When I've told people I am teaching English in Hunan Province, those even slightly familiar with the area say, "Oh, the spicy place." Hunan is known for its hot weather, hot food and hot personalities. (Perhaps the most famous Hunanese is Mao Zedong.)
On Aug. 2 I arrive in Changsha, the provincial capital, for three weeks of teacher training and orientation with WorldTeach. My school placement is in the countryside, in a town called Lengshuijiang, which translates to "Cold Water River." Lengshuijiang is about 150 miles southwest of Changsha, or a four-hour bus ride.
The previous teacher at the school tells me in an e-mail that the city is small but has everything I need, including two bars and a roller disco. My school is Loudi Foreign Language Middle School. The classes are huge -- 90 students. And in comparing countryside to city students, she wrote, "You won't have a problem with shy students," and "They are loud and in your face." She assures me I should not feel overwhelmed.
I will try to update this blog more than once a week. However, WorldTeach has warned the teachers that many popular sites are currently blocked by the Chinese government due to the recent ethnic clashes in Xinjiang Province.
According to an e-mail from WorldTeach, blocked sites include:
United Nations News
Human Rights Watch
Anything related to Tibet, Taiwan, or Human Rights
Practically all blogging sites
I hope I can find a way to get around the block. If not, look out for e-mail updates from me.