Tongzi Number One School
Andrew and Brynna Baynard
25th of June 2017
Tongzi No. 1 High School, also known as Yi Jong, is a fairly laid back school. The Headmaster, Mister Li, is very friendly but you will not see him often. You will meet him 1 time at about 1 month into teaching for a nice dinner, and likely never see him again except in his office. The primary person you will answer to is Mr. Jiang, a straight-shooting vice principal who will occasionally shadow your classes.
There are 3 main grade levels at Yi Zhong, Senior 1-3. Senior 1 is are the youngest students, and Senior 3 are the oldest. You will only teach either Senior 1 or Senior 2, as Senior 3 is preparing for the Chinese GaoKao exam. You will teach either 20 or 22 classes a week, and if you teach 22 you will get paid overtime for the extra 2 classes. You will usually teach from 10:40am-12:10pm, and then from 2:45pm-5:05pm Monday-Friday.
You can teach anything you want to. This is great if you want to do your own lesson planning and be highly independent, but it is more difficult for teachers who want the school to provide structure. Teaching the students here is a balance between maintaining interest in your lessons and teaching actual material. Do not bother asking for their English book, the school does not have extra copies and if you get a copy you will quickly realize it is not what you wanted. You will likely get their Chinese English book, their old English book, or the Buckland book that the students do not even have or use. So be prepared to create lots of lessons plans using your own creative abilities and Bob's website.
The dormitory you will live in is decent, split into two rooms and a kitchenette. The teacher's dormitories are part of the students' dormitories. Your room is a large dormitory room with a small toilet/shower room. One room has a sink that you can use for brushing your teeth and the other room has the washing machine. Both room connect to the shared kitchenette. There is an open metal gate at one end of the kitchen serving as the main door to your flat.
The school has finally finished its construction that lasted 5 years! There is a brand-new playground with a track, a soccer field, five basketball courts and a dozen ping-pong tables. Your students will often ask you to take them outside. We chose to do 2 outside lessons per term during our two years here. If you take the students outside too often they will not be attentive during the serious lessons. So be careful about spoiling them, but make sure to have fun as well.
If you have any problems with anything, there is your FAO, Mr. Jiang, but he is often much too busy to help you. BUT, there is Mr. Jiang's assistant, Bobo (Yuen Bo), who is absolutely great and will help you with anything he can. Bobo is a fellow English teacher and therefore has no authority and cannot help you with any issues with the school or your housing without Mr. Jiang's permission. Outside of official things, Bobo is your best resource for everything. He will help you find your way around town, find the nearest banks, and the supermarkets, etc. Make sure to become friends with Bobo because he is an absolutely invaluable resource for you while living here. Also, your best experiences in Tongzi will be with Bobo. He will likely invite you out with friends and to see the countryside. Just be prepared, when Chinese people invite you out for lunch, you often do not get home until midnight. Here is Bobo!
Tongzi is a very nice city although it is very dirty from all of the construction. The people here are extremely friendly, but no one can speak any English. You must learn Chinese in order to do most things in the city. I also suggest using a smart phone with a translator if you get frustrated. The school is extremely secure and you do not even need to lock your door unless you want to. If you lose your phone, do not panic, just ask Bobo or a student to call your phone and explain that your phone is lost to the person who answers and you will be able to retrieve your phone within the day. There is extremely little crime in Tongzi, and you will feel safe walking around at night. Also, the school locks the gate at 11pm every night, but if you make friends with the guards and let them know you when you will be back, they will stay up for you. Also, here is a picture of the famous mountain at the front of your new hometown.
The most important thing to know about Tongzi is that they eat Red Pepper, called La Jiao, on everything. If you do not have a hot-pepper tolerance, this will be a very difficult thing for you to adjust to. They eat this in many forms, but the most common is a a red powder that they sprinkle on food more than Westerners use salt. Also, every time you are invited out to eat you will be expected to drink a lot of alcohol called Bijou, similar to Moonshine. Since you are the guest, everyone will want to drink with you. The food in Tongzi is delicious we both found a little Apple Cider Vinegar (which you can buy from Walmart in Zunyi) will help your stomach a lot.
There is a lot of stuff to do around Tongzi as well. There is a big mountain that you can hike up with a beautiful view. There is a Buddhist/Taoist temple on a hill nearby. You can take a buss to Lou Shan Guan which is an amazing place to hike up and has a museum about Mao Tsedong. Also, the big city of Zunyi is 20min away by train, and there is tons of stuff to do there. In Zunyi is a Walmart where you can buy many western foods like peanut butter, cashews, cheese, butter, etc. and the capital (Guiyang) is 40min away by train , Chongqing is 1 hour away by train .
Well, to sum it up. If you like spending time with students and friends, having an awesome local guy help you with stuff, delicious food, really friendly people, and freedom in the class room, you hit the jackpot. Welcome to Tongzi!
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