In Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, East China, a vibrant international community, including families like Indian teacher Rahul’s, thrives in a fusion of cultures and traditions. Rahul, having worked at Ningbo Huamao Foreign Language School for nearly five years, walks the campus grounds with a deep sense of belonging, accompanied by his wife and child.
Rahul’s journey in international education spans several countries, but his decision to accept an offer in China was immediate. At Huamao Foreign Language School, a K-12 institution, he teaches in the high school, while his wife Preetha educates middle school students. Their son is also enrolled in the middle school. The family has embraced Chinese culture, particularly its emphasis on family values and gratitude, which resonates deeply with them.
Preetha, intrigued by the parallels between Chinese and Indian proverbs, particularly appreciates the shared virtues in both cultures. Inspired to contribute beyond the classroom, she initiated an “organic planting club” at the school. This club involves students from various countries in planting activities, fostering a hands-on learning experience about farming. The school encourages such initiatives, aligning with the belief that each child represents a unique world, a concept resonating with Confucian teaching methods.
Meanwhile, in a kindergarten classroom, a young girl named Sofia, daughter of Colombian father Espejo and Japanese mother Fujimoto Sayaka, recites the San Zi Jing, or the Three Character Classic. The family, who initially communicated in Spanish and Japanese, now also converses in Chinese, a testament to their children’s growing affinity for the language.
Espejo, an academic who has taught in various countries, notes that misconceptions about China abound internationally. However, living in China has broadened his perspective, especially as he delves into Chinese poetry and drama and embraces everyday customs like carrying a thermos cup.
Another international teacher, Roberts from South Africa, along with her husband and two children, have fully integrated into the Ningbo lifestyle. Originally attracted to China for safety and financial stability, Roberts has found a deeper sense of community and belonging. At Huamao school, she collaborates closely with Chinese colleagues in lesson planning and enjoys everyday activities like shopping and exploring local cuisine.
Roberts, adept in the Ningbo dialect, shares her family’s adventures across China, from Harbin’s ice exhibitions to Sanya’s speedboats, captivating her social media followers with China’s diverse landscapes. She reflects on the warmth of the people, the communal spirit during festivals, and the sense of home she feels in Ningbo.
These stories of international educators in Ningbo highlight a rich tapestry of cultural exchange and mutual understanding. They reveal how foreign families, through education and daily life, become woven into the fabric of their adopted community, finding a new home and a renewed sense of belonging in China.