From: Shenzhen Daily | Updated: 2019-01-15
While most young people flock to downtown Shenzhen for its urban conveniences and exciting cultural scenes, Nolan Shay, a 26-year-old American who speaks excellent Mandarin, prefers living by the seaside in Yantian District, a laid-back area of the city.
Coming from a rural area outside Indianapolis, Indiana, Shay says he has found a sense of belonging in Yantian. “I like places that are more relaxed and easy-going. If I lived in downtown, I might get tired with all the traffic and crowds,” he said, adding that what made him settle in Yantian and become a teacher was the cleaner air, quiet and peaceful environment and the lower cost of living. “My school is next to the beach, which I seldom got to enjoy growing up in Midwestern America,” he said.
With a bachelor’s degree in economics from Indiana University, Shay worked in customs for a year and a half after graduation. However, he found his role meaningless and without purpose. “I felt like a small cog in a very large machine, so I decided to come to China to teach English,” Shay said.
He is teaching at Yantian Foreign Languages School as an oral English teacher. “My students are impressionable and looking for role models,” he said.
Shay said he often breaks the class into groups to discuss topics that the students are interested in, such as games, poetry, food, the NBA and the school life of their counterparts in the United States. “If they cannot relate to the topics, they’re less likely to engage, so I always do research into the current hobbies and interests of young Chinese people,” he said.
Shay also works with his Chinese colleagues to train students for competitions, including the Montessori Model United Nations and currently the CCTV English Speaking Cup. He said his students have yielded tremendous results in the competitions. “We’ve just had a student placed among the top 10 at Montessori Model United Nations Shenzhen Public Selection.”
With the beach only a five-minute walk from his apartment, Shay enjoys swimming, hiking and bike-riding in the mountains. He also goes to the seafood street to try the delicious foods and has grown fond of Cantonese food.