GoAbroad Interview

Angel Fang - Regional Program Coordinator

Angel Fang - Regional Program Coordinator

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in international relations, Angel taught English in Yunnan, China with Teach for China. Recently joining the Ameson Foundation as a Regional Program Coordinator, she primarily works in recruitment, development, and communications for the Ameson Year in China program. Angel hopes to use her past experiences to encourage more budding citizen diplomats to experience China.

What inspired you to work for the Ameson Foundation?

While at Penn, I focused on international relations, especially in the East Asia region. I believe educational and cultural exchanges are some of the best ways through which people can understand each other and hopefully ease tension in the region. After graduation, I knew I wanted an opportunity to put my ideas into practice, so I joined Teach for China. The experience of teaching English in rural China has been very challenging, yet rewarding. Working for Ameson Foundation allows me to not only help promote educational and cultural exchange, but also share my experiences with and support others who are looking to make a difference as Educational Ambassadors. I can’t imagine a better match.

Ameson fellow teaching in China

Teaching a class as a Teach for China fellow

Photo Credit: Xuejiao Lu

How does your educational background in international relations and East Asian studies help you in your current role?

The classes I took in college allow me to see the big picture behind what I am doing daily. Furthermore, having knowledge of East Asia, China, and Sino-American relations means that I can be of more help to the educational ambassadors as they navigate their ways through a year in China.

You taught English in China for two years after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania. How has this experience changed your perspective of the world?

I think first and foremost, the two years allowed me to experience a side of China that not many people get to see. While I have been to China before, I realized very quickly after I arrived at my school that rural China is very different from what I was used to. While things were difficult at the beginning, I soon gained an appreciation for diversity and differences as I became more familiar with the school and my students. The students were not what I expected and that was okay. While I taught them English, they taught me about life, nature, and the best way to eat walnuts.

My students really showed me the value of keeping yourself open to new experiences, for even the most insignificant thing may surprise you.

How do you use your own experience in China to support Ameson participants?

Since I was just in similar shoes not too long ago, I hope I could serve as a voice of experience that they can go to for advice when dealing with the challenges of living and teaching English in China.

Teenage girls in China

Hanging out with students on the weekend

Photo Credit: Jiangli Li

What type of support do participants have while in China?

AYC participants (we call them “Educational Ambassadors” or EAs) will have multiple forms of support during their year. The program starts with a one week orientation in Shanghai, where EAs will have the opportunity to meet the other participants and Ameson staff, take a crash course in conversational Mandarin, sightsee, and learn about teaching English within the Chinese context.

Once they arrive at their host school, they will have an English-speaking school coordinator. They will also be assigned a Regional Placement Liaison from our Shanghai office and a Regional Program Coordinator from our D.C. office that they can go to if they are having any problems. If they prefer to connect with peers or via social media, we are very active on WeChat (an app that combines Facebook and messaging which is extremely popular in mainland China).

What is the number one thing you tell Educational Ambassadors before departure?

Be flexible and keep an open mind.

I want every program participant to have a great year and one of the best ways to do that is just to put yourself out there and be open to new experiences and challenges.

How does Ameson help Educational Ambassadors fully experience Chinese culture?

Educational Ambassadors are only required to teach 20 hours a week, with an additional 10 hours going toward supporting student activities, whether that is coaching the basketball team or starting an English club. They will have the rest of the time free, and we really do encourage EAs to go out there and involve themselves in the local community and build relationships with their fellow teachers and students. In a few cases, our partner schools and/or the local education bureaus have organized trips to local historical sites, volunteer opportunities, and such for AYC participants.

Ameson Foundation table at the George Washington University Spring Career and Internship Fair

Recruiting for AYC at the George Washington University’s Spring Career and Internship Fair

Photo Credit: Ameson Media Department

What does a typical day of work look like for you?

What I do on a day-to-day basis really depends on what projects I am currently working on. Since we are currently in the midst of recruiting for our 2016-2017 cohort, most of my day is spent on reaching out to career services and potential applicants, interviewing and following up with current candidates, and thinking of ways we can improve the program to ensure a better experience for all Educational Ambassadors. Since I also help out with communications for AYC, you can occasionally see me on Facebook and/or our other social media platforms during work hours planning and posting content.

What is the most rewarding part about your job?

I think the most rewarding part about my job is having the opportunity to talk to and learn from current and prospective Educational Ambassadors. Hearing about their experiences in their own words, learning from prospective applicants why they want to teach abroad in China, all of it really deepens my passion for cultural exchange.