To help promote and market Filipino teachers to Chinese students, it was decided that two participants from the Philippines would be picked to do some activities with different schools from different cities and provinces in China. After a grueling selection process, Site Supervisor Eric and Head Teacher Andee were selected to represent the PH Team going forward. After spending several weeks, almost a month, in China, both Eric and Andee had a lot to share about their experiences.
First, talking about China in general, both Eric and Andee shared that they found many misconceptions about China and the Chinese people. Unlike the generalization that the Chinese were not friendly, they were surprised at the level of hospitality, generosity, and friendliness that the Chinese showed, especially to foreigners. Both of them also got overwhelmed with how enthusiastic their newfound friends and colleagues were when it comes to treating them to meals and drinks. They learned that when somebody offers to be your guide to a place, that person will also often be the one to pay for the bill. They were also able to see the differences between a large city like Beijing, and the countryside, due to their frequent trips to the partnered training centers in different provinces where they had their promotional and marketing activities.
Andee said that she learned that each province had its own specialty or delicacy, such as roast duck, more commonly called the Beijing duck or Peking duck for Beijing, or the Szechuan hotpot for Szechuan, while Eric learned that you should never say no to somebody offering you good things, like food. Andee also shared that she was able to visit many interesting and beautiful places, like the Forbidden City, the Palace Museum, the National Museum, and many shopping malls in China. They also mentioned the difference in the quality of public transportation, saying that the train system was amazing, having several subway lines for city travel and having traditional trains for traveling to the province. Speaking of Beijing, Andee noted that she was surprised that Beijing, or the part of the city where they stayed, was more well-kept than she expected.
Once they arrived in China, Eric and Andee spent some time at the FF Beijing office, where they met many of our Chinese counterparts, such as the managers and support staff. Eric described them as very hardworking and busy but in a good way and despite their busy schedules, they always find time to chat with each other and welcome new people like him. He was also surprised to discover that in an attempt to optimize the operations, the Beijing office operates 24-7. Andee also mentioned the differences in the office layout between the office in the Philippines and the Beijing office, noting that most employees in the Beijing office worked beside each other using long tables that had no dividers, while the employees in the Philippines worked in their own stations. She also said that she liked working in closed booths that could be found in the office, often used for recording, since they were mostly soundproof. Another thing that was mentioned was that they had to use a VPN, or a Virtual Private Network, in order to access their social media accounts and websites, since China mostly uses Baidu and Weibo for their search engine and social media.
As the days went on, Eric and Andee carried out some promotional and marketing tasks which included going to partner training centers and having a demo class with students, teachers, administrators, and sometimes, even with the parents. Some of these trips often took days, as they had many classes with different institutions in different cities and provinces. Andee mentioned that she went to places like Hebei, Shanghai, Inner Mongolia, and Langfang, noting that she was amazed at the differences in culture and food, however, people were still very friendly and hospitable. Eric, meanwhile, was assigned to go to other parts of the country. A western teacher who recently joined the office-based teachers in Beijing, teacher Daniel, also had a number of marketing and promotional activities. According to Andee and Eric, most of their students ranged from 4 to 15 years of age and were very active and energetic in their classes.
Most of the difficulties they experienced during their promotional activities were surprisingly not class-related. Eric’s greatest difficulty, according to him, was the communication with the locals, especially when he had to ask questions. He said that he mainly used pictures and hand gestures to help him convey what he wanted to communicate. On certain occasions, he even mentioned that he had to utilize a translation app when outside of class. Andee, meanwhile, expressed that her biggest difficulty was when her skin condition acted up because of the very hot weather. Thankfully, she was given a cream that quickly resolved her problem. The only class-related problem that Andee mentioned was that she almost lost her voice due to the sheer number of classes that they had to do. She says that positive thinking helped her a lot through the ordeal.
Both Andee and Eric also shared some memorable experiences during their stay in China. For Eric, it was during his arrival at the airport, where he was confused and needed some assistance navigating through the different places of the airport and where to get his luggage. He was surprised that he had to take the subway to another part of the airport to get his luggage. Andee, meanwhile, shared that she had a lot of memorable experiences but one of the things that stuck out to her the most was when she had dinner at a restaurant in Inner Mongolia where wolves were part of the motif.
Overall, both Eric and Andee said that their trip was very fruitful, both professionally and personally, because not only were they able to raise Philippines’ flag and show to our partner institutions that PH teachers are also great teachers, but they also learned a great deal about China, our colleagues, and also about the students that we teach in First Future. Both of them mentioned that this opportunity provided them insights that are valuable for their professional and personal growth. When asked to give some tips to teachers who also want to experience the same opportunity, Andee said that the trick to being selected is to have the most fun in class. It is also important to be presentable and to be open-minded as you will be mingling with people from different cultures and backgrounds. Eric, meanwhile, wanted to share two quotes that he still keeps in mind, which are, “Never stop doing your best just because someone doesn’t give you credit”, and “If you work just for money, you’ll never make it, but if you’re doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours.”
Andee and Eric’s trip was a success. Goals were met and the ties with our partner schools were strengthened. More importantly, the two had a truly meaningful journey.
Surely, you’d love to see more? We got you! Videos if the month-long trip to China will be uploaded soon. So, make sure you tune in to our YouTube channel!
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