Along with our suitcases, we were ready to jet off to China. At the airport in Port Hardy, on the north end of Vancouver Island, my husband and I stood anxiously at the door to the tarmac. We climbed up the metal stairs and bent slightly to fit into the belly of the aircraft. We strapped ourselves into our chosen seats and in a few minutes we blazed off into the sky. Once we had landed safely at the Vancouver International airport, we trudged our way through security and boarded a large aircraft. We flew non-stop to Shanghai, China.
Our excursion of a lifetime began in August 2005 with a confirmation phone call from our recruiter in Vancouver who told us that we’d been hired as English teachers with an organization stationed in Beijing.
Frank leaned over and kissed me on the lips. I hugged him as though I would never let him go.
“What a great gift to end up in China,” he said.
"I'd never thought in a million years that I'd be leaving on a jet plane to China," I said.
We spent two days in Changzhou, Jiangsu province, a community located 181 kilometres west of Shanghai, with eighty other English teachers. Together, we learnt what it would take to teach as many as sixty foreign students at a time. The company leader rang a bell and we all turned to face her. She announced that our transports were ready and that we were to gather up our personal things and head to our assigned destinations. Frank and I, and two other teachers would be teaching at the Yichang Number One Middle School in Yichang, Hubei Province.
Mrs. Long, the Head Teacher, and her entourage, met us at the airport with two cars. Perhaps they knew that we had all over packed. They drove us to our apartment where workers hauled our possessions to our assigned second floor apartment and another crew carried our colleagues’ suitcases to their sixth floor apartment. Afterward, we walked around the corner from the teacher’s housing complex to the front doors of the school. In Mrs. Long’s small office, she explained, through an interpreter, the rules and regulations we were expected to follow during our time with the students. We were handed a list of ten rules titled, “Directive Rules For Foreign Teachers Of Yichang No.1 Middle School.” My personal favourite was rule number ten: Love and care for students, never beat up students.
When we returned to our apartment, we unpacked most of our belongings and spread what didn’t fit into the drawers and closets onto the bed in the second bedroom. We had inherited a cozy kitchen, a shower stall and toilet combined, a living room, two bedrooms and a very large entry way. We were giddy with excitement.
“Let’s go explore our neighbourhood,” Frank said.
“Sure, let me get the camera,” I said.
We would explore as many streets and alleyways as time would allow. There seemed to be as many roads as there were people. Each day offered up a unique experience. The city was filled with over four million people and in very short order we met a wonderful pair of beautiful young girls who would end up being friends with us for the duration of our six-month stay in Yichang.
|Street scenes of Yichang, Hubei province 2005|
|School property scenes Yichang 2005|