Our Recent Amity Teacher’s Conference
While my second year students were starting their classes a few weeks ago, I was still out of the classroom, attending Amity’s 4-day teacher’s meeting in Nanjing.
Just before Amity teachers head off to their schools to start the new year, we have a gathering in Nanjing, Amity’s headquarters. There we meet new teachers, have time to catch up and receive updates from the staff about upcoming projects or our education division.
One of the newest developments for our teacher’s program is the Young Teachers’ Program.
Currently, Amity has 2 different foreign language teaching programs.
The first is the Amity Teacher’s Program, of which I am a part. Teachers are required to have a university degree, receive some sort of ESL (English as a Second Language) training course, and commit to teaching English for 2 years at the college level. Salary stands at 3,500 yuan a month ($522 US, paid by the Chinese school) and $400 US a month paid by sending agencies. Housing and utilities are provided for free by the school.
This teachers’ program was the first Amity established, running since 1986.
The second program, the Young Teachers’ Program, started last year in 2009.
In this program, young people ages 18 to 35 are invited by Amity to teach at the junior high school level in China for 1 year. A high school diploma is required but no ESL or teaching training is necessary. These young people are paired together and teach 10 hours a week at Chinese middle schools, currently in Gansu Province to the far north. Housing is provided and a salary of 1,300 yuan a month ($194) is given by the hosting school.
This year, all our young teachers are from Germany. They have adequate English skills to allow them to instruct in English at a junior high level.
All new teachers, adult or youth, must also spend 3 weeks in China participating in the Amity Orientation where staff and seasoned Amity teachers help the new people adjust to life in China. Sessions on the Chinese school system, Chinese culture, helpful teaching tips, the Chinese church, language and important daily life suggestions are included. New teachers also practice teach on their own Chinese tutors, those of all ages, who likewise attend the orientation not only as Chinese teachers but as guinea pigs in an English language classroom.
It’s a great orientation but certainly does exhaust one by the end.
By the time our new teachers finally land in Nanjing for our 4-day meeting, they are pretty much eager to move on to their schools and begin life in China. This is one reason why our summer Amity conference might very well be canceled next year. Everyone, including the older Amity teachers, just want to immediately return to our teaching placements to start up the new year.
For this year, however, it was the summer conference as usual.
A Few Pleasant Outings
While we might complain a bit about the conference, we had two highlights this year.
One was a leisure boat trip down the Yangtze river basin in Nanjing. The other was a visit to Amity’s new office building, which has been greatly needed over the years.
The former Amity office building is on Nanjing’s historical register and was built in 1920. According to the historical, the structure was the private dwelling of Chen Yuguang, a former President of Jinling University. It was located just a few hundred yards from Pearl Buck’s apartment where she wrote The Good Earth many years ago, making the area just a tad famous one.
This musty, old, western-style brick building went through a beating over the years, especially during the Cultural Revolution. When Amity moved in in 1985, they found thousands of Cultural Revolution propaganda pamphlets in the dreary, dark basement. There were also stories that this area had been used as a holding center for anti-revolutionary suspects and dissidents. It’s also likely that torture sessions were carried out down there by the Red Guard.
I know that some of the Amity staff members who were sent to the basement to get supplies rarely wanted to go there, day or night. The history of the place was just too creepy. Even some of us teachers, on our rare tours of the building, felt the basement’s dank, sticky, dark atmosphere conjured up too many imaginary visions of ghosts and ghouls.
None of that in the new office building’s basement area. The skylights and wide glass panels bring in the presence of the angels and a feeling of calm quiet.
I am including the Amity website release below for more information on this amazing structure and pictures of our visit. Please note that our United Methodist GBGM has given their financial support not only to many Amity projects, but for help in constructing the new building as well.
Enjoy the photos of our 2010 Amity teachers. I think we look great!
Until next time, Ping An (Peace) from China!
New Amity Office Building – Amity Foundation Press and Website Release
Amity’s new office building has been officially opened and staffers have moved over from the old building, which will be completely restored over the next few months.
When the Amity Foundation was set up almost 25 years ago, there were no more than 3 people. Today, it has more than 50 full-time employees.
What began as a single education project has grown into an organization running more than 30 individual projects in 9 main divisions: education, public hygiene, environmental protection, poverty alleviation, support for the disabled, help for orphans, disaster relief, international exchange and social security.
Amity’s project work has moved over the years from the eastern coastal provinces to more than 200 places all over the country, while total funds have exceeded CNY 100 million, which are provided by 13 different international partner organizations.
In order to respond to the challenges of such rapid organizational growth, and in order to be able to expand its charitable work even further in the future, Amity started building a new structure next to the old office building in May 2007.
All expenses for the construction of the new office building, as well as the restoration of the old one, are covered by the following: EED (Evangelischer Entwicklungsdienst, Germany), NMS (Norwegian Mission Society, Norway), EMW (Evangelisches Missionswerk, Germany), The United Methodist GBGM (General Board of Global Ministries), ABC (American Baptist Churches, USA), FELM (Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission, Finland) and HKCC (Hong Kong Christian Council), CCC/TSPM as well as the Special Project Donation Fund of Nanjing Amity Development Company.
The Amity Foundation would like to express its deep appreciation and gratitude for this generous support. Amity has also been backed and supported by the Jiangsu Province United Front Work Department of the Communist Party and the city government of Nanjing, for which it would like to express its deep appreciation and gratitude.
The new office building provides a more comfortable and spacious work environment to Amity’s staffers. It will help and encourage us to keep up the good work for the poor, disadvantaged and marginalized in China.