In the fifth of our regular series of interviews with staff at Dulwich International High School Suzhou, we are delighted to present the highlights of an interview with Hetal Ascher who teaches English at our school.
01. Where are you from and where did you grow up?
I’m from the best state in the US, Minnesota! It’s a beautiful area in the northern part of the states. I recommend all my students to visit!
02. Tell us about your Educational background + teaching experience
I attended the University of Northwestern, St. Paul for my B.A. in ESL Education K-12. After that, I taught ESL at a public middle school for four years, and then I obtained my M.A. in ESL Education with an emphasis in Literacy from Hamline University
03. Who is your biggest role model?
My grandma! My grandmother was born in India in a time when women were not allowed to get a proper education. However, her father did not agree with this mindset and put her in one of the few women’s colleges in the state. There she studied “feminine” subjects like poetry, archery, religion. Because of this education, she shaped my family to be more forward-thinking than many other families. She believes in dealing with adversity through love and respect rather than anger and hate. I grow to be more and more like her.
04. What are your hobbies and what do you enjoy most about them?
我喜欢学习中文。每个星期六我有中文课。我觉得学习中文帮我明白中国的文化。我也喜欢吃中国菜。我很喜欢饺子，火锅，包子，和煎饼。(Answered in Chinese: I enjoy learning Chinese. I have a Chinese class every Saturday. I think learning Chinese can help me to understand Chinese culture. I also like Chinese foods. I like dumplings, hotpot, Steamed bun and Chinese pancakes.)
05. What is most rewarding about your job?
I believe that English classes should be very active. I really love it when my students get super involved in the activities and games that we play.
06. If you could be in any musical or movie or a book character what would it be? Why?
Definitely Harry Potter. I would love to do magic and study at Hogwarts! Working at Dulwich reminds me of Harry Potter on a daily basis. There are many features of British education that before coming here, I had only known about from the Harry Potter series.
07. Tell us about your experiences living in China and Suzhou
My husband and I love living in Suzhou. It’s incredibly beautiful! Right now, just on my daily route from home to work, I see such a variety of beautiful flowers and plants.
I’ve also found that Suzhou is a comfortable place to live as an expat. I can easily get both Western things that I need – food, books, etc, as well as getting to try Chinese things.
08. How do you find teaching Chinese students/or students?
I found that actually teaching Chinese students is not so different from teaching American students. I think many people may think teaching Chinese students is different – that they are quieter and prefer lecturing, but actually, I find that my students are enthusiastic about collaborative learning and group work.
09. Any advice to students at Dulwich international High School Suzhou?
Dulwich has an incredibly varied amount of amazing opportunities. Most of us have never had these types of options in our high school. I think students would be wise to try things like starting a charity or participating in a video challenge.
Also, my other piece of advice to students is to practice English! They have access to so many native speakers and are surrounded with other students with a high ability in English. Everyone should take the opportunity to practice English in a safe environment so that when they go to university and obtain jobs, they have every opportunity and no struggle to understand.
10. What are your plans for the next 5 years？
I plan to eat hotpot at least once a week for the next five years.