It's resume time here at Slow Boat Central, and that, combined with the approaching end of our time at Xihua University, means that I've been a bit more self-reflective than usual. In times of transition, I'm prone to try to sum things up more than necessary, and to attach a bit too much meaning onto what really are quite ordinary events and experiences. And don't get me started on the "wow, this is the last time I'll probably ever be doing ______" syndrome. Blogging in such an environment can get to be downright maudlin, so be thankful that I haven't hit "publish" on some of my more sappy drafts as of late.
In the middle of this all, staring me in the face, was my resume, which of course, lists out all of my tasks and responsibilities and accomplishments associated with every place that I've worked. Specifically, under the "ESL Instructor, Xihua University" heading were three or four lonely bullet points describing my responsibilities as a classroom teacher. Taught classes. Developed curriculum. Interacted with students. Et Cetera.
Not bad in themselves, but compared to what I've done elsewhere as a teacher, technology coordinator, and creator at jobs where I've worn upwards of 36 different hats at once, it just seemed a little, well... lacking. Related to this, in describing what I've been doing here to others, I've sometimes had to stop myself from inserting the words "just" or "only" into conversations - as in, "I've
just been teaching basic English conversation courses to college freshmen." "I've only been teaching seven classes this semester." You'd think by now, I'd know better, right...?
And there have been a couple of job openings that have popped up lately that are of the "Oh, wow, this job description fits me exactly!" variety. Which means, yeah, time to get serious with the resume bit. So yesterday, I got to work, rolled up my figurative sleeves, fired up the laptop, and took the next logical step - finding someone with a clear second perspective to collaborate with. Fortunately, this time around, Jane happened to be free for part of the morning, so together, we sat down at the computer and put some serious thought into answering the question, "what have we been doing here, anyway?" After about thirty minutes of talking and suggesting and counter-suggesting, here's what we came up with:
- Taught Oral English and Culture and the Media classes to between 250-350 students (a mixture of first and second year English majors and interdisciplinary honors students) weekly.
- Challenged students to become aware of higher level thinking skills. Used various multimodal teaching strategies, and helped students to adapt and learn from teaching methods previously foreign to them.
- Developed independent curriculum for classes. Topics include intercultural communication, issues in the media, global awareness, environmental issues, mapping, and storytelling.
- Led students on observational field trips to the areas surrounding campus, developing their awareness of English as a tool for everyday communication. Helped students develop final projects to communicate what they had learned.
- Facilitated international email partnerships between my students and other students in Indonesia and the U.S.
- Designed curriculum to help students challenge themselves on issues of stereotyping and racism.
- Mentored students and teachers. Developed reciprocal relationships where one-on-one mutual learning could take place. Solved cross-cultural communication issues by engagement and dialogue.
- Began a lifelong study of Mandarin Chinese, both spoken and written.
- Challenged my own assumptions about education and learned about another worldview by empathizing with students and fellow teachers. Used my own journey as a Chinese language learner to engage students.
- Supported my 3 children as they studied in local schools, struggled with and eventually became fluent in Chinese, and immersed themselves in the local culture. Became familiar with some of the issues, challenges, and joys faced by immigrant parents.
- Traveled within China and in Southeast Asia. Got to know people from all walks of life, from urban to rural, rich to poor. Observed firsthand many of the effects of rapid societal change brought on by globalization.
- Blogged extensively to communicate my observations and questions to an international audience. (ca. 500 pageviews/week)
(If you know anyone who's hiring, better tell them to hurry up and get in touch with me before someone else snatches me up...)