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I'm Melissa. I've seen more of China than I have my own country because I lived at a school in Wuhan China for 6 months volunteer teaching English. Ask Me Anything.

Melissa
May 16, 2017

If you are interested in experiencing a new land, culture, way of life, way of eating, way of being; then ask me anything. I believe everyone needs an adventure outside of their normal way of life to help them see who they want to be and what they want to do with their life.  I did this through living at a private boarding school in China and was changed for the better because of it.

Reason you believe this topic would be a great choice for an AMA:
Many people want to see the world, and this show one way to accomplish it (through volunteering).

Reason you believe you will be a great host to speak on this topic:
I have first hand experience doing this. Plus, it has been a few years since I did it, and I can tell readers how it has affected my life since.

Have you ever hosted an AMA before?:
No

May we contact you via phone?:
Yes

What number may we reach you at?:
801-615-3082

Comments are locked

Conversation (236)

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May 16, 9:17PM EDT1

May 16, 9:17PM EDT1

May 16, 9:17PM EDT1

Good times.

May 16, 10:12PM EDT1

Question about food.. What are the children fed?

May 16, 8:33PM EDT0

Rice and more rice!! Bok Choi (like a lettus) and variety of meats. They were really well fed at the school and we as teachers were too. I got two cavities when I got home because of all the rice eating my dentisit said.

May 16, 8:58PM EDT0

Did you know the language before moving there? Was it a hard one to learn?

May 16, 7:52PM EDT0

I did not know the language before hand, and for me personally it was fairly easy to pick up.  Chinese has tones, so there are some tricks to it though!

May 16, 7:59PM EDT2
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You said "changed for the better". How? Looking forward to you reply.

May 16, 7:15PM EDT1

It made me less self centered. I spent a lot of money while I was there and felt sick about it by the end of the trip. I wanted to not be so focused on things afterwards. I also met a lot of people hungery to know God, but was strictly forbidden by the government (and was lectured on it on a couple occations) not to talk about religion- which also proptem a couple years later, a mission to Hong Kong (where there is freedom of religion, at least for now).

May 16, 8:02PM EDT2

Great answer Melissa, thank you.

May 16, 8:27PM EDT0

Do the kids wear uniforms?

May 16, 6:56PM EDT0

yes.

May 16, 8:02PM EDT0

How was it to interact with some of the parents?

May 16, 6:28PM EDT1

Being that it was a boarding school, I rarely if at all interacted with parents. One one occation I did a "home visit" where I got to spend the weekend with one of my students and their parents at their home. They treated me like royalty.

May 16, 8:03PM EDT1

What is the teacher/child ratio?

May 16, 6:17PM EDT1

30 to 1

May 16, 8:03PM EDT1
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Is there a cafe in the school or is food brought in? thanks

May 16, 6:00PM EDT0

The kids had a cafeteria and we, the foreign English teachers had our own seperate one as well. 

May 16, 8:04PM EDT1

Were there other foreign teachers in your school?

May 16, 2:22PM EDT1

Yes, but not with the group I went through. One was from France and another from Australia. They both taught English as well and were paid, not volunteer.

May 16, 8:05PM EDT1
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What did you do for fun?

May 16, 1:51PM EDT0

went out for walks around town, or hopped a train and travelled when we had a three or four day weekend (which we did every other work week).

May 16, 8:05PM EDT0
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Were the locals happy?

May 16, 1:42PM EDT0

Yes. Chinese people are a happy people. They lived in conditions that were harsh, but not to them or at least they were happy despite it.

May 16, 8:06PM EDT1

Where were you staying? I know some who took English teaching jobs in China and stayed in a hotel while teaching. Thanks!

May 16, 12:54PM EDT0

I stayed at the Boarding school itself. They had nice apartments for us and cooked every meal for us too.

May 16, 1:44PM EDT0

What is the weather like there?

May 16, 12:05PM EDT0

I was in Wuhan,  which is considered an oven in China. Meaning in the summertime it gets really hot. I was there from January until June. In January it was cold but never snowed there is no central heating in any of the buildings so we dressed warmly

May 16, 12:39PM EDT1

How old are you?

May 16, 11:27AM EDT0

when I went, I was 19. I am in my 30's now.

May 16, 12:40PM EDT0

Hi, this is kinda off the topic but is it really heavily polluted in China that residents have to buy fresh air in cans?

May 16, 10:36AM EDT1

i have never heard of that nor did I see people do that. Many people wore face masks because of pollution, or if they were sick. In Xian,

May 16, 12:41PM EDT2
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Did you get some help when teaching? What about lack of communication issues with the children due to language barriers?

May 16, 9:56AM EDT0

 I went with a program called international language program, or I LP. They organized everything and worked with the schools. Many of the teachers spoke English as well as the school s

May 16, 12:42PM EDT0

How were the kids??

May 16, 9:22AM EDT0

 Because it was a boarding school, there were kids that were as young as 3years old and his old is 18 years old. 

May 16, 12:43PM EDT1

Quite a range!

May 16, 8:06PM EDT0

How many kids are in the school? Is it overwhelming?

May 16, 8:43AM EDT0

May 16, 12:49PM EDT0
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Are the children well off or poor?

May 16, 8:28AM EDT1

Because it was a boarding school the kids were pretty well off. Poor kids don't get such  agood education.

May 16, 12:49PM EDT1
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How was it to live in a Boarding Schools China? That's so adventurous!

May 16, 8:03AM EDT1

so fun

May 16, 12:50PM EDT1
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How many months are the children in school?

May 16, 8:01AM EDT0

 I

May 16, 12:46PM EDT0

year round with breaks.

May 16, 1:43PM EDT1

What are the things you passionate about?

May 16, 7:34AM EDT1

Language, cultures, meeting new people. 

May 16, 12:48PM EDT1

Nice, thanks for your AMA.

May 16, 8:08PM EDT0

Have you encountered scam artists along the way? Crime?

May 16, 7:02AM EDT1

No not really. There was a group of boys once asking us if our country could grant them asylum. We told them, they needed to go to the American Embassy.

May 16, 1:43PM EDT1

Have you done any other volunteering work while in China?

May 16, 7:01AM EDT1

I was a missionary in Hong Kong a few years after I taught English in the Mainland.

May 16, 12:53PM EDT1
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What is your favorite drink? :)

May 16, 4:06AM EDT1

water. In China, flower teas

May 16, 12:54PM EDT1
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What is your favorite Chinese food?

May 16, 3:44AM EDT1

pork and rice. I also love spicy noodle soup.

May 16, 1:42PM EDT1

How old were the children in the school?

May 16, 3:41AM EDT0

3-18 years

May 16, 12:54PM EDT0

Where are you from? Great AMA topic.

May 16, 2:43AM EDT0

Born and raised as inIdaho.

May 16, 12:55PM EDT1

Did you enjoy your volunteering position at the school in China?

May 16, 1:03AM EDT1

love it!!

May 16, 12:55PM EDT1

:)

May 16, 8:09PM EDT0

Wow, great way to experience a new culture. What are some of the your best memories?

May 16, 1:03AM EDT0

Going off the the unremodled part of the great wall in Bejing. Spending the night below it and hiking it all the next day without any other tourists!

May 16, 1:41PM EDT2

I would love to do that, I actually read about trips far away down the wall where there are no tourists.

May 16, 10:20PM EDT0

Have you experienced the local holidays and festivities in the classroom and outside?

May 16, 12:42AM EDT1

Chinese New Year! I was also invited to homes  to eat and celebrate.

May 16, 1:40PM EDT0

Sounds amazing!

May 16, 8:10PM EDT0

What was a typical day like?

May 16, 12:11AM EDT0

7am - morning drills, 8-breakfast,- 9 in class helping Native teachers, 12-lunch, 1 in my own class with smaller group of kids, 3- break, 5 dinner, -7 small group discussions with older kids-8 tucked younger kids into bed, 9-10- bed.

May 16, 1:40PM EDT0

How long have you spent in China? Would you go back?

May 16, 12:02AM EDT1

6 Months teaching English in Wuahn and 1 1/2 years in Hong Kong being a missionary. I would go back in a heart beat!

May 16, 1:38PM EDT1
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How many students were in the classroom? Thanks.

May 15, 11:32PM EDT0

About 30 per class. We had smaller class too that we're about 10 kids per class.

May 16, 12:58PM EDT0

Did you learn the local language, can you get by if on your own in China now?

May 15, 11:30PM EDT0

I picked up a bit of Mandrine and am semi fluent in Cantonese now, so yes, I would feel comfortable going back. Even then, tons of locals learn English and always want to talk to an American.

May 16, 9:04PM EDT0

Did you have to have to have any shots to volunteer?

May 15, 11:24PM EDT1

I got every shot you can think of! The whole gamut 

May 16, 1:00PM EDT1

Haha that's funny. I've done some travels and I'm your total opposite. I stay away from shots, don't like the needles!

May 16, 8:11PM EDT0

My question is, what do you feel is the children's favorite thing to do at the school?

May 15, 11:12PM EDT0

Break time!! The

May 16, 1:00PM EDT1
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Do you find it rewarding, both finanically as well as generally?

May 15, 10:44PM EDT1

Yes. I spent about $2,000 to volunteer, which included room and board, and other in the country travel expences. However, that was 10+ years ago, so the price of what I did may be a bit higher now. I actually played a lot on the days a wasn't teaching and felt over indulged by the time I got back. Which may explain why I went as a missionary to Hong Kong a couple years later.

May 16, 1:11PM EDT1

Pet peeves you recall?

May 15, 10:20PM EDT0

You mean thing I didn't like about China?

May 16, 1:02PM EDT0
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Where is your favorite place to eat In China?

May 15, 9:48PM EDT1

In people's homes.

May 16, 1:02PM EDT1

Did most people speak English ? At least a little bit?

May 15, 9:37PM EDT0

 Yes, many people actually speak English in China and they love to find a fourth person to speak with 

May 16, 1:02PM EDT0

How long was the school day?

May 15, 8:49PM EDT1

8am to 8pm. 

May 16, 1:03PM EDT1
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Where else have you traveled? :>

May 15, 8:24PM EDT0

 Xian, Guilin, Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Yellow river and surrounding villages. I also built houses in Mexcio as a teen

May 16, 1:04PM EDT1

How hard is it to teach the kids English?

May 15, 8:21PM EDT0

No, not really. If they had behavior problems, then yes. Kids are like sponges, they soak up language and learn fast!

May 16, 1:12PM EDT0

Have you eaten anything that would be weird to the rest of the world?

May 15, 7:37PM EDT0

Chicken feet, cow stomach, pig feet, little purple octopus on my Pizza Hut Pizza.

May 16, 1:13PM EDT1

Were there days you were questioning your decision to be there?

May 15, 6:44PM EDT1

Never, loved every minute of it.

May 16, 1:13PM EDT1

Great to know, what an adventure! I would love to do it one day.

May 16, 8:13PM EDT0

How did the other Chinese teachers treat you? Thanks in advance for your answer.

May 15, 6:24PM EDT1

We became really good friends. We were assigned to a couple teachers to go into their classrooms and help them out in addition to having our own smaller classes. The Teachers often had us tutor them after class hours too.

May 16, 1:14PM EDT2
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What Wuhan, China is known for?

May 15, 5:48PM EDT0

Being Hot in the summer!

May 16, 1:14PM EDT0

Don't they eat like anything that moves in Wuhan?

May 15, 5:05PM EDT0

Chinese eat many things Americans dont. Turtle, frog... those were ones I for sure never ate in the states.

May 16, 1:15PM EDT0

Do the children play any sports?

May 15, 4:51PM EDT1

Yes! THey love soccer and basket ball, and yes, ping pong.

May 16, 1:15PM EDT2

Thank you :)

May 16, 8:14PM EDT0

Is volunteering another way to find hook ups on the road? lol

May 15, 4:06PM EDT0

Not for me, but two other people I voluteered with ended up getting married when they got home.

May 16, 1:16PM EDT0

How is the pollution?

May 15, 4:05PM EDT1

Pretty bad. One day I thought it was snowing and it was actually coal ash falling from the sky.

May 16, 1:16PM EDT1
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Have you seen other parts of China on this trip or others?

May 15, 3:59PM EDT1

Yes, Xian, Guiling, Shanghai, Bejing, villiages along the Yellow River, Hong Kong, and a few others I can't even remember the names of! oops!

May 16, 1:17PM EDT1

Nice, what an adventure.

May 16, 8:22PM EDT0

Are the children well behaved?

May 15, 3:58PM EDT1

Oh yes, the teachers and school Admin are very very strict. If they slumped in their chairs they got wacked on the back of the head.

May 16, 1:18PM EDT1

That's funny to hear, "wacked", but not so funny if it happens to you!

May 16, 8:22PM EDT0

Do the kids play video games? If so how much and how often

May 15, 3:37PM EDT0

At the boarding school, no. In their homes, when they rarely got to go there, yes. So not often for the kids I worked with.

May 16, 1:19PM EDT1

What other languages do the kids learn besides their native language?

May 15, 3:23PM EDT0

English is top. Then the next top one is French.

May 16, 1:19PM EDT1

Thanks!

May 16, 8:04PM EDT0

Were you doing any other volunteering work while in China in your spare time? Did you have any spare time?;)

May 15, 3:18PM EDT0

In my spare time I explored and travelled. Two years after I taught English in the mainland, I went to Hong Kong to be a service missionary.

May 16, 1:20PM EDT0

One day I'm going to do this, but for now I'm here to ask.. how did you move/transport around the city? tia

May 15, 3:14PM EDT1

Train for big trips, then motorcycle, three wheelers, buses, and rarely taxi.

May 16, 1:21PM EDT1
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Hey.. what inspired you to make the move?

May 15, 2:14PM EDT1

I really wanted to know what life was like out of the USA and be apart of another culture. I wanted to has an adventure!

May 16, 1:21PM EDT1
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How many hours a day did you work?

May 15, 1:57PM EDT0

4-6, pretty easy.

May 16, 1:22PM EDT0

Was it all inclusive? Did you have any expenses while teaching?

May 15, 1:44PM EDT0

$2000 covered by flight there and back, room and board and travel expences for 6 months. May be a bit more now days.....that was 10+ years ago.

May 16, 1:23PM EDT1

Thanks.

May 16, 8:21PM EDT0

Did you do anything other than teaching while in China?

May 15, 1:30PM EDT0

Travel, travel, travel!

May 16, 1:23PM EDT1
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Did you need a work visa to stay that long?

May 15, 1:00PM EDT1

Because I wasn't paid, I got a volunteer type visa. There are paid teaching jobs similar to mine was though. Those would be working Visas.

May 16, 1:23PM EDT1

Good to kow!

May 16, 8:17PM EDT0

Does the school give you any spending money?

May 15, 11:48AM EDT0

I spent my own money. All volunteer, I didn't get paid anything.

May 16, 1:24PM EDT0

How was the local food? Were you brave to even try??!

May 15, 11:00AM EDT0

There was a muslim Chinese group that made hot noodle soup that was heaven!!!! I loved eating in peoples homes, but one experience eating snake was really hard.

May 16, 1:25PM EDT0

Have you gone on this trip alone or with friends?

May 15, 10:46AM EDT0

I went with a group of 40 other teachers, but I didn't know them before hand.

May 16, 1:25PM EDT0

What was the daily routine for you?

May 15, 10:14AM EDT0

7am morning drills (English songs and chants), breakfast, in class with teachers, lunch, in personal class with kids, break, dinner, group discussion with the older kids, bed.

May 16, 1:27PM EDT1
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How did you pick China over other places?

May 15, 10:00AM EDT0

China has always intrigued me. And it proved magical in every way. There is so much more to eat than the poluted cities.

May 16, 1:28PM EDT0

How's the local culture different than your own?

May 15, 9:33AM EDT1

Americans are LOUD compared to Chinese. Food, obviously, is different. People are also in your space more, as in, there is no personal space. Once you are a friend, they treat you like family.

May 16, 1:29PM EDT1
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Where were you staying?

May 15, 9:30AM EDT0

At the boarding school I taught at in Wuahn China.

May 16, 1:30PM EDT0

Is there any nightlife to talk about in Wuhan? ;>

May 15, 8:53AM EDT0

Yes, shopping, restaraunts, bars, keraoke, you name it.

May 16, 1:31PM EDT0

Have you felt unsafe at times?

May 15, 8:42AM EDT1

I probably should have, but no. I felt very safe. But I also didn't go to "shady" places.

May 16, 1:32PM EDT1

Guilty of that many times myself, hard to know what is safe or not when you just don't know what you don't know!

May 16, 8:01PM EDT0

What is the approximate cost of living in Wuhan, China?

May 15, 8:27AM EDT1

I don't know. I paid $2000 for flight there and back as well as room and board and travel and play, so my experience didn't give me that insight.

May 16, 1:33PM EDT1

Well Google, here I come!

May 16, 8:18PM EDT0

Do you know the cost of living in Wuhan?

May 15, 7:34AM EDT0

No, sorry.

May 16, 1:33PM EDT0

Did you miss home? That's a long time away from home!

May 15, 7:08AM EDT1

I missed peanut butter and A1 sauce. I called my parents in the net every so often. I was not homesick.

May 16, 1:34PM EDT1

Are you one of those who welcome the unknown, find your ways around town without a map? :)

May 15, 7:07AM EDT1

I most definately used a map and a travel book. I think its a must.

May 16, 1:34PM EDT1
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Wanted to ask.. Have you made any local friends?

May 15, 6:18AM EDT1

I have and have been friends with the, for the past 16 years because of it. We keep in touch often.

May 16, 1:35PM EDT1
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Were you around some of the expats?

May 15, 5:57AM EDT0

Yes, there was an Autralian man and a French woman we worked along side (they were professional teachers living and staying there perminately). Great people to get to know as well.

May 16, 1:36PM EDT0