! Last night at dinner, a few of us who are headed for China got to know two teachers headed for different areas of Kenya. It’s so neat to hear the different stories and discover just how much we all have in common. For one thing, we’re all really passionate about our calling to teach overseas. We also all love children and teenagers. The majority of us have traveled internationally in the past.
Have I completely lost my mind? Nope; I’m just one of those very fortunate people who actually get to live out their dream. It hasn’t been (and will never be) easy; I’ve had to make plenty of sacrifices. There have been heart-wrenching goodbyes, the worst of which was having to part with my dear Lantern Hollow Press family. I’ve had to sell or give away more than half of my worldly possessions (honestly, I’m not terribly materialistic, so that really didn’t bother me much at all). I’m having to part with both of my beloved dogs. I have to back out of a very close friend’s wedding. I have to assess exactly what possessions are worth fitting into suitcases and what things can be done without. There is plenty of sting to leaving, even pain, but every prick or sorrow brings me that much closer to a country I already love deeply and a dream that motivates me unlike any other. In the midst of all of it (the stress, the fears, the worry, the goodbyes . . . ) there is the calm and abiding assurance that I am doing what I am supposed to do, going where I am meant to go, and perhaps fulfilling the purpose for which I was born.
And perhaps I just might find myself a dragon. After all, where better to look than China?
Posted on June 26, 2011, in Stephanie Thompson and tagged 2008 Olympics, Asia, Beijing, China, chopsticks, HistoryGypsy, Lantern Hollow Press, living overseas, moving to China, Qingdao, Shandong Peninsula, South Korea, Stephanie Thompson, teaching in China, teaching overseas, travel. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.