W. Marcus Sanders, 24, originally from Detroit and a recent graduate of Kentucky State University, will start a new job on Nov. 8.
He’ll leave America for a year to teach English to Chinese students.
This will be Sanders’ second trip to China. The first was during the summer of 2016 when he participated in KSU’s study-abroad program.
Sanders, who graduated from Kentucky State in May, said his interest in Asian cultures began with his deceased father.
“We used to watch a lot of Asian films growing up,” Sanders said. “He loved movies like that, so just me being with him, I, of course, watched the movies with him. That’s what sparked my interest.”
His interest in China grew when he took Mandarin Chinese in high school. He also took Chinese as his foreign language to graduate from KSU.
“The reason it (China) caught my attention, if you look at trades, jobs and stuff like that, China actually has the next-biggest economy from America through trade and everything,” Sanders said. “Just being able to immerse myself in that culture interested me to go to China.”
Sanders said one of the biggest culture shocks when he went to China the first time during his study abroad was how much attention he received being an African-American male.
“It’s rare for them to see an African-American in China,” he said.
Random people wanted to talk to him and get to know him. The people also wanted to take photographs of and with him, he said. People also wanted to touch his skin.
It was like being famous, he said. Experiencing their curiosity and kindness was an eye-opening experience.
“It kind of hurts being an American from America to be accepted in another country or another culture better than you are when you’re at home,” Sanders said. “I would rather be out in China and live in China than be an American citizen because they don’t look to harm you or judge you because of the color of your skin or ethnicity. It’s a good experience.”
Sanders said the job came about while he was searching for employment after graduating from KSU last spring. He stumbled onto a posting online for a job teaching English in China through EF English First Education Co. The company has centers for English teaching in multiple Chinese provinces, but Sanders isn’t sure which one he will be teaching at yet. He is certified to teach students from ages 6 to 20.
Sanders said he’s feeling excited, nervous, anxious and a multitude of other emotions. That’s also true of his family and friends. Some friends have even playfully threatened to kidnap him so he can’t leave.
During his first trip to China, Sanders saw the terracotta soldiers, the Great Wall of China, The Forbidden City and other famous sites. This trip, Sanders would like to travel to a rural province in hopes of seeing a wild panda.
“I’m excited to do this, but at the same time I’m going to miss my family and friends,” he said. “I tried to talk myself out of going the first time and this time, but in the end, I decided to go. They’re once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.”