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    Home >> Shanghai >> Article
    Paul Pemberton: young at heart
    By:Wu Qiong, Huang Ziling  |  From:www.atbmusic.com  |  2019-09-17 10:46

    “I was told by a university professor that in the 1980s, if you were smart, you should go to Europe; in the 20th century, you should go to America; in the 21st century, you might go to Asia. China is the biggest country in Asia. So I came here,” said Paul Francis Pemberton, a foreign coordinator at the China Welfare Institute (CWI) Kindergarten.

    (Paul Francis Pemberton, coordinator at the China Welfare Institute Kindergarten)

    He has been working in the kindergarten for more than five years. To the students, he is a close friend of theirs and tries his best to prepare the kids for the future in the 21st century.

    (Paul and his students)

    It took Paul, who studied economics at college, several years to finally find his dream job as a pre-school teacher. To him, liking being around kids is very natural.

    (China Welfare Institute Kindergarten in Kangqiao, Pudong)

    The CWI Kindergarten was founded by Mme. Soong Ching Ling in 1949, with one of her educational ideals being “to give the best to children”. “That is also our mission,” said Paul, who considers himself a member of the CWI family, and regards Mme. Soong’s ideal as an instruction. “I don’t see myself as a foreign teacher. I am just a teacher here at CWI Kindergarten,” he said.

    (Mme. Soong’s educational thoughts are reflected in the kindergarten)

    With ever-increasing internationalization, there is no doubt about the significance of learning the world’s lingua franca of English. As a modern English teacher, Paul thinks his responsibility is to “get the kids ready for a more connected world”. While there may be ups and downs in the ongoing trend of internationalization, in 10 to 20 years, the world will be even more interconnected. “If our students can speak a foreign language and understand different cultures, it will be a great advantage.”He also hopes that when the students go abroad, they can encourage foreigners to come to China and learn Chinese.

    To stimulate children’s interest in the world and foster their creativity, Paul and his colleagues work together on a program called “individual learning”, using games, role plays and other methods in their teaching.

    Festival celebration is a big feature of the kindergarten, which, in Paul’s view, is far beyond celebration of days. As he recalled, Chinese New Year has had the greatest impact on him. “I actually get to learn first-hand what the Chinese children do to celebrate such a holiday. When I eventually return to my country, I can then teach the Australian children what the Chinese children do to celebrate their holidays. Experience like this helps me to better understand China and thus helps me to do a better job as a bridge connecting Western and Chinese people together.”

    (Paul dressed as Son Goku at Halloween)

    Students can also achieve personal development through the games. Last Halloween, the kindergarten set up a “ghost house” at the entrance. Children could choose to enter it or not by themselves. “The first day, they might be afraid. But after two days, they became brave enough to go in,” said Paul with excitement.

    To get the children ready for the future is the key in pre-school education. Paul also takes the students to nursery homes nearby the kindergarten. The kids’ lovely performances make the elderly people very happy. Though the students may not really understand why they need to do that, what Paul and his colleagues are doing is to help build up the right values in the children, who will respect and be grateful for the older generation when growing up.

    Surrounded by children, Paul does not feel any generational gap. “Being with the kids keeps me young.” He said he can learn many cool things from the students who were born in the 2010s. Compared with talking to other adults, he is more comfortable while talking to kids. He added, “Sometimes I am even louder than the kids. I have to be an entertainer, so as to make the little kids like kindergarten.”

    Paul is not only liked by students but is also popular among parents. They contact him sometimes via WeChat and share with him their kids’ travels during the holidays, which is different from the relationship between parents and teachers in Australia.

    After his first year at the kindergarten, Paul was promoted to the position of coordinator. His work includes recruiting and training new teachers. To help more foreigners get to know about CWI and the kindergarten, he has created multiple channels online, for instance, on Facebook and Youtube. When it comes to recruitment, the most important qualities of a good candidate, as Paul said, should be being caring, youthful, experienced, kind-hearted, and most of all, patient. He wants to find the best teachers, in order to give the best to the students.

    “Though his major is not education, he is very amiable with the students. And he works very hard. It is very nice to work with him,” said Phyllis, one of Paul’s Chinese colleagues.

    (Paul and his colleagues)

    As a man who likes trying different things, Paul has many hobbies, like sports, bicycling, hiking and swimming. He also likes reading. One on his book list is “The Art of War”, which he first came upon at college and which sparked his interest in Chinese history.

    (Paul likes hiking and travelling in his spare time.)

    He also loves watching TV. The BBC documentary “Are Our Kids Tough Enough? Chinese School” left a deep impression on him. “Chinese maths teachers are so good.”He even suggests foreign teachers visit Chinese classes.

    Paul lives in Shanghai with his parents and two sisters. He said, “Shanghai is very big and bustling. So it is suitable for young men like me.” Paul’s father is very excited about eating authentic Chinese food. As for Paul, his favorite dishes are scrambled egg with leek and spring rolls. The family travels a lot, as it is convenient to travel from Shanghai to the rest of the world.

    Much to his surprise, Paul is now the youngest honoree of the Shanghai Magnolia Silver Award. As he said, it will motivate him to continue his work and prove to himself that he is deserving of such an honor. He will try his best to help his present and future students.

    (Paul sends a message of hope for his future life in Shanghai)