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Teaching English classes for kids in China from a farmhouse
2020-07-10

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The sudden, total switch from our normal worklives to most people working from home has brought challenges - but also opportunities.


Some believe it could change the future for rural Ireland, allowing people to pursue full-time careers while being able to live relatively cheaply in some of the most isolated but attractive communities in Ireland.


For Molly Dillion, the Covid-19 crisis has allowed her to spend a summer enjoying wild West Cork, while still working hard and earning a living.


She tells us about her summer so far, on the old farmstead close by Barleycove Beach and Crookhaven in far west Cork.


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Thanks to the wonders of Data roaming and webcams I have created an unofficial trading route from Beijing to Barleycove in the bedroom of my family home.


Here children from all over China get to experience a 26-year-old quarter-life crisis played out live on camera in exchange for 12 euros an hour (and maybe learn a bit of English).


For the past 3 months, I have been living in a part of West Cork where it is as if time has stood still. You can go for long walks passing miles of farmland and mountains, not a mask or an Aldi queue in sight!


Yes, it is beautiful, but like most lockdown settings it starts to feel a bit like Groundhog Day after a while or in this case a tourism ad from the 90s.


Luckily for me, I had been an online TEFL teacher before the coronavirus shut everything down, so I had unruly children to keep me occupied while the country was closed for business.


The materials are all provided for me and I have to say sometimes I think I am getting more enjoyment out of it then the children. I am learning about the origins of the motorcar, how pasta is made and how to be a good friend.


All of which seem relevant to the crisis we now find ourselves in.


One day I had a student who was struggling to name countries and say where she was from and Ireland (shamefully) was not on the curriculum.


In order to demonstrate how introductions work, I had to improvise by yelling in what can only be described as a bad impression of Miley Cyrus: “I’m from the United States!” The last thing you would expect to hear from a stone cottage nestled in the mountains of the Mizen.


So how does it work? I put on some lipstick , brush my hair and wear the required uniform (a bright shirt) and forget my dignity because I will spend the next two hours yelling about alligators and crayons while somehow managing to keep a smile on my face.


The classes are done on a countdown basis, and the clock is visible which gives an odd sense of urgency to teaching children a story about space hoppers.


When I ask my students (with a covert glance at the clock) “where is the dog?”, what I really mean is “where is the vaccine??”


Still, I am lucky to have a job during these uncertain times.


Weeks without seeing friends or going for pints is made bearable by being trapped in an Irish paradise. Yes, the job can be repetitive at the best of times, but the seasons still change.


It has been a strange mix: seeing my hyperactive 3-year-old students grow up on a screen and noticing the lambs on my daily jog are fast becoming sheep.


How have my family dealt with my job? Well luckily my father’s zoom meetings have not run parallel with my Zoo themed classes. I am not sure it would be comforting to hear “IT’S A COW” because given our location, one of his colleagues might think an actual one had broken through the window.


My 21-year old brother was isolating in West Cork too and while he was writing academic essays about the EU, I was yelling at children to circle oranges. Thank goodness for noise-canceling headphones


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I am glad this pandemic hit in 2020 not when I was growing up in the 90s. I would have watched all my VHS tapes by now and owning a laptop allowing me to speak to Chinese people would have seemed as plausible as a flying car.


But now, thanks to the internet, we are all connected to the world even if we are confined to the walls of our homes.


While I hoped I would be teaching online on the beaches of Bali or in the hustle and bustle of Hanoi, I have to say that having a swim between lessons or a walk up the mountains after a particularly challenging student means I am still reaping the benefits of being able to work anywhere.


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Lovely spot for a tea-break from work


To be honest, when my dad told me years ago that he was moving to a cottage in the middle of nowhere, I thought he was a bit mad.


Now considering how everything that makes a city worth living in (nightlife, restaurants, dating) has changed, I am grateful for his decision.


In fact, as we enter into the final phases of lockdown, I have seen an increasing number of “Sold” signs around the area which makes me suspect that if people are forced to work from home when the next crisis hits, they may also want to ensure that their 5k radius is as scenic as possible.


 Source: https://www.corkbeo.ie 


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