- Harrison Bach | Western Michigan University Alumni
Going East - More than I could've ever imagined!
Before making the move to my new home and life in China, I experienced a flurry of emotions: stress, confusion, excitement, a joy for something new. All my friends and family were expressing their opinions to me, telling me all the assumed pros and cons that someone who’s never been to China would have. Upon boarding my international flight from the U.S. to China, I hadn’t the slightest clue what was about to happen. Not knowing any Chinese or frankly too much at all about the cultural experience to come, I just kept my positivism and was open to whatever was about to happen. 18 hours of air travel later, I was just scratching the surface of the most amazing and life changing experience to come. Teaching and working with kids wasn’t something foreign to me, but in a literal sense I was extremely foreign to my classes. Within a class or two, everyone becomes comfortable with you, the setting, the language, and their classmates, from thereon out, everything moves along extremely well. Working with my Chinese students, the most amazing thing was recognizing how fun they all were, and at the end of the day they are just so happy to work with you. Whether it was inside or outside of the class, everyone I had the opportunity to connect with were just so sincere and excited to be able to interact and work with you, an experience that I’ve never felt to such a degree in the States. Upon arrival in the city of Changsha, I was greeted with open arms by my school’s liaison, that made the time to pick me up at 1 a.m. while juggling numerous other task. He helped me get my bearings, and set me up for all the success to come. The only real hard part at this point, was to gain the courage to get out and explore by myself. After learning the ways of the transportation system, every time I’d go out was a new adventure; meeting new friends, exploring new places, trying delicious new food, everything felt so surreal and wonderful. After a week and a half of learning where I’m located in China, I was ready to start my classroom duties. When reflecting on my time here and the most important elements, it really came down to the fear of the initial move, the amazing and relieving arrival to my home in China, and the wonderful interactions that were to come inside and out of the school I was working with. Those three elements are really just the skeleton, and what you end up doing to fill the rest of this experience in, just comes down to you. In between working and exploring my city, I’ve made lifelong friends, traveled more places in Asia than I ever had in North America, and ate the best food of my life. When thinking about it, there’s no good way to sum up all the fun I had in one paper, but the best advice I can really say if you are doubting yourself is, “JUST DO IT” (Nike 1988).
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