by Professor Fury
Someone said to me a few years ago that anyone who came to China to teach was running away from something.
It was a valid comment, often people are and do not wish to admit it. It got me thinking – what had I run away from?
In my case it took me three years of first dallying with the idea. The seeds had been sown by a relationship with a Russian girl I thought the world of but who was adamant she wanted to stay in Russia and not move to the UK, or anywhere else for that matter. Completely seriously, I stated that if she was that intractable and would agree to marry me then I would move to Russia. I would have done anything for her.
She almost snorted when she asked, “What can you do? You don’t even speak Russian!”
She had a point and so I pondered. What could I do?
The simple answer was, teach. Nothing else.
If someone had told me forty years ago I would end up as a teacher I would have guffawed. Me? Teach?? Don’t be ridiculous.
Now it didn’t seem such a stretch of the imagination.
The relationship sadly never progressed but the germ of an idea started to grow. I daydreamed often about once again travelling the world but as a teacher, bringing English where there was none. I was in a boring job that required no brains and was certainly discouraged from any form of initiative. They merely wanted obedient robots. Did I really want to retire and look back on the last 15 years of my working life and say to myself, what an achievement – I drove delivery trucks?? The same route to the same people every day?
Of course, I was middle-aged by then and so any decision was going to be greater in magnitude than if I were in my 20s or 30s. For me it would mean simply abandoning my old life and everything in it for good. Nothing would ever be the same again. I was hardly living the high life but equally I was paying my bills and eating. The lottery was my only (unrealistic) prospect of escape – or was it?
The answer to the question of what I was running away from by coming to China was simple.
I was in a rut and like most people slightly nervous of change. But that was precisely what I needed! Unmarried and with no ties, the thought grew and grew, slowly and imperceptibly until it became an itch that really needed scratching. I started researching online where I could teach, indeed if I could teach at all.
One problem was that I had never been to university. I had a qualification issued by the Government which had taken longer to achieve than a BA but it ruled out the likes of Japan. Having been there many times in the past I was none too keen to actually live there anyway. The world though, started opening up to me once again. Ecuador, Indonesia, Malaysia etc. I may not have a university degree but that’s not to say I am uneducated.
The fanciful thoughts continued growing until one day the lightbulb above my head suddenly illuminated. Nothing would happen unless I made it happen! Inertia kills ambition.
So I sat down and looked at all my options. I’d never been to Ecuador. Mexico was nice. I liked Indonesia. Then it hit me. I had been to every large country on the planet bar one! China! Well, I had been to Hong Kong and Macao but that didn’t count, it was British then. It wasn’t real China.
I loved going to Chinese restaurants so I liked the food. Why not? The devil on my left shoulder whispered in my ear that just because I like Chinese food doesn’t mean I could live there any more than I would love India just because I like a curry.
And if I took the leap, I would be signing a contract for a year. Not long when you are having fun but a lifetime if you are in prison. I was too old to be taking such a huge gamble. I needed to know that I could not only survive but live for that year.
But how could I find out if China was for me? There really was only one sensible solution.
To be continued…………………
About the Author
He is in his early sixties and has been teaching in universities in China for seven years. He has been a ships officer, salesman, manager, company director, engineer and truck driver in the past and so has a wealth of stories and experience to impart to his students.
He has been to 47 countries so far and visited more than 400 cities around the globe. Antarctica is the only continent he has yet to experience but there is still time!
He has so far volunteered at every school level in China, appeared on television several times (including taking part in a Spring Festival Gala show) and his ambition is to be allowed to retire in China when the time comes. His latest party piece is playing Santa for whoever asks!