KERENE WEBBER describes herself as a shy person. The 32-year-old New Yorker attributed her quick adaptation to Shenzhen life to social media sites.
“Honestly, if it weren’t for social media sites such as meetup.com, italki.com, and WeChat, I would not have been able to survive well here,” said Webber, who arrived in Shenzhen in March to work as an English teacher at a Futian middle school.
Webber said she was able to connect with Chinese natives who speak English as well as other expats in the area.
“Hanging out with other expats has made me grow to really appreciate Shenzhen. It is through them that I learned what Guangdong Province has to offer,” she said. “I like visiting various parks and attending many events that happen during the summer. I have experienced a bit of culture shock while out here, but am getting over it as I’m occupied with these events.”
Back in New York, Webber was a teacher at a small private school but later started a catering business in the school. Catering was not the only business she has run. She also makes skin-care products for her sensitive skin.
After months teaching in a Shenzhen school, Webber has a lot of thoughts on Chinese education. “I think China’s education system can be improved. It seems like children are taught to be robots. Though I do believe that things like repetition are important, students should also be taught to have creative thought,” she said.
Instead of answering a question by repeating something out of a book, they should be encouraged to answer questions in their own words, especially when learning English, Webber said.
In order for Chinese students to survive in English-speaking countries, they should learn how to express themselves using words they would not find in an English textbook, she said.
“This way they will not go into shock when they discover that many of the phrases that they are repeating are not used in everyday speech,” she said.
One strong point of the U.S. education system, according to Webber, is that it allows teachers to challenge students to think independently, and students are encouraged to use their imagination while learning.