Fourteen years ago when Paul accompanied her wife to her mother’s home in Inner Mongolia, he was noticed by a local school and was invited to give lessons. “At the time, I was the only foreigner at the town. I taught two weeks to kill my time. Little did I thought, they invited me again to come back after I went back to UK.” Paul thought the job could offer him an overseas experience on one hand, the opportunity to get along with his wife’s family on the other hand. Why not do it? So he accepted it without hesitation.
Paul at AIDI International School [Photo provided to Qianlong]
An occasional decision as such has tied him with China ever since. Two years later, he and his wife came to Beijing.
“As long as we got here, we bought a house. On the same day, I went for a job interview at AIDI International School. On my way back to the downtown in a taxi, not far from my setting off, I caught sight of a house. That is what I just bought.” So, Paul naturally chose to work at the international school near his house, and has worked there for 11 years.
Today, the students enrolled in the school have grown from several hundreds to more than 3,000; dormitories ever at the farthest edge of the school are now at the most center location. And Paul has been promoted from a project leader at the very beginning to the director of the school’s academic quality commission and now the school’s academic principal. He roots his life in Beijing with his knowledge and earnestness.
The school covers courses from elementary to high school of America, Britain and Australia and opens art projects. Paul’s work is to control the overall academic development of all phases and modes -- every day, he has to sit down and hold meetings with different project leaders to discuss education and academic management. Sometimes, he has to hold one-on-one conversation with individual teachers.
The hardest part of his job as a foreigner principal is to guarantee that his staff members, many of whom are Chinese and work at posts of different educational phases or with different educational modes, know, understand and practice the cultural principle that the school runs all through. “Many employees felt how it was possible that a foreigner knows well what they want. Actually, the over-ten-year local life has deepened my understanding of Chinese culture and Chinese people, and that enables me to discover diversity. More importantly, I respect the diversity and I respect every individual’s logic and custom. I won’t look at anybody through a pair of tinted spectacles. I will only tell everyone what AIDI calls for and what it does not. ”
Respecting diversity is also a concept Paul always passes on to his students. “Students here will go to the world. I hope they are broad-minded enough to embrace diversity, bring the quintessence of China to the world and take back achievements from other cultures of the globe. Globalization is not to say everyone has to be entirely the same, but means every unique individual can understand each other.”
He teaches his ten-year-old son in this way too. The Chinese-British half blood little guy sometimes gets into distress, feeling that himself belongs to none of the two cultures. “I will tell him frankly it is the fact, but he shall look more at the brighter side. It gets him two cultural perspectives that helps him think more reasonably and look at the world in a more tolerated way.”