Our three years teaching experience in China--Ryn & Lyn

My wife and I have worked in China for three years and would like to share a few experiences, in particular our experience with The Buckland Group.

It is an easy thing to see China as a tourist but you experience the real China by woking here. As a teacher you are really in the thick of things, you will see and get to know the way ordinary Chinese people live.

Having tried to do it yourself method, I can tell you this has landed us on an island 48 km's from the nearest town. Feeling isolated and in a lot of trouble, with no heating, computer, or telephone and nowhere to turn for help. Without someone like Owen Buckland who inspects schools before you go there you can end up in a mess. Our first agent left us with no training or back up, just dumped in a school never to be seen again, the sink or swim method.

There are always problems living in an alien culture and you need someone to check out the problems before they happen and be there when you need help. I was given a mobile phone by the school we teach at now, I know that I can ring the staff at Buckland or the school any time and get help or advice. Chinese people are very helpful but without the language you can be a bit stuck, ringing a staff member and handing the phone to a Chinese person can solve many problems.

Chinese schools themselves are very honest and stick to contracts meticulously, however some of them have little idea of how to look after foreign teachers. This is why you need someone to act on your behalf, to explain how best they can treat their new teachers and what their needs are. Chinese people can thrive without hot water, heating, computer access, DVD's and so on but after a days work you need some of these little luxuries to relax and feel at home.

The school we are working at presently is in a small town called Tou Jiang in Hunan Province. It has many karst (limestone) mountains with caves and crystal clear rivers. The people are always helpful in these small less developed areas. The school here is very generous we have been shopping for bikes the best in town, computers, mobile phones and almost anything we can think of. We have been taken to lakes, caves, rivers, mountains and nearby towns. All in the school car, with heaps of food, beer and good company.

Last week after returning late at night from another town the bus driver and conductress went into a huddle discussing Australians. When the bus stopped and everyone got off our baggage was taken off and put into a new four wheel drive, we were taken home right to our door, who the driver was we will never know, it's just an example of how total strangers look after you here.

On one occasion we went into a restaurant, it seemed full of guests having banquets, finally two chairs were produced and we sat at someone's table. After a great meal I pulled out my wallet "it's all been paid for by your host" one of them said in the little English he knew. Who our host was I
never really found out, we have had many meals paid for by people we didn't know.

Even in Beijing, when a taxi driver spent a very long time helping us find the right bus in a huge bus station ,I gave him twenty yuan about ten minutes later he got on the bus with ten yuan change. I have never had change given under such circumstances in any other country.

I know a lot of people who think of coming to China worry about their safety, we have traveled in most Asian counties and this is by far the safest. In particular, outside of the tourist centers the people will treat you as honored guests. They never rip you off and always treat you fairly.

If you're thinking about coming to China, stop thinking just come, you will learn a lot about a country which has at this time in history the future of the world in its hands.

We have found The Buckland Group great to work for, they run their business more like a family, built on service and reputation, not just a money making enterprise. They are easy to talk to and always act with your interests in mind.

Ray and Lyn Boggon.


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