--From Adrew Grady

After graduating university last year I wanted to come to China. I was interested in teaching English in China because this would give an opportunity to live and work in China. Most important to me was that I work in a school that had some experience with foreign teachers. I did not want to get stuck in a school that I was not happy in. I also wanted to make sure that if a problem arose there was someone I could talk to straighten it out. This was especially important if I had a problem in the school; that there was someone outside of the school for me to talk to about it.

After searching carefully on the internet for several months, I found the Buckland International Education Group (BIEG). BIEG works as a middleman connecting foreign teachers looking for positions in China with Chinese schools looking for foreign English teachers. BIEG is advantageous for several reasons. First, BIEG is a large company; it is not a fly-by-night organization and has an established reputation working with foreign teachers. Consequently, it is in the company's best interest to treat the foreign teachers well, as a bad reputation could hurt their business. Second, it works with a large variety of schools. This gives the foreign teacher some leeway in terms of where they will teach and at what level. Most of the schools are centered in Guangxi province, one of the most beautiful in China, but there are also schools in Guangdong, Jiangxi, and Shandong. Third, the staff of BIEG is genuinely concerned with the well being of the foreign teachers that come to China. They understand that an unhappy teacher is a bad teacher.

I have been working in China for almost six months and plan to sign an additional one- year contract. Working in China is different than working in the USA, so it has taken some getting used to. I would say the most important attributes for a foreign teacher coming to China are flexibility and being open to cultural differences. We must realize that it is not the duty of China to change its culture for us but rather for us to acclimate ourselves to Chinese culture. I remember at the end of my first week of teaching, the teachers I was instructing casually invited me to a party the next night. I was told to show up around 7:30 pm. My idea was that this was to be a small gathering for the faculty. Never being to a Chinese party, I imagined it to be much the same as an American one; chatting around drinks and snacks. Much to my embarrassment when I arrived fashionably late around 8pm, one of the teachers was waiting in the rain for me at the school gate. She hurried me into the school auditorium where I had a front row seat. They had been waiting for me to start. The school principal proceeded to the stage, welcoming me and giving me a gift. What followed was an elaborate program with costumed dances, singing, stories, and a play. The whole time I felt rather red, being late to a function where I was a guest of honor, and thinking that, clearly if I had known what to expect, what the party would be, it would not have happened. Obviously, the school, never being to an American party, had no idea what I expected either.

After the end of my first few months, Owen Buckland, President of BIEG, asked me to write about his company and if I would recommend it to other foreign teachers. Undoubtedly, I would. China is a wonderful place; stunning scenery, a fascinating culture, a rich history, and people who are so friendly you can make a new friend whenever you leave your home. Traveling in China is fun, but living in China is amazing. Teaching is a respected profession and everyone is grateful that you are helping Chinese students learn English, and not just touring through their country. Working with BIEG is also great. It has given me an opportunity to meet other foreign teachers and also visit several different cities. So help yourself, help others.


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