Meet Darrika: Dreams Coming True in China

As a child I loved traveling, going to school, and like most kids my age, all things Disney. Who would have known, 20 years later, I would be doing something that tied all three together? During my third year of university, I studied abroad in Thailand and spent my free time volunteering with children at a local low-income housing community. I also spent several summers in Laos volunteering at the local primary school reading books, tutoring, and engaging with the students in various activities. It was during these experiences abroad that I realized working with children held a special place in my heart.

I returned home after studying abroad and worked as a pre-kindergarten teacher after graduation. When I finished my first year, the adventurist in me was longing to go back abroad. I’ve always wanted to travel and see the world as I was working and thought what better time to do it, but now? I suddenly stumbled on the job posting for Disney English online. I did some research, applied, accepted and next thing I knew, I was on a plane to China. It has been one of the most spontaneous things I’ve done in my life.

Seeing the Great Wall the first week I arrived made the beginning of my experience in China so real and absolutely thrilling.

As a Senior Foreign Trainer living in Guangzhou, I can say this city has been the ultimate city to live in. It has the perfect balance of traditional Chinese and Cantonese culture, along with Western influences and conveniences. There are tall skyscrapers and beautiful rooftops, but you can also take a peek at the local life and temples that are prominent all over the city.

There are also always new places to explore and day trips to take. One of my favorite things to do in Guangzhou is going out on our weekends and finding these new adventures. It’s also nice to take a trip off the beaten path and get immersed in the local culture. You can visit the many museums, temples and landmarks and when you are hungry, you can always stop for some dim sum, hot pot, noodles and tea.

The Canton Tower is the landmark of Guangzhou located near the Pearl River. The Canton Tower has an observation deck, restaurants, and even a movie theatre where you can see the newest films!

With Guangzhou being situated in the South, I can always find great tickets for a quick weekend getaway. It has been so easy to hop on the plane for the weekend and be back in time for work. I’ve been able to travel to Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and more. I can honestly say the adventures are endless. I’ve checked off so many new places from my bucket list since moving to Guangzhou, and I’m always looking forward to new trips to take.

Take a trip to Yangshou, located in the Guanxi Province of southern China, to trade city skyscrapers for majestic mountains and peaceful river views.

I’ve been in China for almost two years and it’s true what they say, “time flies when you’re having fun.” I thought I was going to be here for a bit over a year, but life has a way of shifting things and here I am on my second contract as a Senior Foreign Trainer. While working with Disney English, I have been able to grow with the company through training, coaching and consistent support from my leaders and team members.

Everyone has been so helpful and willing to help me every step of the way. It has been one magical adventure and I say to anyone who is looking to get out of his or her comfort zone and explore something new, this is the job for you as well!

Darrika
Senior Foreign Trainer
United States

Celebrating Halloween at Disney Parks Across Asia

There are a lot of amazing benefits to living in China, but one of the best is having quick access to Shanghai Disney Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, and Tokyo Disney Resort. Flights are easy and direct, and, depending on the season, very affordable. And as a Foreign Trainer, I have complimentary access to the parks in Shanghai and Hong Kong. I was eager to see how each of the parks celebrated Halloween, so I decided to see for myself and visit all three—again! Continue reading “Celebrating Halloween at Disney Parks Across Asia”

VoluntEARing at Summer Camp

One of my favorite things about working for Disney English is the family we are able to build as magic makers living abroad. Some of my best friends are trainers that teach in the classrooms beside mine. We work together, we often live together, and we travel together. As Disney English Foreign Trainers, we work hard to build our community, and that work extends beyond our professional relationships and social lives. For me, spending a Wednesday with my friends and Disney VoluntEARs is a day off well spent. Continue reading “VoluntEARing at Summer Camp”

Meet Daniel: Becoming a Native in Beijing

Every morning as I walk through the streets of Beijing with confidence that might insinuate I am a native, I find myself reflecting on my life. Particularly on how I, a boy from Virginia who would watch The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride on repeat while playing with his A Bug’s Life Beanie Babies, wound up living in China working for Disney English. Continue reading “Meet Daniel: Becoming a Native in Beijing”

Celebrating Holidays in China

The most important aspect of every holiday is gathering with family and friends; eating, playing games and enjoying one another’s company. While more Westernized holidays like Christmas, Halloween and Valentine’s Day have become important in China, the country is full of rich history and tradition that has spread throughout society and influenced how the Chinese celebrate holidays. We’re going to explore the way locals celebrate their biggest holidays and how, as foreigners, we can get involved in the celebrations! Continue reading “Celebrating Holidays in China”

Meet Maile: From Walt Disney World Resort to Beijing and Disney English!

While I was in college, I had a number of friends that completed the Disney College Program. A program where currently enrolled or recently graduated college students are given the opportunity to work in one of Disney’s parks or resorts. After hearing about their Disney College Program experiences, I knew that I wanted to take part in this amazing opportunity. Following graduation, I found myself working at The Seas with Nemo and Friends in Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort. While on my program, I fell in love with life at Disney and ended up staying for a full year.

As my time on the Disney College Program came to an end, I knew that I wasn’t done with The Walt Disney Company. While in college, I earned a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certificate and I had seen information about Disney English on Disney’s internal career network. For me, Disney English was the perfect next step in my career. Just days after attending a Disney English information session, I applied, was scheduled for an interview and was offered a job.

A few months later, I found myself on a flight to Beijing, China. Continue reading “Meet Maile: From Walt Disney World Resort to Beijing and Disney English!”

Learning Chinese from a Native Speaker

Before I moved to China, I had gone out to dinner with some friends. In the moment, I was feeling optimistic, energized and extremely excited to start a new chapter in my book of adventures. While sitting at the table, enjoying our meals and conversation, one of my friends had asked me, “Do you even know any Chinese?” That’s when I froze and my feelings shifted. I became uncertain. I didn’t know Chinese. On my drive home, I thought about all of the new emotions I was having and asked myself, “Why I am feeling like this?” I realized it was the fear of the unknown, of not knowing the language.

A few days later, my bags were packed and my passport was ready for new stamps. I was the one in the driver’s seat and I was in control. I promised myself that I would take Chinese classes once I was settled in Nanjing, China. Continue reading “Learning Chinese from a Native Speaker”

Exploring Thailand: Land of Smiles

With beaches, beautiful temples and elephant sanctuaries, Thailand has become a must visit travel destination for Disney English Foreign Trainers. My days in Thailand were filled with boats, beaches, bejeweled temples and some really big Buddhas. Whether it’s your first time heading to the Land of Smiles or you are looking for new places to explore, here are some ideas for your next adventure! Continue reading “Exploring Thailand: Land of Smiles”