Couple Teach English, Promote Chinese Culture

ByWang Shasha September 13, 2021
Couple Teach English, Promote Chinese Culture
Feng Yanan and her husband Matt Mears


Feng Yanan was diagnosed with lymphoma, in her lung, during her third year of senior middle school. That was in 2005. She didn't give up learning. Despite undergoing chemotherapy, she wrote and passed the national college-entrance exam, and she was admitted to Tianjin University of Technology, in North China's Tianjin Municipality. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in English in 2010. She also obtained a master's degree in English from University of Leicester, in the UK, in 2012.

Feng and Matt Mears, the British man with whom she later wed, met while working for an English-training company, in Guangzhou. Mears had been a news reporter for a broadcaster in the UK. He moved to Guangzhou in 2014 to teach English. In 2017, they returned to Feng's hometown, Yinchuan, in Northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, and established an English-training organization, Mears International English. They hoped children in western China could receive top-quality English education."We opened Mears International English because of our shared dreams," Mears says.

One Step Forward

Since Mears International English opened, on August 19, 2017, it has developed into one of the leading English-training organizations in Ningxia. It enjoys a good reputation among the locals.

"Our goal is to bring advanced English-teaching ideas and methods to the less-developed regions, so the children can receive better English education. At present, our organization has five campuses, and more than 100 employees, and we have more than 20 native English teachers from more than 10 countries," Feng says.  

Starting a business is not easy. The couple has put a lot of effort into running their business. "As young people, we should find what we want to do, and then keep fighting for it. By doing so, I believe life will get better and better," Feng says.

Her passion for life has affected so many people around her, especially her employees. Feng hopes to always spread positive energy, to contribute to social development, and to help her employees realize their personal value.

Feng has always cared about women's development in the workplace. On March 8, she organized a forum, with the theme of women's leadership and development, and she invited six outstanding women, in various fields, to share their thoughts on the theme.

"Women need to be more confident and brave. Sometimes, we need to push ourselves to move one step forward. Otherwise, we will probably miss some good opportunities," Feng says. "We should understand our strength and advantages, and we should be positive about ourselves."

Promoting Chinese Culture

Feng believes cross-cultural families play an important, and unique, role in promoting Chinese culture. "Foreigners' misunderstanding and prejudices about China often stem from their lack of understanding of China. My husband has lived in China for more than seven years, during which he has deepened his understanding of the country. He has blended in well with our big family, and he has adapted to life in Yinchuan," Feng says.

Cultural differences are unavoidable within cross-cultural families. Feng underlines two keywords — "respect" and "accept" — to deal with the differences. "We should have an open mind, and we should know how to respect others and accept the differences," Feng says.

"Besides teaching English, we are committed to spreading Chinese culture throughout the world. Matt and I have recorded videos about Chinese stories and Chinese culture, and we have uploaded the videos on overseas social-media platforms. We hope people will learn more about China, and fall in love with China," Feng says.

Their latest video is about zaocha (literally meaning morning tea, also known as dim sum) in Wuzhong, a neighboring city of Yinchuan. In May, they visited a famous restaurant in Wuzhong and introduced the history of Wuzhong zaocha. The mouthwatering breakfast impressed many netizens. Vece Mccoy, a netizen from the United States, commented, "That looks really good, and delicious."  

Learning Party's History

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Feng has organized several Party activities for her employees, so they can learn about the Party's history.

"In April, I invited my former history teacher, Yu Youchao (now president of Yinchuan No. 24 Middle School) to give a lecture on the Party's history. The lecture was well-received by our staff. Some said they had never thought a history class could be so lively and interesting. For foreigners, learning the history of the CPC and China will help them better understand and fit in while in China," Feng says.

"The prosperity of China is inextricably linked to the leadership of the CPC. Especially in 2020, the strong leadership of the Party was fundamental to China's rapid containment of the COVID-19 epidemic. My husband told me he felt safe and free in China," Feng says.

When the epidemic broke out in early 2020, Feng tried her best to help her foreign employees. "Some of our foreign teachers were not good at cooking. Feng cooked at home and sent meals to them. I was touched," Mears says.

"I am a son-in-law of China, and part of a big family in China. I wanted to do something for the people of Wuhan (in Central China's Hubei Province). So, we got our children to be part of this thing. When they did their homework, we donated money to Wuhan. That's a way to get children to understand the importance of helping people in a difficult time. We also got our staff to help give out free masks to people in Yinchuan," Mears says.

Last year, on behalf of their organization and students, the couple donated masks and protective suits, worth 20,000 yuan (US $3,077), to a hospital in Wuhan. They also donated anti-epidemic materials to a hospital in the UK. Most of the Chinese and foreign employees at Mears International English have received the COVID-19 vaccine.

"Building a better world requires the joint efforts of all mankind. Of course, it also requires cross-cultural integration and communication. We will keep striving forward to provide better English education to more children, and to spread Chinese culture to the world," Feng says.

Couple Teach English, Promote Chinese Culture
Feng Yanan and her families


Photos Supplied by Feng Yanan

(Women of China)


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