After taking a six-month vacation to enjoy the newest edition to our family, I’ve been lucky enough to get a position in Guangzhou, China as a Senior English Language Fellow with the EL Fellow Program, a program that is funded by the Department of State and run by Georgetown. It promotes English language learning but placing educators like myself in different institutions in over 50 countries around the world.
With so many possibilities, Josephine and I decided that we would let fate decide our destiny, and when I applied, we said that we’d go anywhere… Well, “anywhere” with a few exceptions. We didn’t want to return to the Gulf, since we had just come from there, and I wasn’t particularly interested in going to Russia. I’m not sure why, maybe it’s the cold winters. Anyhow, as it turns out, we got my wife’s number one pick, China. Thankfully, it wasn’t the ELF posting in Changchun, which is up in the Northeastern part of the country near North Korea; I just couldn’t handle the weather up there. Instead, we got assigned to a city right on the Tropic of Cancer with weather more appropriate for a couple who had just returned from Saudi Arabia.
Guangzhou is in the South, a couple hours away from Hong Kong, and we accepted the position as soon as it was offered, without knowing anything about the city. I must confess my ignorance. I had never heard of Guangzhou, though I had heard of it as Canton, so I guess I was only half ignorant. Seeing as it is the 3rd largest city in China and over 12 million people live there, there’s an awful lot of people who have heard of it.
I’m starting a 30 hour journey to get there tomorrow, and hopefully my wife and son, Josephine and Stefan, will be joining me in just a few weeks. I don’t like the idea of traveling without them, but visa issues trump personal wants and needs. In the meantime, I’ll be starting my job with South China Normal University, where I will be helping to train K-12 English teachers around the Guangdong Province. I’ll be blogging here to share my experiences teaching, eating, and struggling with Cantonese and Mandarin.