BGL Teachers Rock “Parent Day” in Kunshan, China

Parent Day in Asia is a big deal. The endless preparation on the part of teachers and administration can almost make us lose sight of how important it is to show parents the best of what we can do. This rehearsed display can seem trite but is essential to parents developing their trust in us. In this way, there is profound satisfaction in a job well done. Seeing firsthand parents’ heartfelt pride in their children (who, we must admit, often feel like our own) can make it feel almost like the coming together of a long lost family.

Beautiful winter paintings adorn the window of Teacher Danielle's classroom and are reminiscent of the tree-lined streets of Kunshan.

Beautiful winter paintings adorn the window of Teacher Danielle’s classroom and are reminiscent of the wintry tree-lined streets of Kunshan.

Parents, teachers and students play in XingKong's plentiful play-yard.

Parents, teachers and students play in XingKong’s plentiful play-yard.

Teacher Allison plays an English game with her students while parents happily observe.

Teacher Allison plays an English game with her students while parents happily observe.

What made this Parent Day 2016 extra special at XingKong, our kindergarten in Kunshan, China, was the collaboration displayed between our BGL teachers and their local Chinese partner teachers. When you lack a common language it is very hard to establish a functional working partnership. Our teachers had already done so to varying degrees, but with the shared vision of a successful Parent Day they employed all the tricks to get it done right – Google Translate, human translators, and even good old-fashioned pantomime.

Chinese local teacher, Sienna, rallies her troops while playing a game outside.

Chinese local teacher, Sienna, rallies her troops while playing a game outside.

The result was nothing short of fantastic. Each teacher – Chinese and American – not only planned an effective and engaging lesson, but they also helped each other deliver the content in a way that laid the foundation for a smooth and supportive partnership moving forward.

Teacher Halley models a conversation with two students while parents listen in.

Teacher Halley models a conversation with two students while parents listen in.

Chinese local teachers deliver a lesson about environmental protection - partially aimed at educating parents.

Chinese local teachers deliver a kindergarten lesson about environmental protection – partially aimed at educating parents.

We even had our share of music! Teacher Will busted out his banjo, while the requisite Chinese line dancing (in one instance to Juanes’s La Camisa Negra, which is, surprisingly, a local favorite) was a predictable hit for all the parents.

Gotta love Chinese line dancing.

Gotta love kindergarteners line dancing.

Credit must be given to our team in Taipei, Taiwan as well for their expertise and hard work presenting their very best for Parent Day at Tsai Hsing, where BGL teachers work with both kindergarten and elementary school students.

Are you (or is someone you know) thinking about teaching abroad? If so, check out our available jobs in China and Taiwan – complete with immediate openings! We are an excellent network of accomplished teachers and we are always looking for like-minded talent to join our team.

Staying Connected While Teaching Abroad: One Teacher’s Perspective

“…well, I guess you must have a touch of crazy in you to move to and live in China. But I think for some, that craziness comes in the form of strength and creativity; and in such cases, you flourish.”

During a recent semester-culminating professional development session at Xing Kong in Kunshan, China, I was asked to share with the group what I deemed to be my “happy place,” or the one time or place that I have felt “complete bliss.” Such a heartfelt question was a bit tricky for my notoriously restless soul, however my answer drew itself quite clearly: my place of happiness is not just one place at all, it is actually a feeling, an all-encompassing overwhelming that is so specific and so poignant that when it comes I get physical goosebumps. For me, nirvana is waking up and venturing out in a place that I have yet to explore, whether it be a city, village, campsite, or beach. Bliss is knowing that a truly unique moment is entirely mine and that in it, I am completely free. Euphoria is the temporary ownership of time and space to explore, get lost and indulge in all before me.

Personally, the sparkling manifestation of what my life was “supposed to look like” has evolved with changing hemispheres, nationalities and languages. I am now overtly aware that in order to balance unavoidable adulthood while simultaneously nourishing my gypsy-soul, I must have a career that allows both travel and financial stability.  This has become a reality for me while living in both Taiwan (previously) and now in China, both of which were with Banyan Global Learning schools. However, being disconnected from your everything at home while living abroad – and, more specifically, teaching abroad – is not always easy and  is even less glamorous. There are days of small triumphs and beautiful glimpses of the traceable footprint you leave behind in a culture that you will never fully understand… but there is also a creeping sense of isolation that comes with living a world away or “in the future” (as my friends in the States lovingly refer to it).

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Pudong, Shanghai Skyline

Yet, through my personal experiences I have found that much of that which is left behind stays constant as it is me who grows, changes, expands and blooms. It’s impossible to write of the excitement that ensues when you are able to plan a weekend get-away to Hong Kong or Macau, or a four-day excursion to South Korea or Singapore. In order to find honest contentment with your path and lose yourself in the adventure and constant wonderment of living abroad, it takes wrapping your mind around the fact that you won’t be gone forever (that is, if you don’t want to be).

CourtneyinHammock

Ko Phi Phi, Krabi, Thailand

One way to do this is by connecting with other expats, both at your place of work and while traveling throughout the region. Through my travels I have met some truly incredible people: explorers from all over the globe that wholeheartedly believe in and embrace the challenge of life outside of the norm; People that live and see life through a uniquely scoped lens; individuals that I admire, trust and love deeply.  The greatest gift has been meeting and loving this select group of wanderers.  They have taught me to believe in the truth and sanctity of every moment that surrounds me.  Through these relationships and the rare mirrors that they provide, I recognize the my undisguised vulnerability along with my softness to new experiences, rare cultures and unique souls. In a world where vulnerability is so quickly coupled with weakness, I choose to wear mine on my sleeve and to allow myself to be unrelinquishingly real. This, in turn, allows me to connect more genuinely with the people with whom I share these experiences.

So, as I sit here, in this lovely cafe in Xintiandi, a small pocket tucked away in the bustle of Shanghai, surrounded by locals and fellow nomads alike, I think back on and embrace the past five months of my life in China and the past 4 years working with BGL. I leave in the morning for Thailand – an adventure I have hoped for since I was a child – and then will be reunited with friends and family in the States for a few short weeks. Very few jobs that I know of offer such a substantial mid-year perk with time off to travel the globe and have your adventure-dreams come to fruition.

In retrospect, I now realize that the ultimate fortune in my adult-life came four years ago when I faithfully took a chance on a young Los Angeles-based company called Banyan Global Learning . I was promised an opportunity to teach internationally but did not realize the extent to which the experience would be defined by my connections to fellow travelers. It has indefinitely changed my life and how I see the world.
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Adorable K1 Students