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Chinarchy: American Expats in China
Chinarchy delivers a unique, versatile experience of what it's like to be two American twenty-somethings living and teaching in China. Anderson and McCoy (mostly Anderson), discuss their experiences teaching, traveling and taking in the Chinese culture.
Teaching in China
It's clear that teaching is the most challenging and rewarding aspect of living in China. Anderson and McCoy use everyday examples from the classroom to bring awareness to the real problems of modern education. In a series of posts, Anderson discusses his experience dealing with abusive teachers and how difficult it is to get any kind of justice in the current system. After witnessing a teacher physically assaulting a child, Anderson brings the problem to the administration and then to the child's parent, neither of whom seem willing to take direct action to protect the child. Anderson discusses his feelings about the issue, saying "If I can't even get foreigner parents to take a hard stance on this, what can I do?"
Child advocacy is an over-arching theme of the blog. The Chinarchy bloggers talk about their peaceful and respectful teaching methods. Early in the blog, Anderson discusses opposition he received from other teachers and administrators regarding his methods. He talks about his fears concerning the possibility of making things worse for the children. The argument being, if you don't train children early to fear authority, they will have that much more difficulty when dealing with future teachers who are more brutal.
They go on to discuss problems with top-down, authority based teaching and reward/punishment systems. The care and thought that the Chinarchy bloggers give to the children's experience of their classroom is truly refreshing. The anecdotes provided are great examples that force not only isn't necessary when working with children, but is in fact counter-productive to the stated goal of "teaching".
The majority of posts discuss teaching experiences, but all work and no play make Chinarchy a dull blog. Lucky for us, Anderson and McCoy take their cameras (and readers) along on their touristy and non-touristy traveling adventures. No one in their right mind could live in China for a year without visiting the Great Wall. They share several photos of the crowded, most popular tourist destination in China, the Badaling section of the Great Wall. Chinarchy also takes its readers off the tourist-beaten-path to smaller cities like Xingcheng. Xingcheng has a population of only about 100,000 people. Anderson posts a few candid photos of life in this small, Chinese city.
Some of the most entertaining entries are Anderson and McCoy's experience of China from a foreigner's perspective. Chinarchy tells us what it's like to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in China. This was particularly difficult as Anderson describes, "Ninety percent of the Chinese people we talked to didn't know what St. Paddy's Day was". Though, he discloses that they only asked five people. Anderson also describes a bizarre evening, seeing Usher in concert in an audio post.
Chinarchy offers an experience and perspective found nowhere else on the web. It combines travel blogging with entertaining and stimulating commentary on child advocacy, as well as political and social issues. Chinarchy is highly recommended for anyone interested in child advocacy, Chinese culture, travel or teaching.