I'm not sure how to begin speaking about my reflections on China now that I'm home... First, I definitely miss the familiar faces from the SNNU campus. The shopkeepers, canteen workers, and students became my friends, and I would speak to them everyday in Xi'an... Walking back on campus today was weird. I don't feel that same familiarity or friendliness from my fellow UofC community. I realized how essential the friendships were to my experience in China. I didn't think I'd be shedding tears during goodbyes... But alas, I was bawling just a few days ago.
I begin student-teaching grade 7 social studies and English next week, and I am certain that my experience teaching in China has prepped me for it. In China, I taught classes of 50 grade 8 ELL students, and I was teaching physics. While I am trying not to be too confident going into practicum, I know that it cannot be as challenging as the teaching in China was. I definitely hammered down ELL and classroom management skills in Xi'an.
I realized what I am grateful for. I briefly visited the Field of Crosses on Memorial the other night, and thought about how lucky we are to be living in Canada. Where everyone, regardless of their race, culture, religion, ideology, sexual and gender orientation; are welcome to live and lead dignified lives. I reflect on my experience in China and how censored information and speech were. I could not imagine the stress of living with the burden of being unable to speak your mind in your own country... Frankly, it's not the familiarity I'm most thankful for now at home... It's the freedom and the opportunity.
Overall, my experience was invaluable. I still need time to reflect on exactly what I have learned from my time there... But already, I know that the experience has made me a better (student) teacher and a more informed citizen. I'm grateful for everyone who made this experience possible- from the Werklund faculty, my family and friends, and the organizers in China. I am so, so lucky.