Teacher Testimonials

Last Updated—
September 18th, 2014

My wife and I just got back in December 2012 from teaching English in China through the China Horizons program. We feel blessed to have had that opportunity and feel particularly thankful to have gone to the school that we did. It was a really great experience and helpful for us to learn more about teaching, ourselves, and the great people that we met in China. We are thankful for China Horizons in helping us have a memorable experience. We couldn’t have done it ourselves! We made life-long friends and had experiences that we will always cherish!

Dustin and Joy Higginson

Quanzhou, Fuzhou, China
China Horizons Fall 2012


“Learn how to be brave in front of people; learn to open your heart and love everyone you come in contact with; and experience the vibrant culture first hand.”

 

 

I went to China after talking to a friend who had previously gone earlier in the year. It was Disney World or China….I picked CHINA! And I never looked back once. I went there and experienced a wide array of different lifestyles and foods! Oh boy the foods, they were sometimes so bizarre but soo delicious! I was given the title of having a “Chinese Stomach” and the feeding never stopped. It was nice to be able to communicate with the people through food when our communication was lacking due to the language barrier. There is something about sitting down for a meal with friends that just make you grow closer.

Don’t be afraid to ask what the Chinese name of something is, the more you listen the more you learn the language. Playing games with the kids and the adults really taught me a lot of words and gave me some good laughs too! It was always hilarious when the kids would try to teach me a word and I would have to say it ten different ways before it was actually right, they really enjoyed teaching the teacher! It gets them more involved in trying to learn the English word when you do this!

I am so grateful to have made quick friends with my fellow teachers! There was a handful of oh so wonderful people that really threw us into the culture. They gave us tours of their home towns, took us to the must see sights, and took me on lots of hiking! Or I should say stair climbing in China! Haha! Being outdoors was one of the greatest things I could have done when I was there, that and traveling. Sometimes it was the best of both worlds and we traveled to hike! I hiked through bamboo forests, to the top of the highest peaks, rafted, learned Tai Chi and sang karaoke in Wenling, meandered through various parks and looked out of skyscrapers in Nanjing, rode the subways of Shanghai, toured small towns made of rock, learned the history of Xi’an and the Terracotta Warriors, wandered rooftops of the school I lived in and rode my bike everywhere I went to really get a chance to look at all the beauty . And in doing all of these things with the students, by myself, with my American and Chinese friends, I really got to feed my spirit of adventure and made some of the kindest and sincere friends that I know I can count on, even if they are on the other side of the world.

I would not trade my China Horizons experience for the world. Jacob and Spencer were right by our sides answering any questions we had and encouraging us to travel (as we did very very often on our off days). I would trust them with anyone and would give 100% recommendation to anyone. Go through China Horizons. Learn how to be brave in front of people; learn to open your heart and love everyone you come in contact with; and experience the vibrant culture first hand. When you teach there is a more personal and in depth experience you get because you gain a relationship in a learning environment-and that expands your possibilities to do so much more. The students do love telling you about life and the language as you share about your life and language. You will grow and appreciate so much more in this life. So just do it.

Note: Bring American candy, go to all the surrounding cities and even hop on over to a different country-I would recommend Thailand! As you explore how the people live you are able to teach them on deeper level. Really, really just put your whole heart into teaching. The students will recognize that you are doing that and will be so much more receptive. Your students will change your life for the better (And I mean that in not the most cliche way ever)!

Anna Haynes

Wenling, Zhejiang, China
China Horizons Fall 2011


“It was hard, I’m not going to lie. But everything began to change once I started teaching my classes. Seeing the love in 560 beady brown eyes, the kindness coming from 16 year olds towards each other and me, their acceptance of ME as a person, changed everything.”

 

 

My China experience can be summed up in 7 words; THE most AMAZING experience of MY LIFE. Before I left for China, I just had this urge to go somewhere and make a difference. When I heard about China Horizons I saw it as the perfect opportunity and just went with it. Months before I left I would tell everyone, “Ya, I’m skipping school this Fall and going to China to teach English” and I thought nothing of it. “Yup, I said CHINA! No big deal right?” It wasn’t until the DAY before I left that it actually hit me. And when I say it hit me, I mean it hit me like a destruction crane plunging right into the pit of my stomach. ME, Mekena Morgan, was actually going to the OTHER side of the WORLD?! I just couldn’t believe what I had gotten myself into! I wondered, “How the heck am I going to talk to people?!” “How am I going to TEACH?!” “Is it going to be like the new Karate Kid movie?!” “Why am I teaching English when I can barely speak it myself?! “Will I even like Chinese food?!” I officially freaked out and my family can testify to that.

But the INSTANT that those massive Korean Air wheels landed in Beijing, my heart was calmed. The sense of adventure and new beginnings took over. But that doesn’t mean I was cool and collected the whole time. The first week in my city I was in shut down, freak out, lock myself away from the world mode. Since I was in a much smaller city than most people, not everything was conveniently right outside my door and we had to actually explore everywhere to find things. And that scared me too. Everyone constantly staring at me, no one speaking English, nasty-looking restaurants, crazy drivers. It was hard, I’m not going to lie. But everything began to change once I started teaching my classes. Seeing the love in 560 beady brown eyes, the kindness coming from 16 year olds towards each other and me, their acceptance of ME as a person, changed everything. I saw Christ in them. Once I realized that, I became more open and accepting to everything around me. I began to embrace the culture and LOVE every minute of it.

I began taking more pictures, trying to capture “Everyday China” so that I could remember it forever. Towards the end I was amazed to see how accustomed and casual I felt in my everyday life in China. Traveling? No big deal. We’ll get there when we get there. Ordering food? Simple. Stuck to my basic fried rice and dumplings. Teaching? Simply stated, we had a “Blast-a!” I never thought that teaching HIGH SCHOOL would be the funnest job I’ve ever had. All 560 of my crazy-lovin’ students left an imprint on my heart that will forever be there. At the end of my journey, I was a wreck. But in a good way. Saying goodbye may have been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but as Rascal Flatts perfectly states it, “God blessed the broken road, that lead me straight to you”.

If you’re considering going to China, DO IT. You will never know what “may happen” until you do it. If you’re scared about the culture and food, EMBRACE IT. You will never know how fascinating and liberating the culture and food are until you embrace it. If you’re nervous about teaching, LOVE IT! You will never know the impact the students may have on your life until you realize how you are impacting each and every one of their lives and love what you are doing. In the end, EVERYTHING will be completely worth it.

Mekena Morgan

Yangzhong, Jiangsu, China
China Horizons Fall 2011

 

“I can’t tell you how great it feels to walk into a classroom and have 30 or so five-year-olds run over to you, screaming your name, and latch onto your leg! I loved my kindergarteners, and after 2 ½ months of feeling alone and forgotten about, I was finally feeling loved and cared about.”

I want to start off by saying that living in China was the hardest experience of my life. This was my first time away from home, and if that’s not a hard enough adjustment all by itself, having the many things that make China unique thrown into the mix made for a pretty tough start. The thing that I found most challenging was that I really just didn’t have enough to do. The school I was teaching at only gave me three classes a week, which is not normally the case with most China Horizons teachers. Another challenge was my liaison. For the first week or so I wasn’t even exactly sure who my liaison was. That first night in my city, while many of the other teachers were out attending dinners hosted by their schools and being introduced to the faculty, I was sitting in my apartment with another English teacher trying to figure out where the cafeteria was. I never did meet the headmaster and ended up feeling really neglected by my school.

That being said, while I would never do it again, this China experience has seriously changed my life for the better. There were many times that I considered going home, but I’m so glad that I decided to stay and stick things out. And because I did stay I was able to meet some pretty incredible people, and experience some pretty amazing things.

About 2 ½ months in, after I’d involved both Becky, the woman in charge of the Zhenjiang teachers, and Jacob, the director of China Horizons, I was able to start teaching at some kindergartens and an elementary school.

After that my experience in China really turned around. I went from teaching three classes once a week, where I never seemed to teach the same kids twice, to teaching the same group of kids twice a week. It was awesome! I finally had a sense of purpose and I was really able to connect with these kids. I can’t tell you how great it feels to walk into a classroom and have 30 or so five- year-olds run over to you, screaming your name, and latch onto your leg! I loved my kindergarteners, and after 2 ½ months of feeling alone and forgotten about, I was finally feeling loved and cared about.

Everyone in the program was kind of in a similar situation, being in a foreign country, and this allowed for some pretty fast friendships. I made friends over there that I’ll have for the rest of my life.

Overall, it was a tough 4 ½ months, but in that time I really grew as a person. I’m happy with my decision to go, and even more happy with my decision to stay.

Tosh Dowling

Zhenjiang, Jiangsu, China
China Horizons Fall 2011

 

“Without reserve, I recommend this program to anyone and everyone who wants to travel and have a blast, but even more than that, those who yearn for a meaningful experience abroad.”

Since returning from China, I have been peppered with one question. Time and time again, the same three words: “How was China!?” Each time the question is posed, I feel a small stab of frustration and I have often wished that I could respond, “amazing, difficult, eye-opening, disgusting, incredible, delicious, awkward, shocking, beautiful, surprising, rude, hard, wonderful, rewarding, uncomfortable, the lowest of lows and the highest of highs, indescribable really!…How was the most life-changing four months of your life?” I suppose if I could only pick one word to sum up my China experience, it would have to be life-changing…maybe that’s 2 words, but either way…

How has it changed my life? In so many ways that I don’t even know where to begin…Seeing the challenges that millions of Chinese face daily has changed the way I view my own privileged circumstances. Watching those of other faiths worship with solemnity and reverence has caused me to reevaluate my own dedication to the beliefs I hold most dear. Pushing forward with teaching when my students were resisting so greatly that I simply wanted to break down in tears and quit has helped me develop patience and perseverance in a way I could not have learned elsewhere. Hiking until I was above the clouds and soaking in the magnificent Chinese mountains has forever changed the attitude with which I view nature around me. Struggling to learn the names of my four hundred students and praying for them has changed the way that I view those I do not know. Standing atop the Great Wall, completely captivated by grandeur of such a structure and its misty surroundings has changed the attitude with which I approach the once-dull subject of history. Seeing a sweet old woman’s genuine smile on the crowded city bus has taught me about deeper means of communication that language barriers cannot touch.

Needless to say, I could write a lengthy novel about my experiences in China (you’re probably thinking—she already did!) and how they have affected me for the better. As I consider the many different hands that made my life-changing semester possible, China Horizons ends up with much of the credit. Without reserve, I recommend this program to anyone and everyone who wants to travel and have a blast, but even more than that, those who yearn for a meaningful experience abroad. To all those who desire to delve into this rich Chinese culture on a deeper level than simply a tourist, I strongly urge you to consider China Horizons. Conveniently, this program also allows you to keep your life-savings while having an experience of a lifetime! In case I have not made myself perfectly clear, let me reiterate: to all those who are considering China as a possibility in your future, I’ll tell you what I told a dear friend who was in your same position, “Stop considering and just do it!”

Heather Wilson

Nanjing, Jiangsu, China
China Horizons Fall 2011

 

“I loved the teaching. It was hard and pretty frustrating to begin with, but it gradually kept getting better and better.”

Going to China is the most amazing thing I have ever experienced. It was exciting, fun, challenging, and so worth every minute. Walking in to teach the first day was terrifying. I never knew that a class full of first graders could be so intimidating. After only a few days though, the intimidation fades with their smiles and love. I loved walking to class every day and all of my adorable students running out into the hall to meet me and bombard me with hugs and kisses and I love you’s. I loved the teaching. It was hard and pretty frustrating to begin with, but it gradually kept getting better and better. The students though always made it so worth it. They were so cute every day. The people in China are just absolutely incredible, especially as you focus on serving them and understanding them and becoming friends with them. They can become life-long friends to cherish forever. I definitely had my moments where all I wanted to do was go home, but those are the moments that made me stronger and that I am so grateful I endured. Going to China to teach English was the most amazing thing I have ever done. It will be something I will remember and be grateful I did forever. I highly recommend it!!!

Tina Dittmar

Yangzhong, Jiangsu, China
China Horizons Fall 2011

 

A word of WARNING: Don’t go if you hate the idea of growing to love and embrace an incredible culture, changing lives in ways you never thought you could, eating the world’s greatest food, having amazing adventures every day, and developing rewarding, life-long friendships!

Brad Johnson

Zhenjiang, Jiangsu, China
China Horizons Spring 2011

 

“I think that having an open mind about China helped with the transition between cultures, languages, food, and a whole new way of life.”

Wow, what can I say about China? In a few words, I LOVED IT!  It wasn’t always perfect, things run different there than in the States, but I can seriously only remember the fun, happy moments I had while I was there. Going to China was one of my life dreams, and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to go and with a better program. I am grateful for China Horizons for their genuine concern for me.

I taught from February to July 2011 at a kindergarten in Zhenjiang China. I can sincerely say that I was very lucky to work where I did, it was a great school. The teachers there were always willing to help me in class and out of class when I needed it. The principal (Fanny) made sure I felt comfortable teaching there. It wasn’t always easy to teach, especially the youngest kids, because they could hardly stay still for more than 5 minutes at a time without being rowdy. But even those days when I felt like I wasn’t teaching them anything useful, there would be a student that, with his or her smile and their attempt to speak english with the little words he or she knew, would brighten my day and made it all worth it.

Like I mentioned before, I was very lucky to be were I was. But I also think that having an open mind about China helped with the transition between cultures, languages, food, and a whole new way of life. My only advice to anyone that is considering going to China is to just DO IT! It will make you a better person. It will open your eyes to a world you didn’t even know existed. Go to China, not expecting to be as comfortable or have the same life style as in the USA, because you will be disappointed pretty fast. But don’t let that discourage you. What you will learn will be priceless once you give them a chance to show you what they have to offer you.

I made great friends there, both American, Chinese, and tons more from around the world. I got to see places I thought would be impossible to see in person. But most important, I learned that they are people just like you and me who are trying in their own ways to have a better life and that given the chance, they can become great friends. I would go back in a heart beat, and I will once I no longer need to be here in the States. My experience in China was and is priceless and has changed the way I see the world.

Betsy Ruiz

Zhenjiang, Jiangsu, China
China Horizons Spring 2011

 

“I wanted to go to China and hopefully leave with the students knowing how much I loved them, but the reality is that you end up leaving feeling more loved than you could have imagined.”

Trying to write about China is hard to do.  You spend four and a half months of your life completely in the service of others and you have so many wonderful experiences that it’s hard to write about all of it. Teaching in China was an incredible experience, but it was also a very hard experience. For me it was a time when I got to find out at least some of who I really am. Those four and a half months had some tough times, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything and I would definitely go back and do it all over again.  The hardest thing for me to deal with was just feeling alone. That all really changed whenever I would go teach. It’s hard to feel alone when you have so many students that all want to talk to you and be friends with you. You feel so loved and you are reminded that you are never really alone.

When you first go to teach it’s a little overwhelming, and at least for me, I was not quite sure what I had gotten myself into. But then you get to know the students and they make you feel so loved and welcomed. I wanted to go to China and hopefully leave with the students knowing how much I loved them, but the reality is that you end up leaving feeling more loved than you could have imagined. I seriously miss my students so much, and some day I would love to go back to Zhenjiang and visit them. The students were definitely the best part of China and I will never forget them.

You make friends with all of your students, but you also make friends with pretty much every Chinese person you meet. These people are seriously the nicest people on the planet! I didn’t speak any Chinese when I went, but the people there try to help so much and are never annoyed that you can’t speak their language.

China was such an amazing, life-changing experience, and I am so incredibly glad that I went. It changed my life and I am a much better/stronger person because of it. Teaching there was incredible and you find that your students will teach you more than you will teach them. I will never forget them or my experience there. I love China!!

Aubrey Lamoreaux

Zhenjiang, Jiangsu, China
China Horizons Fall 2011

 

The hiking path was not a direct course, so we charted our own. It was fun to spend a day getting lost among the tiny farmer villages nestled among the mountains and riversides.

To start off, we jogged through an open area with lime green rice paddies, elegantly displayed with the continuous backdrop of mountain peaks that were so characteristically China. The trail alternated between the farmland and riverbank providing a continuously exciting walk. We passed by orchards of lychee, pomelos, and persimmon–each a fruit I had never experienced before coming to China. It wasn’t unusual to see a farmer strolling past with his own personal water buffalo on a leash, pointy straw hat and everything. The hiking path was not a direct course, so we charted our own. It was fun to spend a day getting lost among the tiny farmer villages nestled among the mountains and riversides.
At what seemed about the perfect time of day, we suddenly came upon a restaurant. We had been hiking in the countryside all day long and this place to eat seemed to pop out of nowhere, hanging right on the edge of a hill overlooking the Li river.
We ordered the most delicious eggplant dish with fried rice which we ate under an open air structure with a pleasant breeze drifting through. Again, I took note of how epic of a place I was in as I looked out over the incredible view of the river and mountain combination.
We continue on our way, passing cotton plants (something I’ve never seen before) and red chili pepper plants, stunning with the red against the green. I took a quick (like 10 second) nap resting against a hay bail, which wasn’t actually all that comfortable, contrary to common belief. We also had to dodge a man carrying his wide bundle of bamboo up the winding stone trail. I noticed a field of eggplant that could very well be the source of the lunch I had eaten not a mile back. Fresh off the plant eggplant!
After crossing the river one more time, by bamboo raft of course, we passed a bunch of great big tall bamboo groves. These things were giant and made a mysterious creaking sound when the wind caused them to rub against each other. I especially loved seeing the women with two baskets of produce hanging from their shoulders, hoping to sell it to some tourist in the nearby village of Xingping.
Need I mention again that all of this is done right among these incredible mountains?
Our hike ended in the 1600 year old town of Xingping. It had a neat, old feeling that we soaked in as we wandered the narrow higgledy piggledy alleyways full of people selling random merchandise. Again, I pause to realize what an incredible place China is and how very lucky I am to be here.

Aimee Johansen

Nanjing, Jiangsu, China
China Horizons Fall 2011

 

 

“After they started to know you better and became less nervous, they would leave notes for you that brightened your day.”

All in all I loved China, it was a dream of mine for the longest time. And China Horizon’s made it cheap, fun, and very affordable. The trip couldn’t have been better. Starting out in Hong Kong then to Beijing for somewhat of the real China. Haha, then the strings were cut and we were off to our respective areas. It was scary when you heard you’d be teaching 20 classes a week, and even more intense when you meet each of them. But as the semester went on you found a love for each one of them. After they started to know you better and became less nervous, they would leave notes for you that brightened your day.
Like any other experience there were things you didn’t fully understand making it difficult. For example, loving the people for who they are not what you want them to be was tough. Going without a milk shake until you could leave to a bigger city was another killer. Haha, I love my ice cream.
Nothing could trade the experience and I definitely plan on going back as soon as I can. It opened my eye’s to how different people and cultures are and that’s totally okay.

Grant Fawson

Ninyuan, Hunan, China
China Horizons Fall 2010

 

China Horizons changed my life. If I hadn’t taught English in China then I would never have found my passion. After my experience, I changed my major to elementary education with a minor in teaching English as a second language and I hope to teach around the world. Besides finding out what I want to do for the rest of my life, I learned so much about Chinese culture and it really opened my eyes.

Athena Galgiani

Hengyang, Hunan, China
China Horizons Fall 2010

 

What made me decide to go to China? I was currently in a stage in life where I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I was going to school, studying a major I thought I loved, I was just there. Just existing. I wanted to take a semester of my life and devote it to something that made me feel alive and important. I heard about China Horizons through the Career Fair up here at Utah State University. It just felt right. I embarked on the adventure of a lifetime. China. What an amazing country packed full of life, and culture. I was somewhat intimidated and scared, but the group made me feel more than welcome. Every day in China was an adventure. From getting pictures taken with strangers, to signing autographs in classes. The kids I taught were seriously so full of love even though they hardly have an example of what love really is. To completely give yourself in service is better than any feeling in the entire world. Living in the small, rural town of Ningyuan, I was challenged more than anyone can even comprehend. Nothing too difficult, but it helped shape me and change me to the person I am today. I learned independence in a whole new light. I learned confidence in front of audiences up to thousands of people. I learned kindness from the students around me. I learned patience while traveling on those long Chinese buses. China changed me as a person. It will continue to change me as the years progress. I have been home for months and there is not a day that goes by in which I don’t think about China and all of the treasures it had in store for me. It was a life-changing experience and I strongly suggest it to anyone who is looking for an amazing, affordable experience.

Ryan Snow

Ninyuan, Hunan, China
China Horizons Fall 2010

 

I learned a lot about my self and how I interact with people. You show your true colors when taken out of your comfort zone and I am proud of who I am and what I did. China helped me to see that. China is such an amazing place and the people are the nicest people I have ever met. Teaching was a blast and I am planing on going back again some time.

Parker Abegg

Liling, Hunan, China
China Horizons Spring 2010

 

I loved my experience in China. The students were amazing, everyday was a blast with them. They loved us so much! I wouldn’t trade those 5 months for anything!

Jimmy Leggieri

Linyi, Shandong, China
China Horizons Spring 2010

 

In February of 2010, I set off on the adventure of a lifetime, one which opened my eyes and changed my perspective. The things I learned in China will be a part of who I am for the rest of my life. China Horizons is rightly named because it broadened my horizons and helped me step way outside of my comfort zone. In China, I learned way more than 20 years of formal education could ever mimic. I didn’t speak any Chinese, but yet I learned how to take care of myself in a foreign country where no one understood me. My students were the most AMAZING, wonderful people I have ever met. I learned way more from them than I taught in return. I am still in contact with a lot of them and hope to be for the rest of my life. I got to see places I had never even imagined existed, in addition to all the famous tourist spots. The Great Wall, Summer Palace, Forbidden City, Victoria Peak, the Hong Kong Temple, Zhangjiajie National Park, Yangming Mountain, Fenghuang, Guilin, Yansghuo….so many other incredible places. I think I took like 5000 pictures. Shopping was so much fun, once I got the hang of it. It was one of my favorite parts. The food was FANTASTIC, as well. My students taught me how to make some of my favorite things and I make them in America all the time. In short, China was a blast and it changed my life. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. I am not the same person I was before I went. I miss China. I think I always will. Go! You’ll never regret it.

Shelby Woodhouse

Shuangpai, Hunan, China
China Horizons Spring 2010

 

When I first decided to teach in China I didn’t exactly know what I had gotten myself into, but the more I learned about it, the more my fears and doubts were calmed and the more I became excited about it. I was afraid that my inability to speak Chinese would be a big hurdle. Even though I have a hard time communicating in Chinese, the people here will bend over backwards to make sure that I have a good experience and that I am well taken care of. The students are very excited to learn and interact with a foreigner. As a result we are treated like celebrities. You don’t ever feel like you don’t have a friend here. The students are more concerned with speaking with a foreigner than with lesson contents so preparing a lesson is very simple. The housing and food were better than I expected. The only regret I have now is that I can’t stay for longer. China Horizons makes sure that you are well taken care of and that above all, you have a fun experience in China.

J.C. Hoopes

Hefei, Anhui, China
China Horizons Winter 2007

 

I was way off the mark when I compared my initial China experience with what my expectations had been. I envisioned China being very smoggy, polluted, and full of non-emotional people with little feet. Now that I have been here for a month and a half, I am finding that there is plenty of clean, healthy air to breathe, there is pollution, but not as much as I had been warned about, the people love to chat in English and be around each other, and their feet are…yes, small. The most challenging adjustment so far has been the language barrier. I studied a bit of Chinese before coming and thought that I had at least the basics memorized. The studying that I did is no where close to how they really speak or their choice of words. I was told that many Chinese knew English or at least enough to carry a conversation. I have yet to carry a long, meaningful conversation with a Chinese person. Many of the students know some English, but very little. Teaching, for this reason alone, is a lot more challenging and frustrating than I had planned. I am having to institute new ways of teaching and have had to adjust my lesson plans immensely.

Even with the difficulties I have had so far, the good definitely outweighs the bad. I have learned and experienced more in this first month than many people do in their whole lifetime. After I decided to come to China, people questioned “Why CHINA? Why not Europe or somewhere luxurious?” These are some of the reasons I have learned. Life here is simple. It is real life with real people who are the most humble, yet content, I have ever met. They love education and learning more than they enjoy playing video games, watching TV, or shopping. Their work ethic has taught me that I need to work on mine. They are a people who work for what they receive and don’t cut any corners. They believe in, and follow, the golden rule. Their desire for group acheivement, honor for their country and personal virtue is so inspiring. They treat me like a million bucks because they know the meaning and application of respect for everyone. The Chinese men have much regard for women (of all ages), which is something I was told that I would not see. They love to smile…and stare. They love to say “Helloooo”…even if you are two blocks away. They value honesty and courage.

Even though I am taking a semester off of college to teach English in China, I am learning more about life and love than I could ever imagine to learn in all my 4 years at college. In fact, I am even considering extending my contract for another semester… I have grown to love China, the people of China, and my life here like I love my life in the United States.

Jenna Martin

Weifang, Shandong, China
China Horizons Winter 2007

 

I went to China in the winter of 2004. At the time I didn’t know quite what to expect. The first thing I noticed when I got there was that the air was polluted. I started teaching a few days later and found my students to be very respectful and for the most part attentive. It was great because I had lots of free time to do things because I taught less then 20 hours a week! I made as much money as the principal did so I had plenty of money for souvenirs and living expenses, I ended up saving about 90% of what I made. I took up free Kung Fu lessons at the school where I was teaching and later preformed what I learned in front of over five hundreds students at BYU-Idaho.

I learned to really love the other English teachers and my students. The China experience for me turned out to be a real life changing experience for the better. It opened my eyes to a total different world. I would recommend this experience to anyone who wants to experience this world and is willing to be patient with a different culture and the occasional hassles that come from living in a developing country, i.e. my hot water didn’t work when I first got to the dorm I was staying in.

I have since been back to China studying the language and doing an internship. I returned to my school where I taught English and got to visit with my students and fellow English teachers again. It was a great experience.

Jason Cane

Baoding, Hebei, China
China Horizons Winter 2005

 

Every now and then, you get the opportunity to be a part of something wonderful. Teaching English in China was one such opportunity for me. I didn’t grow up dreaming and wishing to someday go teach English in China, it kind of just happened! I heard about the program, and despite my worries and fears, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. It’s been over two years since I got wrapped up in this “China madness,” and I’m still very passionate about it. It’s hard to imagine what my life would have been like if I hadn’t decided to go to China. It was the last thing I had ever thought about doing, but it has since become a very significant part of my life. The things I learned during my four months there have made me a better person. I wish everyone could have such a life-changing experience.

With any rewarding experience, you’re bound to face challenges. China was NO exception to this. During the first month I would have been happy to call it quits and go home. Missing my family was probably the biggest challenge for me. Boredom was also a difficult thing. We taught less than 20 hours a week, which left a lot of free time for my companions and I. After a while, we learned how to battle homesickness and keep ourselves somewhat busy (traveling, reading, exploring, visiting the students, movies). The last three months were just fine. The good times most definitely outweighed the bad, and any discomfort or trial I faced was well worth the growth I experienced and the lessons I learned.

Putting aside the sentimental aspect of this experience—China was also tons of fun! I took over 1,000 photographs while I was there, most of them of things I never dreamed I would ever encounter. If you have a good attitude, you’ll find that everything is an adventure waiting to happen. The Chinese people are so kind and generous—you’ll soon feel as though you had 1.8 billion best friends!

My favorite part was the culture. I’m a fearless adventurer at heart, so I embrace culture shock! I was very eager to dig into the nitty-gritty parts of the Chinese way of life! I did some pretty crazy things I never ever thought I would do. The way these people live is fascinating! Yes, they eat some barbaric stuff, their toilets are icky, they stare at you non-stop, they act strange, they sound strange, they dress strange… isn’t it great?! Just think of how much you can learn from these people who are so different from you!

I still can’t believe that I got paid to have such a wonderful experience. I would do it again for free! Whenever I tell people what an amazing time I had, they can’t believe that I got paid $500 dollars a month! But it’s true. This program really is magnificent. Other ESL companies charge thousands of dollars for their services. China Horizons offers the exact same services for a small application fee, and that’s it! I’ve met the owner several times, and he is very passionate about what he does. I’m very grateful that he made it possible for me to go to China and learn so much. I only wish I could tell the whole world just how great my experience was.

Angela McKeen

Tongcheng, Anhui, China
China Horizons Fall 2005

 

My time in China has been great and wonderful. I’ve come to love the people, the cultures, the places, the food, and the experience I’ve had with China. This was my first foreign country so I guess that may account for some of my wonderment and awe that I describe, but I chose China for a reason. I wanted to understand China. Before I came here I knew about Chinese life and culture and basic things, but I didn’t understand and I desperately wanted to. During the plane trip I kept thinking about what China had in store for me and I was full of excitement, a little nervous even. I have lived alone in China, and so it’s pretty much just me and the Chinese people. I ended up in a little place that no one has ever heard about and at first I thought maybe I made a mistake, then I actually met the people and I instantly fell in love. I’m definitely going to come back to China at some point. Don’t worry about the rest of your life, you find it’s not as pertinent as you think it is. When you come back from China, you will be a different and better person. Something about China does that to you. I’ll never be the same. My adventure has seemed so grand to me and I’ll hold it close forever. China Horizons has been the best program anyone could ask for and I am glad I found them. Jacob is especially nice. I’m glad it was him who took me to my first foreign country.

Brett Merrill

Tongcheng, Anhui, China
China Horizons Fall 2007

 

What an experience this has been. There’s truly nothing like it! When we first arrived, our school was about nine hours late on picking us up from Shanghai. We were a little nervous because we didn’t have a phone number for them, it was our first time being in China, and we didn’t speak the language. They did eventually pick us up and the next few days were kind of the same. We didn’t know what we were supposed to do; they hadn’t given us a schedule and didn’t do so until the night before we taught. When we got our schedule, we were informed that we would be teaching ages 2-18 instead of 12-16 like we’d been told. Things were a little bit rocky at the beginning and we were questioning ourselves as to what we had been thinking when we came to China. Home sickness definitely started creeping in the first few days.

After we began teaching, we realized the purpose of our journey to China in the first place was to help the children learn English so they could have a better life and we could gain different experiences in the process. It turned out to be a blessing that we had all ages and not just ages 12-16. This age group is our toughest by far and we absolutely love the older and younger kids. The kindergarten (ages 2-6) has some of our favorite classes! They are so cute.

We have a lot of free time and because we are in a tiny town, there isn’t a whole lot to do. We have discovered that taking walks to different places is one of our new favorite pass times. The people are so wonderful to us and instead of getting mad when we walk through their field (like a lot of farmers in America do), they love it and almost feel honored to have a foreigner walking through their field! We love getting out and mingling with the people. Each time we do we are offered at least some sort of food and most of the time they just want us to come have dinner with them (even though we can’t speak to much to them). We actually have a favorite fruit lady, as we call her; we go into her shop every couple weeks to buy a bunch of fruit and she is always so sweet to us and has never tried to rip us off. She lights up every time she sees us coming to her store again. This is just one example of the wonderful friends we enjoy making constantly. Everyone is your best friend even if you can’t talk to them!

The food was a little different and we had a little bit of difficulty getting used to it at the very beginning, but now we love most of the food. They have so many different kinds of vegetables, fruits, breads, and ways of cooking these that we have really come to love it! If you can get passed the way things look, or the fact that pigs and chicken feet are served so frequently, the food really is wonderful. At the beginning we didn’t like a lot of the food, but after being here for a while we decided to retry a lot of it. We have come to love a lot of the foods we thought we hated at the beginning.

We definitely took all the opportunities  we could to travel. This has been one of the best decisions we’ve made since coming to China. China is full of different cultures and so much history! We never knew a 1/100th of what we now about China. Each area not only has different cultures, sights, and histories, but even the food is different in each place! We have had so many wonderful experiences while traveling and would definitely suggest to everyone that comes to take time and be willing to spend a little money to tour the different areas!

There definitely will be times of homesickness; we haven’t met anyone yet that can say they haven’t been homesick from time to time. We’ve found that the best way to get out of these ruts is to emerge ourselves in the culture and to stay busy. We suggest bringing lots of books and other light projects. You will have lots of free time because you only teach 18-20 hours a week. If you are willing to get out and forget about a language barrier, the kids, teachers, and anyone else will always be happy to have you join them in their different activities.

There will always be things that are hard to deal with in any new place, but if you give these places a chance and learn to live and think as they think, people from different cultures don’t seem so alien anymore. They really are real people who think and act the same way we do! Over all, we have really loved our China experience and would and will suggest it to anyone who is willing to get out of their comfort zone. We promise that if you have a good attitude and the right desire, you will be changed for the better!

Terry Bitton and Sara Wiegman

Tongcheng, Anhui, China
China Horizons Fall 2007

 

I am so glad that I decided to step out of my comfort zone and come to China. China Horizons provides a great opportunity and it will surely be a chapter in my life I will NEVER forget. Xiangtan University has been a really fun learning experience. The students are eager to learn and want to be your best friend. They will gladly do anything for you and make you feel very welcome.

Living right on campus is really convenient and everything you would need to buy is here on campus. The food in Hunan is very spicy. If you don’t like spicy food learn how to say you don’t want spice. The restaurants here are delicious and the food on campus is much cheaper than outside because the government helps with some of the food cost. Lany, the liaison is incredible. She takes amazing care of us and she is very involved with the whole experience. She will help you with anything. Your co-teachers will help you a lot but sometimes give you short notice when there are schedule changes, so be aware of that.

Travel from Xiangtan is a little intimidating. The bus system is easy in town but to get out of town, you may want to take a student with you if you do not speak Chinese. There are some amazing places to see that are not too far away. ZhangJiaJie is only about 4 hours away by bus and very beautiful. Changsha is the capital and it is about an hour away by bus and there are a lot of fun things to do there. I think that anyone with a desire to experience China as a foreigner will love Xiangtan. Just come with an open mind, ready to be taught a new way of life different than what you are accustomed to. Don’t forget to have fun. It will be over before you know it!

Elizabeth Jenkins

Xiangtan, Hunan, China
China Horizons Winter 2008

 

Why go to China?
I had no idea it would be the best, most fun learning experience of my life! It was amazing. If I could sum it up in one word, I’d say, ‘Priceless’. It’s a whole different world. You come to love their strange way of living, that seems weird to us, but works for them. The food, the sights, the smells, the feeling, the noise; I miss it all! More than anything I miss their faces. I miss the sweet smiles of all my students, whom I will never forget. No matter what age, they will teach you so much more than you will teach them. They will teach you to be humble and kind; to be respectful and hardworking. They will give you an enthusiasm for learning. They will give you a greater appreciation for your own country and life. You will grow to love them.

Will it be easy? Yes, and at the same time, NO! It is very easy to grow to love the people, but some of the experiences there can be tough. It is a difficult and challenging vacation. It’s an adventure. It’s a journey. Sometimes I’d feel inadequate and ineffective as a teacher, but then they’d thank me for all that I was teaching them. Mostly we learned how to be happy. We taught each other that. They showed me how blessed I was, and I showed them how special they were.

I love and miss them so much, but I still get to talk to some of them through email. I hope I can go back someday.

GO to China.
You will never forget this experience.
They will never forget you.

Here’s an email from one of my students “Anna”…but she says, “Ama”:


Dear Tricia

We feel as if you are still our side, it felt really wonderful. Every day we almost always think you once. Can you feel it? Time flies quickly, but we feel you are still around us. Students often mention you, that they would like to see you again, but would like to know all of you in the United States. We do hope that we can meet again. We hope that you and your family can be happy. This is a very happy for us. I will tell my students that you miss us very much! We will miss you very much!

Ama

Tricia Packer

Linyi, Shandong, China
China Horizons Winter 2008

 

For several years I had wanted to live in China. In 2007 I searched out a few different agencies that helped send people to China to teach English. Most of them looked pretty good, but I never got a great feeling from any of them, until I found China Horizons. Everything they offered and represented was exactly what I was looking for. Jacob just bent over backwards to help me out and get me all ready to go to China. He was extremely personable and was willing to do anything to help.

I taught at Anhui University in Hefei. I loved teaching my students. I was a little apprehensive at first knowing I would be teaching college students, but quickly found myself feeling right at home in the classroom. I made my share of mistakes and had a few classes that didn’t go as planned, but the students were just always so willing and excited to learn that all of those potentially awkward situations were easily adverted. Teaching was fun, it was exciting, and of course it took some work, but it was the best job I have ever had, by far. The school treated me with a great deal of respect and did literally everything they could to make sure I was happy, comfortable, and satisfied.

My China experience was life changing. Living in China for six months changed my life in so many ways. I think differently, I have more confidence, I am more independent, and appreciative of life, just to name a few. Every day I am reminded of something from China that has considerably changed the way I look at life. I was also lucky enough to make so many amazing friends. Friends I will keep in touch with for years to come.

I love China, and am so grateful I had the chance to spend time living there. Being a teacher in China taught me far more than I  was able to teach any of my students. It was a memorable experience and is one of those events that significantly helps define who I am!

Spencer A Streeter

Hefei, Anhui, China
China Horizons Winter 2008

 

China, China, China, what to say about it? It was the most incredible and rewarding experience that I have ever had. The people are amazing, the students are so loving and willing to help, and Jacob Harlan is the best! There were times when it was tough because I felt like nobody could understand me, but there was always someone there to offer support and help. Teaching was more of a learning experience for me than I think it was for them. It did take some time to adjust to the different culture and the food, but nothing that you can’t handle with a little patience. Traveling around was scary at first, but once we got the hang of things, it was something that we needed to keep us from having too much time on our hands. I think it is important to get around your city and explore! Keep yourself busy; don’t allow yourself to sit at your apartment and think about home, and all the amazing food that you miss. Because if you do, then you’ll be missing out on all the amazing people you can meet and the adventures you can have. I would recommend this experience to everyone!! WO AI ZHONG GUO!!!

Amber Bingham

Yongzhou, Hunan, China
China Horizons Spring 2009

 

While trying to decide what to do with my off track I found a Teaching English in China opportunity. It seemed like the opportunity of a lifetime. At first I could not see why I would not want to go, but as the time drew near I realized that not only was this an opportunity of a lifetime but it was also a life changing experience and I needed to be sure I wanted to go. I like many others had doubts about going to China before going. I also, like many others now, having been to China have no doubts going to China was not only one of the best decisions of my life but also one of the most fun times I have ever had.

What made the experience was the people and the place. I took into account that I would be going to China, what I had always considered to be a whole different world rather than just a different country. I climbed the Great Wall of China and walked in the same place as Chinese royalty in The Forbidden City. My breath was taken away by the Hong Kong Skyline, and I even rode on a bamboo raft in what I consider one of the most beautiful places in the entire world. All these experiences were things that I had hoped for from going to China. What I did not forsee was the opportunity to personally impact the lives of each of my 863 students. Even more so than that, I did not expect my students to have such a huge impact on me. The Chinese people and students were not the only people I forgot to take into account before going. The other English teachers that I went with grew in 5 months to be some of the closest friends I have ever had. There are many doubts and reasons for not going to China, but after returning, I can honestly say there are far more reasons to go than there are to not go.

Sam Brubaker

Shuangpai, Hunan, China
China Horizons Spring 2009

 

I taught English to children aged 2- 7 in Zhenjiang, China. I am so glad I went to China. Every day was an adventure, from eating pig brain, to teaching a new song to my adorable students, to getting lost on the buses, to wrapping zongzi for the Dragon Boat Festival. I went to China as I teacher, but I was really a student learning about their culture, their politics, their history, their perspective. Aside from the great work experience China Horizons gave me, I gained a love for the people of Zhenjiang.

Anna Moore

Zhenjiang, Jiangsu, China
China Horizons Spring 2009

 

Everyone’s experience in China will be unique. Just because your best friend’s brother’s roommate had the ultimately best time possible in China with the sweetest apartment and the most well-behaved students, doesn’t mean you’ll get that too. Sometimes you end up on the bottom rung with the crappiest place and the worst kids, with a school that doesn’t really want to help you. But even if you get the short end of the deal, there’s always something good that can come of it. Not having the best accommodations makes you appreciate what you have at home more. And having a school that isn’t the most cooperative makes you more self-reliant, especially when it comes to finding stuff. If you can find what you want in China, you can find ANYTHING. And there’s something to be said of learning patience from others…

So before you make the decision to come to China you need to first ask yourself a few questions: (1) Do I really like REAL Chinese food? It’s not always what you expect. If the answer to that question is no, then expect to eat nothing but fruit and crackers (if you can find that in your area) for the next few months. (2) Do I become easily aggravated? Silly question, perhaps, but if the answer is yes, then you might want to take a few anger management classes before you go to China. Things here will get to you if you don’t know how to let the little things (and sometimes even the big things) slide. (3) Can I handle not knowing what anybody is talking about? If you don’t speak Chinese, then you will have no clue what anyone’s saying. So if you’re an impetuously curious little imp, then you might want to learn a little bit of Chinese before you go to China. Otherwise, you can live in blissful ignorance of what’s being said around you. Sometimes it comes in handy ;o). (4) Am I judgmental? If you have a tendency to be so, then being in China will be hard for you. One thing you have to remember is that the Chinese culture is almost the complete opposite of Western culture.

They definitely don’t do things the same way here, and if you find yourself frowning at every imagined social faux pas, then you’ll end up looking like the Grinch that stole Christmas before he turned good by the end of your stay. As the saying goes, when in Rome…but you’re going to China, so do a little bit of homework before you go so that things don’t come as quite a shock. ;)

Barbara Octaviani

Changzhou, Jiangsu, China
China Horizons Fall 2006/Winter 2007

 

“A year ago I was looking for an adventure and really wanted to do something that would help me become the person I want to be… that is when I found China Horizons! As soon as I heard about the program I knew it was something I wanted to do. I wanted to serve the people in that part of the world. I didn’t know ANY Chinese which made the experience all the more fun. Lets just say I am really good at charades now. :) I miss my students everyday. Their love for learning and desire to be the best motivates me. After being in China, I feel so much more independent and strong. I truly feel like I can do ANYTHING. At one point I really had to dig deep and find strength I didn’t even know I had in me. I wouldn’t trade anything for the 5 months I had in China and I would do it again in a heart beat. Wo ai Zhong Guo!!!!”

Megan Turnmire

Yongzhou, Hunan, China
China Horizons Spring 2009

 

While serving a mission in Sydney, Australia, I taught and made friends with many Chinese people. Later in college, I took as many classes that had anything to do with China as I could. I studied Asian Geography, History, Religion, and Philosophy and I minored in Asian Studies. Still, I felt like there was something missing.

“Teaching in China was the most exciting and adventurous experience I had during college.”

Although I had studied China, I didn’t feel like I could really understand China without having been there. And that is where China Horizons helped me. I was able to teach in Hunan, China where I got to experience the real China. I didn’t just talk to people who were from China. I didn’t just read about China in a book. I experienced China. I ate real Chinese food. I made real Chinese friends. I saw the places of China. I lived the Chinese way of life. Teaching in China was the most exciting and adventurous experience I had during college. There are things you learn from living in China that you cannot learn in a classroom. I am so glad I taught in China when I did instead of waiting until I was older because that invaluable experience is something I will have with me for the rest of my life.”

Sean Wood

Huaihua, Hunan, China
China Horizons Spring 2009

 

Living in China was such an adventure! At first I was pretty scared to do it because I was going there without knowing anyone and I was pretty happy staying in my little comfort zone. But I decided to put those little things behind me and go for it. It was by far one of the hardest but best decisions of my life! My favorite parts of being in China was teaching my students, traveling on my free time, and getting to know the people. The Chinese are the most friendly, humble, and giving people and they want you to love China as much as they love China. I love my students. I feel like they taught me more than I could ever teach them but I know I made a difference by being there. I made so many good relationships with my students as well as the people I saw everyday (the fruit stand lady, the restaurant family, the bakery woman… and so many more!). I love the Chinese culture and eating with chopsticks everyday! You would think since I didn’t know any Chinese and didn’t have any experience as a teacher, I would have a hard time…but to be honest, it was amazing. I have been longing to go back to china and I know I will go back sometime in the near future. I am so grateful for China Horizons and the experience it allowed me to have. It changed my outlook on life and it definitely made me a better person.

Veronica Zanini

Yangzhou, Hunan, China
China Horizons Spring 2009

 

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