Teen's orders Chinese gap year challenge

A TEENAGER is preparing to set off on an experience of a lifetime - spending a year teaching in China as part of a special project.

A TEENAGER is preparing to set off on an experience of a lifetime - spending a year teaching in China as part of a special project.

Hannah Collins, 18, wanted to make her gap year unique and worthwhile and has signed up with an educational organisation called the Project Trust.

She will spend a year in Gansu province - some way north of where the devastating earthquake has killed tens of thousands of people - and is trying to raise £4,480 to cover the costs.

The trust works in 25 countries but Hannah, of Kirton Road, Trimley St Martin, chose China because of its fascinating culture, the chance to learn the language, and to find out what life is really like in a country so different from the UK.

She will be living and working in a town called Dingxi, teaching at a middle school, which has more than 3,000 pupils.

“I am required to spend 16 hours a week teaching conversational English to pupils aged 15 to 18, as well as helping fellow teachers practice their English,” she said. “This sounds rather challenging, particularly as there can be up to 60 pupils in a class!

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“However, many of them are from very poor backgrounds and have worked exceptionally hard to pass entrance exams.

“They aim to go to university so they can reach the higher paid jobs that will raise them above the peasant level, and knowing English is a key part of this.”

Hannah, who is currently studying A levels at St Alban's High School, Ipswich, and wants to study history at the University of Southampton, will be one of about 20 Project Trust volunteers going to China.

“I can eat at the school canteen, buy food at the local market, or do as many Chinese tend to, and eat out regularly,” she said.

“Gansu lies on the Silk Road, between the Gobi desert and the Tibetan plateau, providing an interesting mix of Chinese, Muslim, Tibetan and Mongolian people.”

She is holding a variety of fundraising events to raise the money needed, including selling refreshments at school functions, bag-packing with the help of the girl guide unit where she is a young leader, doing odd-jobs for people, and has had a few grants from charitable trusts. Anyone who would like to help her should ring 01394 448842.

Are you doing something extraordinary for your gap year? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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