Interview With Stefanus Hanekom: A South African Teacher In China

Introducing our latest teacher interview. This week we interviewed Stefanus who took the plunge and made his first steps into a teaching career by moving all the way to China to begin a teaching position. Read on to see what experiences he has had as a first time teacher in China. 

Stefanus Hanekom with his class1. Hi Stefanus, thank you for taking the time to answer some of our questions. Please begin by telling us a little about yourself.

Hi. My name is Stefanus Hanekom and I am currently teaching in Dongguan, China and loving every second of it. I am from Durban, South Africa and coming to China was the first time ever leaving my home country. This is my first time ever teaching and I obtained my TEFL certification through I-to-I only a few month ago.

2. How have you enjoyed teaching in China so far?

At first I was very nervous and I had no idea what to expect. Everything seemed so different and I was scared I would not be able to adapt. As time went by I made some friends and I started enjoying life. I could not even remember why I was so scared to begin with. The people are amazing and often very keen to help you. The food in China is great and the cost of living is super low.

The teaching part is amazing. I love the children and the team that I work with is great. It feels so good that I can be making a difference in the children’s lives. This is the first job where I actually enjoy coming into work!

3. If you could give some advice to new teachers wanting to teach in China, what would it be?

I would tell them: Just do it! It’s really an experience of a lifetime and nothing in this world can compare. Just be prepared to adapt, if you are going to fight it you will not enjoy life and soon find yourself wanting to go home.

The Chinese culture is very different to back home and you may not agree with some things. You just need to remind yourself that this is not home and what seems normal to you may be strange to them.

4. Can you tell us about a particularly powerful moment in your classroom?

The most powerful moment I had in class was when a student’s mom approached me after class and told me that she was very impressed with me. She told me that I was the first teacher to be so patient with her child and that this was the first time her child referred to someone as teacher.

This may seem like something minor but compliments like those really remind you that you are doing a good job and can boost ones confidence. Confidence is definitely something you need to succeed with in this field.

5. Tell us about the positive and negative aspects about living in China.  

Positive aspects include: low cost of living, awesome weather (at least in the City I am living in), many public holidays that are set up in such a way that you can travel, free furnished apartment, amazing food, travel opportunities and a low tax rate.

Negative aspects: Big language barrier (most people can’t speak a word of English), Intense traffic with lots of hooting,  one can often find it difficult doing basic tasks such as booking a bus ticket or paying for your bills and extremely bad air pollution in some parts of China.

6. Have you had the chance to travel much in China, or Asia?

Sadly I have not had much chance to travel yet, but I have only been in China for 3 months. I am planning on going to Thailand in the next few months and will definitely share my experiences on my blog.

7. Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about?

If you want to know more about living and teaching in China feel free to check out my blog here.

If you have any questions you can comment and I will get back to you ASAP!

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