Viktoria Günes

When I first found out that I was going to be placed in a school in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the North West of China, I was slightly anxious I must admit. It looked as if I was going to be in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by endless mountains and desert! I needn't have worried though. When i arrived in Changji, a small city close to the much bigger city Ürümqi, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the city was as modern as any other city anywhere else in the world.

Here I was naively thinking that I would have to endure the hardships of being in a remote area, but the school made sure that we had a comfortable life. I started out with teaching primary school children. What a challenge that was for me! I had just graduated and had no previous experience of children. I feel I have learnt so much from it though, thanks to the fact that it wasn't easy for me at first. At the moment I am teaching university level in Ürümqi and it feels just right. Of course there have been the occasional problems whilst being here, but thanks to the organisation, I have never felt alone.

Xinjiang is great for anyone who wants to experience a multitude of cultures and a plethora of cuisines. The climate is harsh but this expansive region has a lot to offer any cultural explorer!

I arrived back home a few days ago. I want to thank you so very much for accepting me on this programme last year. This year in China has been everything I wanted it to be. I am glad I got to experience real sunshine after the initial complications. I've been so lucky to be able to experience true job satisfaction as a teacher, as my university students showed me so much love and appreciation. All in all, I'll remember this as a truly amazing time in my life! I wouldn't mind returning at some point. Will see what the future brings. I know now that I wish to inspire young people, and although teaching certainly is one of the ways, I want to use my artistic skills more to achieve this.

PS: Thanks for setting up the wonderful year in the north west of China. Though it is remote I really enjoyed my time there. Now I am home in Sweden I realise that I want to be a teacher and am taking steps to becoming one. It was my teaching experience over there that has given me this new direction.