Zach B

B.S. English: Linguistics and Communication, TESOL Certificate ‘18

I have always wanted to teach, and I’ve taught volunteer classes and tutored with GUTS, but last summer I had a paid internship in Xi’an, China. My internship was with Tophillus, a company founded by two Chinese-Americans with the goal of facilitating cultural exchanges between China and America. I was there for seven weeks, teaching English to Chinese students. Chinese primary and secondary schools have a six week on, two weeks off schedule and the education system in China focuses almost exclusively on rote memorization of grammatical forms. But I arrived at the tail-end of the two-week break, so what the students wanted from me was practice speaking English with an actual native.

If there was anything that took getting used to, it was the fact that I was a foreigner. Kids just wanted to hear my accent and would spout off all kinds of English, sometimes even English gibberish, in an effort to practice English with a 露白, a foreigner. The students were amazing. Whether it was the product manager of a graphics design company who took me to Shanghai for a fashion show or a soon to be 6th grader hoping to score better on her next quiz, the students I worked with were both enthusiastic and unendingly curious about learning English.

Beyond the amazing experience it was to teach enthusiastic children and adults, it was an unbelievable experience just to be in China. On my days off I climbed The Great Wall of China, saw the Terracotta Warriors, visited the Muslim district, and saw the Great Goose Pagoda. I even climbed a mountain, at night, to watch the sunrise from its peaks. I made the most random assortment of friends, from an all-female college tour group that was climbing the mountain to the two young men I met in a shared Uber, no matter the language barrier, I made friends with whom I still communicate today. I even found a little sister while participating in a home stay. With the help of my TESOL certificate and the qualifications it provided me, I now have an offer to teach English full-time in Nanjing post-graduation.