Article by Ring
Can you introduce yourself? Job title, educational background, languages, hobbies, your family etc.
My name is Jin Zhou. Currently I work at Qujiang No.1 high school as an English teacher as well as a head teacher. I graduated from Shaanxi Normal University in 2012, where I got a Masters of Education in English Teaching and two bachelor’s degrees, one in biology and one in English. I’ve also got a certificate for Teachers of Chinese to Speakers of Other Languages from the Confucius Institute. I have a lot of hobbies, including watching movies and playing switch. I also enjoy a lot of outdoor activities like bicycling, skiing, hiking etc.
Are you from Xi’an? If no, why did you come here?
I came from a small town close to Xi’an. I moved to Xi’an because I went to college here and after I graduated, I started working here.
What do you do every day? What is normal schedule like? What is not “normal” work for you?
I’m a high school teacher in a public school, and I teach national curriculum English. I work from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM every day. Apart from that, I’m also in an experimental teaching program called the Immersion Language Teaching where I teach English through the content of other subjects like geography and physics. In my free time, I sometimes host the pub quiz in Xi’an and I’m also a part time writer for the local magazine Xianease.
What are your most impressive accomplishments? What accomplishments might not impress an average person, but you are particularly proud of?
I’m very proud to share that in 2016 and 2017, my boyfriend and I organized a summer program in Ghana, West Africa and we led a team of Chinese high school volunteers there. The program included teaching about Chinese culture to local kids as well as doing social entrepreneurship courses. We taught students both from China and Ghana to understand local social problems by trying to create their own social enterprises. Our team even got a chance to meet consular officers at the Chinese Embassy in Accra, Ghana.
The second is an organization I co-founded with Gosia and Marcella around six months ago, which is called AWE, Aspiring Women for Excellence. Recently we hosted a charity party on December 11th where we raised more than 5,000 RMB to support Xi’an Xinxin Special Children Developing Center. I’ve been volunteering for them for 3 years and I really admire the founder, Zhangmama (张妈妈), who set up this school for her autistic child to prove that he can learn to live independently, breaking the stereotypes held by others who kept telling her otherwise.
What are the biggest challenges you face in general and as a woman? Why do you think these challenges exist?
Professionally, I think that as a woman, I can do work just as good or better than that of my male colleagues, but often will not get the same recognition. The stereotype is that men are more capable in what they’re doing, and people tend to listen to men more.
I think in my life, there are also social and family pressures about marriage and motherhood. I should be the one to decide instead of being pressured by others since I have to be responsible for the consequences.
What are your goals for this year? 5 years?
I had a goal to get promoted to the high school department. Now that I’m here, my next goal is to be recognized and certified as an exceptional teacher in my school district.
As for my five-year plan, I plan to get an advanced teacher’s certificate and apply for a Ph.D. program.
What motivated you to choose the career/path that you have today?
I did not plan to be a teacher, but because I attended Shaanxi Normal University, one of the top teachers’ colleges in China, I naturally was prepared for the job. Only after I started teaching, I realized that I really enjoy lecturing people and telling students what to do (Sorry to my boyfriend :D) I’m an idealistic person: I think my life goal is to change the world, and that being a teacher is one of the best ways to accomplish this. When I’m teaching students, I’m also teaching the families behind them, including their next generation, so I’m changing the future.
What are the most important character traits you think someone who want to pursue such career should possess?
If you have the desire to change the world and to do something meaningful, then being a teacher is a good choice. Teachers need to be very empathetic, since you have to constantly think from the perspective of students to figure out the best way to learn. You need to be patient, because some students need to be taught over and over again.
What advice do you have for other women, Chinese or foreign, who are looking to further their careers?
For whoever wants to make progress, they have to keep learning because a lot of people stop learning new things. This is because they thought they already have enough experience and a good routine. However, I think no matter how knowledgeable or experienced you are, you should keep on learning. You need to keep an open mind and pay attention to anything that might benefit your future.