Hello All,
My name is Heather Lowry, an American elementary teacher. I have been living in China for six months and am half way through a one year contract with Buckland Group. Before making my commitment to Buckland I knew that I wanted to live in China, but I was by no means an expert on Chinese culture or geography. I just knew I loved what I had heard from other people and I was
ready for an adventure. Well, I certainly have not been let down. It HAS been an adventure and everything that others had to say about Chinese natives being kind, warm-hearted and generous has also been true. I made so many friends and acquaintances and there was always someone available to help out when I had questions or concerns. Not only were the staff at my school
receiptive, but so were the locals that lived in my neighborhood. I was originally placed in the city of Guilin, a much coveted position, as it seems that most people who arrive in Yangshuo to begin their contract with the Bucklands desire living in a large city. I understand the desire to be in n environment that offers a high likelihood meeting other foreigners and Chinese individuals who speak English. The semester went smoothly and I did meet other foreigners. In fact, I created such a circle of foreign friends that my Chinese language studies fell to the background. Many individuals I met already knew Chinese and it was easy to ride on their expertise, instead of working on my own growth in the language.

This summer Jennifer Buckland placed me in a small village in Sichuan to teach a Summer Camp for three weeks. I was not sure what to expect. When I arrived I quickly discovered that I was the only foreigner in town (except for the other foreign teacher who was to arrive two days later). As my weeks went on, my love and ownership for this small community grew. The school was made of a tight-knit faculty who communicated well and ran a positive academic atmosphere. This was something I did not experience in the city school I worked at. The students were incredibly respectful and curious, another aspect I did not particularly experience in the city. But beyond the school atmosphere, the town's people were so lovely. I found myself being invited to people's homes many times during my three week stay. They too were genuinely interested and curious about whom I was. It made me feel like I really was part of the community. By the end of my teaching contract I was hooked. They pushed me hard to come back and I took them up on their offer.
I just moved back less than a week ago and it feels good. I know it is going to be a big change from the city, but it is a fresh one. I guess, what I want for you to know is that the smaller communities and villages can be just as fulfilling as being placed in the larger cities. For me, it was more fulfilling. Living in a smaller community is giving me more of an opportunity to experience real China, and that is why I came.

Heather Lowry


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