I came to Hangzhou, China with an open mind and a keen interest on teaching. I had talked to Matt while I was traveling through India. At the time, I had offers from smaller cities in China and Taiwan. I didn’t know much about Hangzhou, only the fact that it had this massive lake that was called beautiful by Marco Polo. The interview process with Matt was professional and he asked me all the right questions. He had no hesitations with the questions I asked, contract negotiations, and contact with past teachers. I did my research on the DDDragon program and found only good comments on this franchise. The school that I would be working was one of the most well established English training schools in Hangzhou. I arrived in China with only a backpack and a determined mind. I was set up in a great apartment with another teacher who would later become one of my best friends. The apartment itself was literally 5 minutes walking from the school, grocery store, restaurants, a park (RARE!), fruit stand, etc. Because I had no prior teaching experience, Matt was taking a huge risk with me. I’ll be honest, I was scared out of my mind standing in a classroom full of children. I had previously worked a finance position in the states but this was beyond me.
The training program at this particular DDDragon is much more intense than most other training schools in Hangzhou. This school is unique in the fact that Matt acts as a mediator between shareholders and the English teachers. Most other schools will have you deal directly with Chinese shareholders and trust me, it isn’t easy. I’ve always been one to jump into something and make mistakes along the way. Matt worked around the way I liked to be trained and within a month I was on my feet. Im not going to say it was easy, it was far from that. I struggled with teaching for a few months and finally one day it just clicked. The other teachers there have multiple years of experience and didn’t hesitate to help me out whenever I needed. I would constantly ask for ideas, tips, and hints on how I could improve. DDDragon is so unique because it allows a teacher to be creative with their presentation. Rather than a traditional and boring desk, DDDragon is an open space with endless possibilities of games and strategy. At the end of my time I had started 3 of my own classes and taught 5 previously established courses. I can truly say I will miss my students and how much they made me smile. Ill also miss the friendships I created with my fellow teachers. I’ve read about numerous horror stories within China on training schools and Chinese bosses. Sarah was a wonderful, professional supervisor and I was extremely lucky to work at this school.
Hangzhou is so beautiful, its unlike any other place in China. I grew to love this place (Granted China is a whole other ballgame), it will always have a place in my heart. If you’re thinking about living/ teaching here just stop. Don’t think about it, just do it. I promise you it will be one of the best decisions of your life.
Mark H. Penewit