Teaching in Asia Profile: Kristina Sherman
Name: Kristina Sherman, CSB Alumna '06
School: Southwest University 西南大学
City, Country: Beibei, Chongqing P.R. China
Major/Minor: Liberal Studies/ Asian Studies
Email: [email protected]
How did you decide to teach in Asia? After studying abroad in Beibei I knew I wanted to go back to China and experience the culture again. One short semester was not enough. Teaching was the best option for me to go there and live after graduation. It also allows me to study the Chinese language.
How is your program designed (how often do you teach, living arrangements, what is your daily schedule)? Every week I teach 9 classes (each 80 minutes). I teach post-graduate non-english major classes. Each class is two 40 minute periods. I teach from 8 until 12 Monday thru Thursday with an hour break in the middle. On Friday I teach one class at 8 for 80 minutes. Most days I go to eat with students or other foreign teachers on campus. Most of us live in the same apartment building off campus. Although we live in the same building we all have our own rooms that have a bedroom, living room, wash room and small kitchen. The apartment comes with all the basic furniture you need, including a bed, desk, chair and computer. It is very comfortable and safe. In the afternoon when I am free I spend my time reading, studying Chinese, exercising, and enjoying the community and small city atmosphere while shopping or walking around campus. Life is very slow and simple in Beibei, but that is one of the things I love most about it here.
Describe a memorable experience in the classroom: Where do I even begin. This is my second year of teaching for Southwest University. Last year I taught at the attached middle school, while this year I teach in the post-graduate department. The two experiences are completely different but wonderful. Some of the most memorable experiences happen outside of the classroom while interacting with students. But in the classroom, I always enjoy giving my students an open ended task and watching their ideas grow from that. For example, recently I gave my students different situations (ie: witness a robbery). Then I tell the students to create a dialogue and skit based on the situation. It is always so interesting to see what they come up with and how the situation develops in their groups. Some of the skits are quite memorable. But any day that both myself and my students are laughing, and learning is memorable.
What advice do you have for students who are considering teaching in Asia? Do it! At first Asia feels like a distant land and so foreign, but it is completely worth the experience. It is challenging, rewarding and everyday you learn something about China, America and yourself. It is a great opportunity to grow and figure out what avenue is next in your life while creating lifelong friends and memories. Don't worry about having experience or teaching too much, everyone teaches Oral English differently and you will figure that out along the way. I still am continuing to learn which lessons work and don't work. Most importantly if you care and work hard to help even a handful of students improve english while here it will be worthwhile.
What should underclassmen be doing now to prepare for a career in Asia? The biggest thing you can do is prepare yourself individually. Make yourself marketable for a career in Asia be it studying an Asian language, history, culture or business. Asia is the land of opportunities. Although teaching is a likely occupation, there are endless other avenues to explore. Make connections, talk to people and companies who might have their foot in Asia already, and just dive in. Living here and teaching can develop into opportunities and occupations you may have never foreseen.