For a while I wanted to come to China and teach, but I wanted to go somewhere that ordinarily wouldn’t have many foreign English teachers like Shanghai / Beijing etc. Through Xu Bo and GVI (Global Vision International) I found Mianyang, a town that, a few years before had suffered in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in which 70,000 people died. Although being from England, and not being able to speak a lot of mandarin I have a lot of Chinese friends through university who I learnt the culture and food from, I also learnt a bit about this in the orientation week in Shanghai, where I got to meet the other volunteers who were going to Mianyang and the other volunteers who were teaching in other places. 

After this we flew to Mianyang, which is about the same size as what a ‘small city’ would be classed as in England. From then on I taught English to children aging between 5-16 years old, it was great fun and I pretty much incorporated everything I enjoyed doing at school into the methods I was using to teach them such as games, pictures, and songs. The teachers were also a real help; I taught a group of 5-6 year old children a song from a band I like which has really simple lyrics. From just writing the words on the board and telling the children one of the lines “hello, hello, I say hello to you” the teacher had made up actions for it and the rest of the song!

I was in Mianyang for a total of 3 months, I taught at the Mianyang Children’s palace/paradise for 2 months and then at a local primary school for the final month., For the first month the volunteers were mainly from America, The second month a variety of volunteers from across Europe and in the final month I was alone at the primary school, but this didn’t matter as I had made so many Chinese friends I was never really alone!

The children’s palace took some time getting used to, but It was fine, as the other staff & teachers always tried to help us with any problems we had, and we had breakfast delivered every morning and air conditioning and a water machine in the room as well as internet access.

Mianyang itself is a brilliant city, everyone is so friendly and there are lots of shops (including some western ones you will recognise…) and lots of things to do, if you like Martial arts, Music, arcade games etc

Whilst In Mianyang I also got involved with other groups and people and went on various trips to ‘places of interest’ around Mianyang such as Beichuan, a town severely hit by the 2008 earthquake, I also taught at a few kindergartens, and even gave a few children there very first English lesson, just teaching them very basic things such as ‘hello’, ’goodbye’ and ‘my name is’ etc. I also regularly met with the local ‘English corner’ to help university students practice their English.

There were bad parts, but they aren’t even worth mentioning, as the good parts were so good! Overall, I had a brilliant 3 months, and I enjoyed China so much I have changed my plans for this academic year to learn Chinese and then go back to Mianyang next year! Thank you Xu Bo for this great opportunity!