In July 2014, I moved to China to teach English for a year. I teach from ages 5 to adults. It has been one of the most daring, exciting, empowering and uncomfortable experiences! Some days, I think……”Puddin, you crazy! You actually did it!” My decision wasn’t necessarily understood or supported 100% but it was mine to make. As a registered nurse, I can’t practice here. So, teaching was my entry point. I yearned to have an experience that went deeper than a visit. I wanted to learn about a culture and interact with the people. I was prepared and unprepared for the life ahead. About 70% of the Chinese I know is from staff teaching me and immersion. The remainder is from an application I use once a month. It’s been ridiculously awesome that I can understand some very basic Mandarin and respond. I’ve also learned about Chinese history and how it effects current beliefs and international relationships.
It’s been 7 months of beautiful and ugly stories of being a black foreigner in China. I specify being black rather than American for a reason. The thought process of many here is ” Her skin is black so she’s African”. When you add generalizations to the mixture, along with paparazzi behavior…. it makes me thankful I can’t understand the majority of what is said around me. I am the first black person many have seen in my little city. As a result, I strive to always be mindful, dressed nicely and polite. Whether I agree or not, I’m representing more than myself and I take pride in that fact.