Broadening your Horizons

by Evan Williams - HCE Mentor

My name is Evan. I’m from Michigan, USA and I graduated from Michigan State University. I decided to take a gap year between obtaining my bachelor’s degree and starting a doctoral program. I’m learning Chinese, so I thought teaching English in China while living with a host family would be a great immersive experience for me. Even so, I never could have imagined just how much of a life-changing impact the HCE program would have.

I’d never been to Asia before, and you can bet I experienced my fair share of culture shock, misunderstandings, and times where I felt out of place or unwelcome. However, I made it through that initial rough patch and stayed with my host family for three months. I’m glad I did, because I can honestly say they were some of the best months of my entire life. I don’t think of them as my host family anymore; they’re like a new addition to my family, period. Although I’m leaving in a few short days, we’ve already made plans to see each other again, and I know I’m always welcome here. In some ways right now, I feel even closer with them than I do with my real family.

If you’re interested in seeing why I had such an amazing time, the come on over with an open mind and do your best to embrace Chinese culture. That doesn’t mean you should stop being American, but I think there are a lot of foreigners in China who look down on local traditions. It’s really unfortunate, because they’re missing out on some of the best times they could have. If you have a genuine interest in China and Chinese culture, local people will welcome you warmly, treat you like family, and give you more kindness than you thought possible from people you’re only living with for a few short months. It’s a great experience and I absolutely recommend it to anyone who wants to broaden their horizons.

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