Western China—Buddhas and Ponies and Pandas; Oh My!
Most teaching positions in China are concentrated in the southern and eastern parts of the country, as these are the most developed areas as of right now. However, there is a growing demand for teachers in the western provinces as they develop their economies and look to increase their English speaking capabilities. My first teaching job in China was in city of Yulin in Shaanxi province, a few hours north of the metropolitan capital city of Xi’an. This area along the Yellow River watershed is widely considered to be one of the cradles of Chinese civilization, and historical and cultural sights abound in the area. Teaching ESL in China gave me the opportunity to visit some of these locations and it can give you the same opportunity! Here are a couple of the highlights from my travels in Western China (all the pictures are mine by the way, but they could be yours!):
Located outside of Datong in Shanxi province; the art and statues in these caves are 1500+ years old. The caves have been preserved as a UNESCO world heritage site and are truly breathtaking:
The Steppes of Inner Mongolia:
A large portion of the Mongolian steppe is actually located within China’s borders. The vastness of the landscape is difficult to comprehend, and while the traditional nomadic way of life is slowing dying off, there are still opportunities to experience life as it once was (horseback riding on undersized ponies and traditional wrestling with a Mongolian man optional)
One of the original capitals of ancient China, this ancient city used to be the starting point for the Silk Road; which carried silk manufactured in China west to Rome and beyond. It has the largest intact city walls in China and the surrounding area is home to the Terracotta Army and Hua Shan (one of the five great Taoist mountains in China)
Did I mention pandas?
Teaching abroad in China gives you the opportunity to see all of this and more. Geographically speaking China is virtually the same area as the United States…when you include Alaska. With 1.3 billion people, the cultural variations across the country can be striking as well. China is a lot more than just Beijing and Shanghai, so expand your search and broaden your horizons! You never know what you might find when you teach abroad in China.