At the beginning of September 2017, I saw a poster in the McKay Building that read "Teach Internationally" with a map of China. I felt a little "something" and immediately covered it with thoughts of how Asia was the last place I wanted to visit! I attended the information meeting, but again I told myself I didn't want to go to China.
The semester progressed. I loved my first-grade practicum and adored the students, the school, and all aspects of being a teacher. I was excited to have my own classroom, and I couldn't wait. I wasn't going to China.
During the Christmas break, I kept thinking about the China application due date. My list of negatives was higher than my positives, but I could not shake the thought and didn't know why.
Back at BYU, I was printing my application for an internship when I suddenly changed the information and turned it in as an application to student teach in China. Sometimes God has His own plans for us.
By September I was in China, and I found myself falling in love with the Guangzhou skyline, Asians, Mandarin, the greenery, new experiences, and my students.
Clifford International School, my destination, was established in 1996 and has nearly 4,000 students. There is a bilingual school, an international program, and a small American history program.
I taught fifth grade in the international elementary school. I worked under the mentorship of a Canadian teacher who had taught in different countries. I felt so lucky to be learning new things and experiencing different styles of education, all of which were building my chest of knowledge and skills.
The more I taught, the better the students responded, and I grew not only as a teacher but as a person. There were challenges and hard things to overcome, but I knew I had choices. I chose to work hard, learn from difficulties, be positive and strong, and become the best teacher possible.
At the end of my experience, I no longer questioned why I could not stop thinking about that poster. Going to China was the best choice I could have made, and I recommend it to future teachers.
Kaitlin Heaton started teaching fifth grade in Utah's Goshen Elementary in January, four days after returning from China.