Meet Eve Downing, a Grade 4 Mathematics Teacher at BASIS Bilingual School Shenzhen. Eve and her partner Tim joined BASIS this past August, moving with their children from an idyllic town in New Zealand to the bustling city of Shenzhen. With the unwavering support of the BASIS International & Bilingual Schools HR team, Eve and her family embarked on their adventure abroad, embracing the rewarding opportunities China has to offer.
What made you decide to pursue a career in education?
When I was a young student, I experienced schooling that was relationship-focused. Teachers were the heart of my schooling and built a place where each student felt welcome and valued. It is because of this space and the relationship-driven teaching and learning that I decided that I, too, wanted to give back to my community and teach the upcoming generations.
My reasons for becoming a teacher differ from why I continue to be a teacher, though. I now continue to be a teacher because I love being a tiny part of young people’s journeys. I truly enjoy jumping into the classroom every day and bringing my energy. As teachers, we perform for our classes every day, on a stage that is our classroom, hoping each performance ends in learning. I love putting on a performance for every lesson, even if my morning coffee hasn’t hit me yet.
What influenced you to teach in China? Why BASIS International & Bilingual Schools?
My family and I are from a small town in the New Zealand countryside. After over five years in our local high school and a couple of my own kids later, my partner and I were after a new adventure. Some friends of ours did various stints in international schools around the world, and the idea of having new experiences enticed us. We chose China because we didn’t want to create the same life we had in New Zealand. We loved that life but were ready for a change, a new culture, and a challenge. We chose BASIS because, after plenty of research, it felt like the right fit for us.
What kind of support did BASIS provide to help with your relocation overseas?
We were so lucky to have an allocated HR staff member, Joy. She checked in on us regularly as we navigated applying for visas and supported us through every obstacle in the process. Once we arrived in China, she picked us up from the airport—a welcomed, familiar face. She guided us through getting bank accounts, phone numbers, wifi, and all the other logistical struggles of moving overseas. Thank you, Joy!
What is unique about teaching in a bilingual school?
I love the blend of a bilingual school. Students enjoy a space where they feel comfortable, where their native language is celebrated and taught. The BASIS Curriculum is taught alongside the national curriculum, allowing concepts to be solidified and truly learned. The expat teachers work, plan, collaborate, and teach their classes with a local hire. This co-teaching model means students are supported in the ways they need.
What do you enjoy most about working at BASIS?
One thing that I enjoy most about working at BASIS Bilingual School Shenzhen is the collaborative nature of the school. The co-teaching model necessitates collaboration between not only the two classroom teachers but all the teachers who teach the same course. My current office allows me to speak to other teachers and plan together to get the best from our students. We have also found the staff community to be inclusive and fun. Something we only hoped to have when looking at schools abroad.
What is it like living abroad with a family?
The first couple of days were overwhelming, I’ll admit. The language barrier was probably our most difficult challenge. So many aspects of life in China rely on a phone number and bank account, and since getting these things organized, we have loved our time here. I initially was worried about how our children would cope with all of the changes, but they adapted quickly to our new life. Kids are so resilient, and ours have been just that. The opportunities to travel are also something we are excited to give to our children, opportunities that we wouldn’t have if we stayed in our home country.
How do you pursue your interests and passions beyond the classroom?
Having two young children, my time for out-of-school interests has dwindled in recent years, though Tim, my partner, has found a local expat rugby team, the Shenzhen Pirates. He loves the team atmosphere and enjoys spending time with other expat people across Shenzhen. Tim and I both enjoy exercising and running and hope to take on the Great Wall of China half marathon in May.
What advice would you give to teachers who are considering working overseas?
DO IT. Dive in head-first. You will only learn more—about yourself, about cultures, about the world around you, about learning. DO IT.
Grade 4 Mathematics Teacher
BASIS Bilingual School Shenzhen
For more information about teaching with BASIS International Schools, visit our careers website.