Interview Series: Teaching While Black in China!
I know, I know. . . It has been a while since I did an interview!
This month I had the pleasure of interviewing Jennie. A beautiful sister that is living and teaching in Beijing, China. In this interview, she is sharing her experience being a single, Black woman living and teaching in China!
If you want to follow more of Jennie, you can follow her on IG @Jusbelle!
Q1: Hi Jennie! Tell us a bit about yourself. Where you are from and how you ended up in China?
A1: I was born in the Bahamas, Freeport but my parents are from Haiti, so I consider myself Haitian. I have lived in South Florida my whole life. I graduated from Florida State University with a BS in Education then received my Masters in Reading Education and Autism. I love working with special needs children.
So how did I end up in China? Well after I received my Masters I was working as an ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis ) therapist doingprivate in-home therapy for children with the Autism. All while still trying to past my teaching certification, which for the record, I took five times!
I was beginning to worry that I would never teach or have a well-paid job.I decided to fast and ask God to guide me in the right direction. Something told me to start applying abroad to ESL (English as a Second Language) jobs, having never worked with ESL students before. The process went great, and I landed a job in China!
Now, once I got to China is another story in itself. . .
Q2: Uh oh.. So what happened once you reached China?
A2: There are a lot of horror stories about teaching in China specifically. Whelp, that is where I was! My school was in South China, about two from Hong Kong. My students are what kept me going.
First off I was the first black person this town had EVER SEEN! The stares were intenseI I did not mind the pictures or them touching my hair; some people beg to differ. In my opinion, it is not their fault that they are sheltered and curious. They had no clue and living in a Communists country did not help.
Well at my school I was the only Foreign teacher there (don't forget only black in a small town). When they were not showing me off to everyone they could, my classes were canceled without any notification because "Chinese is more important.” They were changing my grades to satisfy the Chinese parents, there was no support from Administration, no discipline in the school, and always taking the students side.
I stayed because of my students, and I know this was the job I prayed it. As awful as it was, I would not take it back. I learned so much from that year as a teacher and made an incredible friend.
Q3: What would be your advice for people considering teaching overseas (in China specifically) being a person of color?
A3: Do it! There is so much more to the world than America! Don't take it personally; the stares, gossip, pictures and judgments. Take it all in, travel, eat, and be open to meeting new people. Please research the country you want to live in, even visit of possible. It all depends on what you are looking for and want to do. A lot of schools are not honest, but there are some good ones. My current school now in Beijing is out of a fairy tale book! Join different groups on Facebook and other social networks and make friends.
Q4: If people want to learn more about teaching overseas, what are some great resources to consider?
A4: Follow different bloggers, tumblers, IG, Facebook they are very insightful and give good ideas.
Q5: So what is one of the CRAZIEST stories you have from living in China?
A5: Well this didn't happen in China, but I was on break and went to Cambodia (which is one the best places I ever visited). I went on a floating village tour. It was my friend and me, the captain and our tuk-tuk driver. On one of the stops, we ended up at someone’s house. As we sit down, here comes 30 men saying sexual comments to us and trying to force us to drink and try to do drugs! I was HORRIFIED!
We asked to leave, and he (the tour Captain) said NO! I thought they would rape us and throw up in the water. By God’s Grace, he agreed and took us back to the port. Advice no private tours of the floating village in Cambodia, supposedly they do that to everyone.
Rachel: That’s wild! I find it interesting that you loved Cambodia. It is probably my least favorite country in the world, and I did not have that type of experience! That person in general just rubbed me the wrong way, especially coming from Thailand where the people are exceptionally friendly.
Q6: How long do you think you will be in China? Or teaching overseas?
A6: I have a two-year contract with my job, once it's done… I'm on the first thing smoking out it here! Australia, Spain, Dubai maybe be next. I doubt I go back to America.
Q7: How has dating been out there? Do you think it's a factor in limiting people from wanting to live and teach overseas?
Q7: I haven't been trying here, but it seems like everyone just want their Papers (to become USA, European, or Australian citizens) lol. It's possible I'm sure.
Q8: What are some valuable life lessons you have learned being overseas?
A8: There’s always a rainbow after the storm, put God first and trust Him and all things are possible. It will be hard at first but in the end, it's all worth it. You can make friends in the most difficult situations.
Q9: What are some things you do for fun and entertainment? How do you meet people and friends?
Q9: In WeChat there are a lot of different groups. I am from the Islands, so I like Island music and food. So we create and go to different events and have meet-ups. I go to shows, concerts, and festivals they have in Beijing. I meet people through different friends, church, the subway! Being Black is the minority here (obviously), so when you see another Black person you get excited! We usually ask, “Are you in the ‘Black people in Beijing group’? Let’s hang!” Lol
Q10: If we want to follow your adventures, where can we find you on Social Media? (IG, Twitter, blog, etc.)
A10: On IG @Jusbelle. I'm not a good writer so no blog.
Any teachers abroad or thinking about teaching abroad? What has been your experiences?
Until next time... journey on!