It’s not that unusual for a teacher to move from one school to another for the coming year but New Albany native John-Peter Ford is taking it to an extreme.
After teaching at Picayune this past year he is moving – to the Orient.
“I’m taking my dog and pony show to China,” he said.
He will be teaching instrument and vocal music at a private school with 300 to 400 students in Chengdu, the capital city of the Sichuan District.
“I’ll be at the junior high,” he said. “It will mostly be children of diplomats and businessmen.”
Schools there use a year-round system in which a semester is followed by a few weeks’ vacation, then another semester followed by another brief vacation. “They take Chinese, not U. S. holidays but the curriculum is more or less like the U. S.,” he said.
English is the predominant language at the school, but Ford will need to be conversant in the native language as well. “I am leaning Mandarin using Duolingo,” (a smartphone language application) he said.
He will live only about five minutes from the school in a western-style apartment but says transportation there is very reliable if he needs it.”
“It’s in the southeastern part of China,” Ford said. “The population of the city is 14 million.” The area is known for panda breeding and is in a mountainous region. “The climate is like New Orleans and it is close to the Yangtze River,” Ford said.
Although it is a major city, the cost of living will be low, he said, other than for western items, which are expensive.
Ford isn’t sure how long he will stay but plans to travel a lot, something he has done in the past.
He will be right next to Tibet and the Himalayas where climbers prevent to attempt Mount Everest so he plans to explore China as well.
“I am going to the base camp, see the Silk Road and the Great Wall,” he said.
The company that operates the school where he will be has similar schools all over the world. “After I do this I can transfer and I really want to be in Europe,” he said.
Ford has been at Picayune two years but has spent two weeks in Japan with Boy Scouts and traveled with an MSU group to Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic.
“I’m just off a Midwest trip where I covered 3,000 miles and seven states in six days. It was just me,” he said.
“Through travel we get a better understanding of our world,” Ford said.
He shares his adventures through a blog and Instagram so people may follow him in lifeisabanquet1 on Instagram and the domain name for the blog is “Life is a banquet.”