Friday, July 13, 2007

Why China?

This is one of the most asked questions I get and it's equally difficult to answer. I've had a fascination with Asia for many years. I love the history, art, pottery, textiles and the caligraphy. I was very intrigued by Japan at one time and almost traveled there several times. I did tutor English to a Japanese family about 15 years ago. Also, I took a 10 week Japanese course - "Konichi wa. Ogenki deska?" - "Hello. How are you?" - There you have it - that's what I remember for my time and $100! And way back in high school, we had to research a country and I picked India!

But China??? Maybe it's still the Asia appeal. Maybe it's because of several adoptive parent friends who have beautiful girls from China and they just light up when speaking of their daughters' homeland? Maybe it's because a country of 1 billion+ people seems so fascinating? Maybe it's because one can't listen to the news or read the newspaper and not be affected by something in China? Maybe it's because I want my kids to learn Mandarin and have the advantages of having a third language when they need to compete as adults (with some of the same 1 billion+ people) in the job market? Maybe it's because obtaining an English teaching job is readily available? So, in the end, it's a combination of all of the above.

The number one reason is for the kids. Being language teachers, Gustavo and I can't pass up this opportunity to give the kids a true immersion language/culture experience. They are at the perfect ages of 4 and 5, young enough to grasp the intracies of the language, but not too old as to already feel self-conscious (research says the self-conscious feeling/performance anxiety can happen as young as 7 years old). However, if for some reason, they can't adjust to the surroundings and language, we'll leave China after a year (which is our minimum commitment). I'm really hoping for a 3 to 5 year stay. The kids' (and ours, too, to some extent) language skills should then be well formed. We would then provide maintenance Chinese language instruction when we return to the US or Chile. So I guess we'll see....

Though Gustavo and I don't really need any more teaching experience to add to our résumes, our time in China may possibly open a few doors in employment opportunities for us when we return. That would be a nice bonus! But a main goal is to simply enjoy and take advantage of the many offerings of this marvelous opportunity before us.

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