Tianjin Journals

Tianjin, Rustic

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A February 2006 trip to Tianjin by Paul Bacon

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Quote: Tianjin may well be a big and modern city, but I live in a small town just outside giving a very different view.

Be Careful What You Wish For

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Quote:
Before I set out to teach in China, I had it in mind to find a challenge. I was looking for a school and a situation I could describe as 'real', a taste of what China is truly like as it were. When I began teaching English in Asia I was fortunate enough to find my first job at a well-funded and well-equipped private language school in Korea. Whilst this proved to be tremendous fun, my well adorned surroundings made me feel that the whole experience was just that little bit too easy. My classroom was brightly decorated and came chock full of teaching aids such as a computer and a vast array of books, CDs and flashcards. Also, because the school was so advanced, many of the students already spoke a quit...Read More

The Cult of Celebrity

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The Chinese school at which I worked proved to be both a shock to the system and a massive challenge. Classes numbered between 40 and 50 children, and the facilities I was provided with were as basic as could be. The whole point of my working in the small town of Dawufeng though, was to get a glimpse of 'real' China, a taste of the ethnic as it were. So, when I arrived I was well prepared for at least some of the problems that I faced. However, in no way, shape, or form was I prepared for the reception I got from the children. It is worth nothing that Dawufeng is not the most cosmopolitan of locales. It is situated between the city of Tianjin and the port of Tanggu. The two are separated by 50k...Read More

A Serious Wake-Up Call

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The first slithers of morning light were gently permeating through my curtains. They were of positively no interest to me though, as I rolled over and descended back into a rather joyous slumber. With my head buried into my pillow, my eyelids began to flutter as I drifted into REM sleep. It was my first morning in my new home in Dawufeng, Tianjin. Unfortunately though, both my dreams and my lazy morning in my new bed were cut short by a distant, but piercing shriek. I am of such a lazy disposition that the noise worked merely as though it were a gentle nudge to my shoulder, ushering in the vague direction of consciousness. As I battled against the frightening prospect of waking completely, a sec...Read More

Dickensian Dawufeng

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Quote:
Dawufeng is an industrial town built on a patch of land just a couple of kilometres wide, which sits between a giant pipe factory and an almost equally vast metallurgical plant. Everyone in town either works for or has some connection with one of the factories. Their all-encompassing influence can be seen quite easily when you consider that the school at which I work was universally known as the Pipe Company School, and that the town's station on Tianjin's light railway system is not called Dawufenng, but rather Steel Pipe Co. Despite the Chinese government still clinging to the rapidly evaporating image of a Communist system, Dawufeng gives the impression of having more in common with the Engl...Read More

A losing battle

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Going into a school, where classes regularly approached 40 or 50 children and which lacked everything save for the most basic of facilities, ensured that my teaching experience in China never looked like being an easy one. So it proved, no matter how innovative I tried to be or how much energy I threw at the seas of young faces before me, it was just impossible to reach everyone. Accepting the limitations of my situation was relatively simple. It took only s few weeks for me to abandon the concept of making sweeping all-encompassing improvements in my pupil's English. It was clear that with just forty minutes each week for most classes, my influence could never be huge. However, what troubled me ...Read More

An-Jing

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It was a bitterly cold Sunday afternoon when I first met An Jing. I had hot-footed it back to Tianjin that morning on a hideously crowded train from Beijing. I had spent the previous evening at the Den swilling beer and watching FA Cup football. Thankfully I managed to get back just in time to meet my new teaching assistant. She walked into my apartment at just after 3pm. I was shocked to see that she was nearly as tall as I was. When she removed her high-heeled boots she dropped a few centimetres, but nevertheless made quite an impression. It was an interesting first meeting. The name An Jing in Mandarin translates to "be quiet". This seemed very fitting as for the first few moments she sat acros...Read More