Hailing from the Big Apple, Sylvie is a seasoned educator with over 4 years of experience in teaching and developmental consultation. Her fluency in Mandarin and familiarity with cultural nuances in China has given her a special edge in providing Chinese students with tailored educational and developmental support. She holds a M.A. degree from Columbia University.
What motivates you to work in the field of education?
Though many would say that education is the key to success, considering that success is a highly relative concept, I would prefer to categorize education as a process of handing the students a set of tools for them to design and forge a future in accordance to their own ideals. I've personally experienced the benefits of having my perspectives broaden and critical thinking skills sharpen, thanks to many dedicated and highly professional educators w
ho have provided me with caring and vital guidance at various junctures in my life. Because of this, I decided it would only be right for me to pay it forward and in turn do the same for my students in the future. From a more personal perspective, I believe that learning is part of many aspects in life, and for that education is an excellent vehicle to celebrate the wealth and depth of our lives. That said, working in the field of education is not just an occupation, but also a way of life for many educators like myself.
What did you hope to gain through your year or two of working and living in China?
My decision to travel half-way across the world to work in China is one that's been made with a combination of professional, academic, and personal considerations in mind. As a young professional, I saw great benefits in broadening my professional exposures aboard, especially in areas that coincide with my academic expertise. Having spent the vast majority of my early career working in the U.S., albeit in highly diverse environments, my work experience in China could provide me with some meaningful exposures to norms and nuances that are unique to China's social and professional settings. In other words, I hope to use this experience to strengthen my adaptability and cross-cultural communication skills. Another major reason for my decision to work in China is its wealth of cultural heritage and resources. As an avid learner of Chinese modern history, I was thrilled by the business trip opportunities I get sometimes to travel to and explore different cities in China. Having studied Chinese history in school, I was more than grateful for the opportunity to experience historically significant sites with my own eyes, such as the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum in the city of Nanjing and the Shamian Island in Guangzhou.
A dual citizen of Spain and the U.S., Alan Adame has been working at GreatChina full-time since June 2016. Alan holds an M.Ed. from Vanderbilt University in International Education Policy & Management, and a B.A. from Brown University in International Relations. He has worked in the field of international education for two years, with a particular interest in expanding education access & quality, and facilitating student exchange.
Do you feel like GreatChina encourages its staff to take initiative or be creative in their work?
At GreatChina, there is flexibility to carry out innovative ideas or projects. For example, I’ve offered, and was approved, to prepare materials for a power point presentation on making master’s study in the U.S. more affordable for Chinese students through specific scholarships, university resources, and part-time work opportunities. GreatChina staff for the most part openly welcomes creative ideas that benefit student development and organizational efficiency.
What have some of the challenges been so far in terms of living in China and the work that you do?
In China, you have to “roll with the punches”, as a friend told me who spent three years living and working in China. Patience is key, and you can’t let the unexpected disappointments or obstacles in your daily life ruin the overall experience. You may face issues with housing contracts, loud neighbors, people sneezing on you or bumping into you routinely. These are issues of space, and if you are easily annoyed by crowds, I recommend living walking distance to work and avoiding public transportation on week-day rush hours.
At GreatChina, most of your co-workers will of course be Chinese, and so you will be immersed in a Chinese cultural working environment. Because of this, I have felt lonely at times. I recommend considering your work environment as a unique learning opportunity into an aspect of Chinese culture, and being friendly and regularly engaging in conversation with your Chinese coworkers. For the most part, they are all friendly and interested in getting to know you better.
What kind of support or assistance did GreatChina staff give in helping you to move and adjust to living in China?
My experience with GreatChina staff has been overwhelmingly positive. A GreatChina staff was at the airport for pick-up when I first arrived to China to start working with the company, and transportation to the hotel was provided and arranged in advance. The staff offers support and full funding for all visa-related expenses, and provided social networking support to adjust socially to the city. Also, the company provided Mandarin lessons twice a week to help me advance my language goals.
What motivates you to work in the field of education?
I am motivated to work in the field of education because education is highly influential yet poorly understood. Education is the cornerstone of national development and of human capital formation for the success of a country’s future economic development. Education is a crime-reducer, as statistics show crime rates lower as education levels rise. Educational opportunity engenders trust in government institutions and fortifies social cohesion, both important for overall happiness and productivity among citizenry. Early age instruction deeply influences one’s perception, confidence and outlook on the world, and perceived opportunities to operate therein. In sum, education motivates me because facilitating greater opportunities and perspectives for students means improving our world.