Busy Little Bee

Young students in a classroom in Chengdu, China.

These last couple weeks have been hectic. Not only have we had changes in our schedule, but I teach 18 different classes every week. I love the challenge of coming up with new material for each class (and trust me it is a challenge!). Teaching time, basic conversation, colors, ABC’s, and even Wheels on the Bus are only some of the things that I have done. The students are wonderful; most of them are very excited to learn English and very curious about English/American culture.

We’ve gotten to explore a little bit more. We walked maybe five miles around the city one night with one of the volunteers at the YMCA. His name is Laurence, and he will actually be going to Camp Onyahsa in Jamestown in June! He showed us Tianfu Square, which is the center of Chengdu. It was beautiful! There were water fountains all over and the buildings were all lit up. Laurence took us to Sichuan University, where he’s a student, and showed us around. Some of the buildings are very old and very traditional in their style.

We also went to a Chinese BBQ, which was amazing. They cooked hot dogs and sausages and vegetables. It may have been the best BBQ that I have ever been to. Although I can’t remember the name of it, we did go to another mountain. I do remember that there were a lot of stairs, though!! We have also been to a couple of shopping places and, thanks to one of the YMCA workers and my good friend Ting, I bought some really cute, really cheap things there!

Food from a Chinese BBQ

Some of the food from the BBQ

We’ve gotten a taste of Chinese nightlife as well. While sight-seeing with some friends we ran into a street of clubs. By and large, one thing I’ve noticed is that people here dress very conservatively. They wear tights and high collared clothing. This, however, was very different. I was not expecting to see anybody dressed so revealingly. Some of the girls had bare legs and their bellies exposed. It was definitely a change from the everyday clothing we see.

We have also seen some crazy police interactions. We saw one policeman tackle someone off of their bike and another encounter where the policeman grabbed a guy out of his car. It is definitely different than home. I don’t think I have ever seen police being physical in Olean.

Barbara with two of the boys from the orphanage

Two of the boys from the orphanage

Our schedule changed last week. We now spend two nights in the orphanage home. The kids there are so sweet and really hard workers. All of the children, even the littlest ones (no older than six), do their own laundry. They also sit up after school and study, and their school day ends at 5:00.

Staying at the orphanage house gives us an opportunity to teach at a different school on Friday. We teach one seventh grade class and one first grade class. All of the lesson planning for the different age groups is hard, but I am learning a lot. With the younger groups, it’s easier to teach with songs and games, while the older classes understand more by seeing written words. Both groups need repetition, however. Even though the classes are big, I think it is beneficial for each student to answer the question that I have, so that way they are both listening and speaking.

If anyone has some suggestions, such as games or anything else, please let me know. It would be a great help.


Want to know how you can have an internship experience like Barbara’s? JCC offers a wide variety of internship opportunities, both abroad and at home, paid and unpaid, for credit or not, with the college or with area businesses and organizations. Check out our listing of available internship opportunities and fill out an internship interest form to learn more.

About the author

Barbara Simon

Hi, my name is Barbara and I’m currently a sophomore at Jamestown Community College. This semester I decided to spend my time in China teaching English. My future goal is to teach and this will be a great experience!