Teaching English: Wuhan, China... No Summertime Sadness!

Back again? Yes, I am back! This time things haven't been done in a timely manner but I'm more than alright about that! My time working in Wuhan, China came to an end in July 2017 but I am ready for one more instalment because, why not? In this 2021 moment the need to appreciate that first time experience feels more necessary than ever! My thoughts are together, let's begin! 

As the Summer of 2017 approached, I did not know how much I would miss that scenic looking Wuhan housing community, no! Even the bus commute that remained questionable since the Line 2 Metro Southern Extension works had made it chaotic everyday, those traffic jams would be missed in a twisted manner. Even the everyday Wuhan breakfast food that I had become accustomed to would be missed, what I would do for a container of 热干面(Hot 'n' Dry Noodles) would be something very illegal! When the kids would be napping in their classrooms, tired of the campus food I would wander through the manicured gardens to an exit that I had discovered during my second year at the campus. Through that almost secret exit I found a hype of activity, the Hui Muslim noodle restaurant had me going back for more most days! With the super cheap price for such great food, I snuck out of the campus to enjoy a plate of 土豆牛肉 (Potatoes with Beef) because those flavours sure impressed me much! It was all about food, glorious food! 好吃!

Away from the food choices, during my commute to and from that Etonkids Kindergarten Campus in Wuhan, I would get to say 'hello' and 'goodbye' to 恒大华府 (Evergrande Washington). To me, that super swish Wuhan neighbourhood meant more than the actual kindergarten campus, those high-end surroundings away from the classroom gave me a scenic and quiet environment. Scenic and quiet for Wuhan meant for me to be at East Lake or some other place that wasn't utter madness. My centrally located Guanggu Square living location had many amenities but that noise sometimes became a little too much. Throughout the week and during those occasional weekend work days, I would be able to soak up the sun beside the man-made lake within Hengda Huafu. During lunch time I would be able to walk through the gardens, where I would see Grandparents pushing their Grandchildren along the way in their pushchairs. Those Wuhan Grandparents were super, super proud! 恒大华府 was like a town! 是!

My first semester at Etonkids Wuhan had me feeling comfortable, changing that walk along easy-street because the principal had some grand plans for me! I had snatched this teaching gig by a stroke of luck, I didn't know what the expectations were from Head Office nor the English Department during those first few months. Material making and hand crafting my own teaching aides would be something that I had to learn independently and fast! If I could look back from my final year in Beijing to those early attempts that I made in Wuhan, I wouldn't be mad by those humble beginnings because I had to get with the programme! My wall displays were in their infancy and if truth be told, I had never made a wall display before in my life! Maybe I was winging it? Maybe I had struck gold? The academic leader at the time really put me through my paces but when one of the teachers took her place, that was truly the blessed that I needed! I had to start somewhere, Wuhan helped me become better one display at a time. Of course, 武汉市! 

From the principals office to the art room, I spent those break times making language materials and after some work I had made a language board for my classes. My fellow teaching friends were sleeping in their job roles at nearby public schools that only required them to teach from a textbook, I made my time count because I didn't have a textbook to rely on! Taking inspiration from the monthly books and English Department topic, I would make my materials and class aides with whatever I could find in the art room. It was a challenge to make something outstanding with what I had on offer, regardless I made it work because I no other choice! When I look back to my Beijing days, I had my materials in another league and those classroom essentials had their own price tag. Whichever way, I made both operations work with the resources and finances available to me at the time. Wuhan gave me those foundations, without those core strengths, without the mistakes made I wouldn't have grown! Bootleg is brilliant!  

Slipping back into Summer, when the classroom became too stuffy we took the learning outside. We as in myself and the children, I remember the one time when we went around the outside of the campus grounds with corresponding flashcards. With those flashcards, we would match up things like 'doors', 'trees', 'plants' and maybe even the 'gate?' I use the question mark because my memory has gone a bit blank, but with those real-life connections we were able to make memories in the sunshine. Only seeing the children once per day for 30 minutes didn't give me enough time to hear them speak English a lot but I tried my best and that counted. During other outings, we went to the nearby 马鞍山森林公园 (Ma'anshan Forest Park) for an art exhibition, the children painted away for the whole morning after we had completed some energetic outdoor games. I went over to a boy who's English name was 'Joy', with his parents and out of nowhere he hugged me and said to me '你是我的英国爸爸! That means 'You are my UK Dad!' J!

When all is said and done, those two Summers spent at that first campus in Wuhan were amazing even if the weather turned the heat right up! During July 2017, I had seen another English teacher from the same company make craft juice box/cartons with his students! I wanted to do that! Preparing the materials was not a problem because I was a professional at that point with a pair of scissors! The children loved making their juice box/carton arty creations, they pretended to drink as the Chinese teachers took photos for their parents to see. Moving onto Beijing for the following semester was the plan, I had spent two worthwhile years working in Wuhan. Those Summertime memories will stay with me forever and a day, it was a special time! No, nothing felt negative because I had the children to teach and if truth be told, I had the best job! From those art outings to my lunch times spent eating my secret Hui Muslim dishes, that Hengda Huafu experience was a winner even if the Summer was hotter than hot! W!

Wuhan, 加油! 

Joseph Harrison 


  1. This sounds so much fun. I regret not teaching abroad. Cool blog.

    1. Many memories made and a lot of fun!

      Capture every moment and regret nothing!

      Joseph - Desperately Seeking Adventure

  2. Living abroad looks like such an adventure! I have lived in my home town since I was born but would love to move in the future. Thanks for sharing your experiences x

    Lynn | https://www.lynnmumbingmejia.com

    1. Lynn, thank you so much for your comment!

      Absolutely, I feel immensely privileged to have lived overseas.

      Spreading my wings was never not an option, it was a must!

      Joseph - Desperately Seeking Adventure


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