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Message from the Director

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When I was a young man, in the time between completing my undergraduate and beginning my masters degree, and again in the time between completing my masters degree and beginning my doctorate, I took time off to work, to get out of the library and to see what the world was like. During both of these periods I went tree planting along the west coast of Canada. This was a rough, mud-caked job, and my co workers were mostly hairy French Canadians. We lived in our own tents, and spent our days stumbling up and down grim mountainsides, through bracken and bramble, and in some cases through napalmed landscape. Celtic DeerIt was a great adventure, sure, but at the same time it was a very difficult way of life. We would work for ten days straight and then have one day off. During the ten days working we could not shower or change clothes: our hands and feet were calloused and blistered; our bodies welted and swollen with every sort of insect bite. Sometimes bears stole our food from under our pillows while we slept.
Although I am happy to have had this experience when I was young, I really wish that I had taught English in China instead. As far as developing skills that might have been of use for my future, tree planting gave me preparation only for a job involving manual labour. As for dealing with people, or preparing and presenting ideas, it did nothing. Also, it was an awfully hard and lonely life. People who come to teach English in China have a laid back life teaching only 18 or so 40 minute periods per week, and they can use their free time to meet new people or to better themselves in some way.
I have been in Beijing for eight years, and I love it here. Admittedly, it does not have the natural beauty of Ireland, or Canada, but the people here are wonderful. Furthermore, every day I am faced with the shock of the new: everyday I see something that I have never seen, or even imagined seeing before.
Of course, it is a big step into the unknown to come to China: this is part of the enticement, of course, but it should also be a reason for hesitation. It is very possible for a teacher to step into a nightmare scenario here, to be cheated, used, stranded or coerced. This, however, will never happen at Aihua. To any teachers who come to work at Aihua, I give my word of honour that we will abide by the terms of our contract.

Furthermore, while you are with us I will consider your well being to be my primary responsibility: I will not hold your hand every step of the way, as finding your way through a strange new world is the most interesting part, but if, god forbid, something happens, the school, and all of our people, will be ready to support you.
Sincerely,
David Cotter

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The Aihua Boxing Club, by Rob Warman

 

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I came to Beijing to work for Aihua last September. It is very easy to be kept busy here, whether it be work or just interesting things to do around Beijing. I have defiantly missed a few things from back home however. The first, friends and family. The second, roast dinners. The third, boxing.

A little while back, David Cotter introduced me to a local boxing gym. I was amazed there was anything like this in the local area. There are many different normal gyms around here but nothing to really interest me like this. It couldn’t have come at a better time to be honest because the gradual weight had been piling on from all the Beijing beers and Chinese food!

So I started training. Firstly, with just David Cotter but over the weeks other teachers began to show their interest and joined us. The gym has several heavy bags, a speed ball, a sparring and shadow boxing area, and some free weights.
It’s been great training with different levels, sizes, and nationalities over the last few months. I think we have all learned a little from each other.

celtic-man-1_FotorWe have regular sparring sessions, fitness on the bags and pads, and we even do weight lifting on the days that we are too tired to box.

There are various Chinese fighters who train down there occasionally too. I have heard there are classes there in the evenings so I am considering going down with some of the other teachers to see how the Chinese boys do it. Wish us luck!

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Climbing Xiang Shan, by James Benson

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The day started with an early alarm, and when I woke up I was relieved to see the sun was shining and it was going to be a nice day to be outside. At 7am we left the apartment and went down to meet some Aihua colleagues at the bus stop to travel to the mountains together. When we arrived, all the staff were in good spirits and everyone was starting to feel competitive. We were put into our teams, and given colored ribbons to distinguish ourselves from the others, and with everyone ready we embarked on our challenge.
To begin with everybody stuck together but it wasn’t long until the competitive streak took over some of the staff and a gap started to appear between those there for the scenery and those who were there to win. As the sun got higher the temperature increased and the climb got harder and harder. Every flat stage was a welcome break from the steps, but everybody persevered and kept on climbing. Soon there was just a handful of staff clear from the pack as people began to tire but instead of stopping to rest I decided to continue, having a background in fitness and good knowledge of correct breathing techniques helped me to get to the front and keep on climbing.
Throughout the climb, the scenery was amazing and it looked great when I turned to see a sea of red shirts coming up the steps behind me with all the trees in the background. I turned back, looked down and just kept walking, the next time I looked up I was happy to see I had not only made it to the top but I had made it there first. There was just time for a congratulatory handshake and a sip of water before Paul finished behind me. Both tired and glad to be at the top we had a chance to take in the incredible views before welcoming the next few members of staff to the top.
As more and more people made it up the mountain it was great to see everybody so happy with all of us congratulating each other on what was a greater challenge than any of us expected. After some photos and the award ceremony it was time to head back down the hill, some opted for the cable car whilst a handful of us walked down the longer, more scenic route.
The walk down was full of amazing views, from the top all the way to the bottom the trees were blossoming and the flowers blooming, Spring is a great time to visit the Fragrant Hills. Eventually we all got to the bottom and it was time for a well earned rest in the afternoon for everybody that took part.

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2012 ten year party

Aihua’s 10 Year Anniversary Party

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These photos are from a party we had to celebrate 10 years since the school was founded. Many teachers gave perfromances while the rest of us enjoyed the great food and drink:-)

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Spring 2013 Activities

 

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Aihua teachers went on a series of spring activities last spring. Activities included, climbing a mountain, a trip to the desert, and Easter games for children in a local park.