Interview With Shanick Augustin: An American Teacher In China
Introducing the latest Reach To Teach teacher who took the time to answer some questions from us. Shanick made the move from teaching in the USA to teaching English to children in Shanghai. Read on to find out about her time teaching in China, where she has explored and her views on the best and not so best parts of Shanghai.
1. Please tell us a little about yourself.
Hello! My name is Shanick and I’m an English teacher at a training center in the Huangpu district in Shanghai, China. In the United States I was an athletic trainer and taught at a high school for three years before moving to teach English in China.
2. How have you enjoyed teaching in China to date?
I can honestly say that I haven’t had any regrets about teaching in China thus far. It’s been such a different experience from teaching back home. At our school we really try to focus on having fun with the children while teaching so I get to play games everyday. They also have a greater passion for learning. The students love to show off how much they know. The company I work for has a real sense of family and all of my coworkers are very friendly. I always hang out with them on my off days.
3. What advice can you give to new teachers interested in teaching in China?
- Put all of your fears aside! The transition is much easier than you think.
- Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. If you want to make friends you have to be proactive. Everyone is in the same boat you’re in.
- Try to learn Chinese! It’s a really hard language but you will always get smiles and encouragement from the locals when you try to speak it. It also amazes the kids into silence when you use it sparingly in class.
4. Can you tell us about a particularly powerful moment in your classroom?
I have a student who can be very unfocused in class and who I have repeatedly asked to be better. I realized that he was very unsure of himself in class. So one class I focused on taking my time when he answered questions and telling him how well he did at the end of class when I passed out stickers. When I walked out of class his grandfather stopped me to tell me that his grandson ran up to him after class and was so excited to tell him how well he did and show him his sticker. My heart melted. Positive reinforcement goes a long way.
5. What are the positive and negative aspects of living in China?
There are so many positive aspects to living in China. Minus housing (I live in Shanghai) the cost of living is very cheap, the food is amazing, there is always an event going on in town to keep you busy, the scenery is gorgeous and I don’t have to drive anywhere.
However, there are some negatives as well. The air quality here can be pretty bad so everyone is constantly sick. You also have to get used to people pushing, cutting and walking right in front of you in line. And of course the Internet. It can be very slow at times and even when it’s not I find it very hard to navigate Chinese websites when looking for information.
6. Have you had the opportunity to travel much in China or in Asia?
As of date I haven’t travelled too much but that is slowly changing. There is so much to explore in Shanghai that I don’t feel like I am missing out. However, I have been able to visit Nanjing and Hong Kong on quick trips. I just returned from An Hui Provence this weekend. I went on a camping trip with a group of 15 fellow coworkers and hiked through a couple of villages as well as the Bamboo Forest where Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was filmed. It was beautiful! I also have a trip planned to the Philippines in January and hope to take add in more trips in China between then.
7. Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about?
Honestly Reach to Teach is an excellent company if you are having any doubts. They were the most professional of the few that I spoke with. Also it’s never too late to begin this journey. I’m 32 and have met many people teaching who are around the same age as myself.
8. Do you have any favorite blogs or websites about China that you’d like to share with our readers?
I honestly have searched for many blogs. However, after my camping trip I’ve decided to try to step mine up a bit. Hopefully before you read this. 😉 My blog is excusefreeme.