In summer 2010, as we were busy with wedding planning, the Academic Bridge Program underwent a major transition in leadership. Long story short, two similar programs under the Tsinghua umbrella started the long and laborious process of merging. The process has made for an ambiguous and uncertain year in 2010-2011, but overall things have worked out well.
The first step was to pack up offices in June and move across campus. As humble as our first building had been, it was a little bit better than our new offices, which were quite cramped. The location was better, however, because it was closer to the main gate of the university.
As the school year approached, however, we got a nice surprise saying that our offices would be moved again. No one was certain where we would end up until a few days before the semester actually started. All we knew was that all of our desk stuff had been moved and was inaccessible. Not sure what else to do, the teachers held a prep meeting at the corner Starbucks.
Again, despite a hectic first week, everything eventually worked out. Our final office for the year was actually a great improvement location-wise because it was literally right across the street from our apartment building. Don’t get misled, the commute still took about 15-20 minutes by foot, with the longest time needed to ascend the elevators to the 20th floor.
There was a similar uncertainty in regards to classroom space. After teaching for the first few weeks in 3-4 different buildings with schedules changing all the time (including one on the eighth floor of a dorm building with no elevator), we received good news that our old summer classroom space was going to be converted into classrooms that we could use for the rest of the school year. Fortunately, the new rooms looked great, and after the seventh or eighth week of the program, things pretty much settled into a routine.
On the whole, the school year has gone fairly well. The final buildings have a better location, better technology, and better heating than our last building. Our offices, once set up, were sufficient even if small. We were also fortunate that most of the teachers were returners, which made everyone much more confident and collected. The teaching quality has actually been consistent, despite all the practical challenges, and student attendance has been more steady. Compared to many school teaching gigs in China, this program has been a good place to work these past two years.