Where we work / China

China is known for being the longest, continuous civilization on earth.


ELIC considers it a privilege to have worked within the education sector in China throughout the last few decades as the country has experienced tremendous economic growth and reform. Teachers in China enjoy living on university campuses where they spend their daily lives with students, colleagues, and neighbors. We work hand-in-hand with key partners within China to ensure that our teachers and teams thrive.

ELIC sent its first team of six people to China in 1982. It is unlikely that any other single country is destined to have such sweeping global influence in the 21st century. Work alongside and build friendships with the future generations of China both inside and outside the classroom.

frequently asked


Job description

Which city is the new role in?

We work in 20+ cities across China. Our first cities of service began in 1981.  Over 40 years, the Father has graciously opened doors to more cities and schools.  

What does the weekly work schedule look like? How many students will the teacher have? How many different classes?

16 contract teaching hours (M-F) plus class prep, English corner & time with students


Typical classes include speaking, writing, content courses like the culture of English Speaking Countries, Journalism, or Model UN. Think of the typical classes an English or communications major at a US university would take, and those are often classes we teach.

What are the responsibilities of the role?

Daily Communication (DC) teachers: Teach conversational English and culture to grad students. 2 sections x 2 class hours/week + 12 hours/week small group conversations (called “EPC”) for 10 weeks. After the 10 classroom weeks, DC teachers have 16 EPC hours/week. Each DC and AC student needs to do 20 EPC hours. Academic Communication (AC): Teach grad students how to present research results at international conferences using English. 8 sections x 2 class hours/week * 9 weeks. After the 9 class lesson weeks, there are 7 weeks of a simulated conference in which each student presents a paper (6 students present per section per week in the 2-hour class lesson time).

What is the student demographic?

University Students

How much classroom prep time is required/expected each week?

Differs widely per teacher, but a good guess is prep/grading will be slightly less than the time spent in class. Teachers with a full 16-hour course load will spend about 10 hours prepping/grading per week. This tends to be higher when you first start and go down as you gain experience or re-teach courses. Course material and support is provided to help minimize the need for you to create content.

Will the teacher have an office on campus? Will the teacher be expected to hold office hours?

This depends on the school and city you work in.  Here are a few examples: 

The Pinnacle team has its own office. Each teacher has weekly office hours (about 1.5-2 hours)The team partners with an English club on campus to host monthly coffee house gatherings, and we help them host other club-sponsored events like English corners. The coffee house is usually the only event that the whole team attends.

We have an office. English office hours (90 minutes) and writing labs (one-to-one writing help for 3-30 minute sessions for a total of 90 minutes)

Yes, we have an office. Typically, each teacher has a 2 hour open office time each week. We also take part in a weekly English corner and monthly open lectures.

How many teachers are currently placed in China?


What are the bare minimum degree requirements needed by a new teacher in this role?

Bachelors Degree – Masters Degree

What are the ideal degree requirements needed by a new teacher in this role?

Bachelors or Masters

What are the experience or resume qualifications needed by a new teacher in this role? Is prior teaching experience necessary?

Prior teaching experience is not necessary for most placements. Some require 2 years of experience. 

Are there age restrictions for a new teacher?

Under 60

What will the new teacher learn after their first week in the classroom that will be a challenge for them as they move forward?

Some examples from various China schools: 

You will be amazed at the English level of the students here in Beijing. We work with national universities that attract some of China’s brightest students.

The students are so good and make you feel like a rockstar teacher. They are very helpful, sweet, primarily attentive and willing to do almost anything the teacher asks them to do. This can also be negatively taken, since they are just working so hard for their grade, but it makes teaching pretty easy.

Students are a joy and delight to teach and interact with! We go into the classroom for the first time knowing that, but the first week affirms the privilege for us to be teachers.

Simply meeting each class and going through the first lesson helps you learn a lot about your students’ language level and classroom context. Lesson planning becomes much less intimidating after meeting your students, knowing what your classroom looks like and what technology works, etc.

What else is important for the job?


This is one of the top schools in the country. Our students are brilliant and capable. We teach mostly spoken English – but this also includes debate and speech – as well as writing. Recently, the school has asked us to branch out into more content classes, like Western culture, legal English, and Model UN.

We have direct contact and very friendly relationships with our teaching office and can engage our peers in friendship and conversation.

Our whole team teaches in the same department (English department). All the students are preparing to be English teachers one day, so they seem much more motivated than the non-English majors I’ve taught at other schools in the past. They also have smaller classes (25-30 on average).

Team dynamics

What are the current team size and team demographic in the cities?

Varies based on city and location.

How often do you see your teammates each week in formal team meetings?


Twice per week, usually

1-2 times a week officially, though we do call each other up for different things. We’re a small team, so we can make it happen.

This changes every semester, but usually there is a formal team meeting 1-2 times a week.

Our teams usually meet together each week two or three times. You will have a weekly Word study together, time to lift together, and a team meal. Some teams may also have a weekly faculty meeting to talk about teaching-related things, plan lessons, or work on professional development.

Minimum of two times for a meal and lifting, then Sunday morning style. Teaching focused mtgs happen as needed.In displacement, we’ve met once weekly for 2 hours. In the Fall, we additionally had teaching focused meeting to help new teachers have support and all of us adjust to online teaching.

What do formal team meetings entail? What's the takeaway? Why do you meet? What's the value of formal team time?

We’ll meet on the weekends to either listen to a message or do a Word study together, sing, and lift. During the weeks we’ll meet to talk logistics and planning, and lift for one another. Once a month we gather at one of the campuses as a city team for different combinations of fellowship, worship, training, fun and food. Each of these times has the purpose of building up and encouraging one another, realigning ourselves with our campus/city vision, and launching us back out in the work we’ve been called to… but we like to have fun all along the way.

How often do you see your teammates each week informally deep-friedjust for fun? And what do you do together?


We often see teammates informally. We eat meals, relax (play games, do puzzles, watch a show or a movie), spend time with students together, go out for coffee, go to the movies, go to IKEA.

We live on the same stairwell in the same part of the building, so it’s very common to run into each other as we go out and come home. We often work at the same coffee shops, eat with students together, and do other social things together. We usually have a team fun time, ranging from once a week to once a month, where we cook together and just hang out or go out and do something fun in the city. The informal touch points are where we get to know each other well and give space for lots of inside jokes. We like to include students in these informal times as well, because those are great life-on-life moments that make impact. Seeing how we (the team) interact and love one another is a great impact on our students and friends.

Fun team story?

For Christmas Eve, everyone gets together at the Watsons’ home (one of our country leaders) for a Mexican potluck! Ben Watson makes yummy guacamole, everyone brings side dishes, and we have fun hanging out and singing carols.

We also do a big potluck for Thanksgiving! We rent out a room at a coffee shop on the LinDa campus, and we hang out for hours, eating DELICIOUS food, talking, and enjoying one another.

After our December city team meeting, we usually have something called the Ha-Lympics – a time to play snow games outside together!

Share a meaningful team story?

As a city team, we have found ourselves spread across a digital diaspora this past year and a half. In spite of that, toward the end of this most recent academic year one of our city teammates said in a meeting that she was shocked she could get to know, and love people so well simply from being part of online team with them.

One of our favorite team memories happened a few Thanksgivings ago. As a tradition, each team member invited one student that they were particularly close to, and that teacher and student brought a dish for our meal. We put a huge table in our (very cramped) living room, where we all sat together and shared a meal and some laughs. Towards the end of dinner, someone asked the very simple question, “What are you thankful for?” It turned into a very meaningful discussion, during which one of our Chinese brothers got to share his story to the other students. What started as a simple act of hospitality and friendship transformed into a really impactful moment.

Another meaningful team story is when one of our city teammates had a baby in Harbin. Several of the city team women came to support her during and after the birth – even staying the night and holding the baby so that the tired new mom could get some sleep! Afterwards, teammates brought them food for a month, helped them hold the baby so that they could shower or get work done, and in general just came around them to support in any way possible.

City & everyday life

How long has Pinnacle been in cities in China?

Since 1981

What does the first week typically look like for new teachers? How do they get their lives "started"?

Here are some examples from our current cities of service in China: 

When you first arrive at your schools in Beijing, you will get set up in your apartment. This means getting it cleaned and also getting the internet and phone services taken care of. You will also accomplish administrative tasks with the school (setting up bank accounts, getting campus ID cards, trips to HR, Finance, and other offices to make sure direct deposit is functional, etc.). Beyond the administrative details, you will also spend time with the team getting to know each other and exploring the different areas of the city we call home.

We usually get new phones or sim cards as soon as possible after they arrive and see their new homes. We show them where to go to get food and how to get around campus. Also, organizing the home and cleaning take up a lot of the first week if class preparation isn’t needed.

We eat out a lot, and take them to our grocery store and show them the type of food we usually buy and what that looks like. We also get the teachers a new phone/SIM card, subway card, we have a little week of “orientation” that involves taking them around the campus and starting them navigating the school shuttles along with any team training. This year, we’ll also have to register them at the gates of our school to put them in the system so we can scan their faces and they can get on campus.

When teachers arrive from Beijing training, some are met by  a school representative, some are not. Someone from the campus or city team will be at the airport to meet them. They can expect a welcome basket of home essentials in their apartment assembled by the city team that will help get them through the first week or so. They will spend the first few days getting unpacked and settled in their apartment, go to the police station to get registered (some schools send an assistant, if not, someone who speaks Chinese will accompany them), and walk around the campus area to get oriented. They go to the store to buy food and spend time with other new city teammates preparing for their first class. We, the CCs, will come visit within the first day or two. There will probably be a city meeting within the first week or two to meet the whole city.

What does housing look like in China? How far away are housing options from the school? From your teammates?

Examples of housing in China: 

Housing at both BIT and Renda are on campus, provided to us by the school. We are near neighbors with our teammates. We all live in the same building, and at Renda, on the same floor. Apartments are roomy by Chinese standards! The best part of our apartments is that we live on campus with great proximity to students, classes, and events.

Housing for families (possibly 3 or more) is in large (new and nice) apartments. I believe the new families will be put into the new apartment complexes where Jess and I live. The singles and possibly smaller families are placed by the FAO office near Teaching Building 5 (very close to where English teachers usually teach) about 20 minutes from the larger family housing. This housing is older but decent. I also believe they may have updated the interiors of these apartments.

Most foreign teachers live in one building, with us being the exception (because we’re a couple). The single-teacher apartments are small, one-bedroom apartments, but newer than ours. Their building also has 2 “managers” (watchers) who are there 24/7. The gates and front door are usually locked around 11:00 p.m.,, which has caused some problems if the key isn’t working and someone has to wake up and let the late-comers in. I’m not sure if that is still the case, but as of last year, it was. The day manager is very sweet, and she’s very hands-off compared to the previous manager. The teachers can buy water on the first floor for 12 Kauai (I think) but they have to lug it up the stairs themselves if no one is around to help them. Their building is 2 buildings away from ours. Previously, a family was going to come here and the school offered them a bigger apartment that’s in the same parking lot as the FAO office. This is probably for safety reasons. Those apartments are 2 bedrooms with a balcony and kitchen and whatnot. Our apartment is also 2 bedrooms, but a different layout. The building by the FAO building is on the other side of campus (where Kevin and I used to live) and would take about 45 minutes to walk to the other teachers’ apartments, or they could take a shuttle which sometimes comes on time. When we lived over there, we still had to plan at least 30 minutes of travel time to go to the other side of campus, or you could walk out a gate, catch a taxi, and taxi it 10 minutes for 10 Kuai over to the other teachers’ apartments.

HEU: Our teachers live on campus in a dorm building for other foreign teachers and foreign students. These apartments have two bedrooms, a living space, a kitchen area, and a bathroom. Our teachers either live in the same hallway as one another or live on the floor directly above each other. The building has a check-in policy for people who live there and also for visitors. There is a curfew for visitors as well. The building is about a 10-15 minute walk from where most of the classes take place.

Note about all campuses: there is strong heat indoors in the winter! Yay! All of the apartments run on a radiator system, and it depends on when the city “turns on the heat.” There can be a brief, few-week period in the fall when it is cold inside, but typically by the time mid-winter hits, we are all wearing shorts and t-shirts inside because it is so toasty!

HIT: There are a few options available. Most new teachers live in a dorm with foreign students and other foreign teachers. Our teachers’ homes are larger than a typical dorm room, and have two rooms (one a bedroom/office space and the other a living space), a kitchen area, and a bathroom. Most of our new teachers live on the same hallway as one another. This building has a check-in policy and curfew (10 p.m.) for visitors. Other teammates who have been at the school longer and have solid Chinese language have opted to live in apartments that are also right on campus (less than a five minute walk away from their teammates’ dorm building). These apartments typically have two bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen, and a living area. All of the living buildings are about 5-10 minutes from where our teachers have class.

Note about all campuses: there is strong heat indoors in the winter! Yay! All of the apartments run on a radiator system, and it depends on when the city “turns on the heat.” There can be a brief, few-week period in the fall when it is cold inside, but typically by the time mid-winter hits, we are all wearing shorts and t-shirts inside because it is so toasty!

NEFU: The teachers live in apartments on campus. The other foreign teachers live in the same stairwell, and our teachers typically have apartments that are “stacked” on top of each other (someone on the second floor, third floor, fourth floor, fifth floor). The apartment has two bedrooms, a living space, a kitchen area, a bathroom, and a small sunroom for drying clothes. There is a door guard who checks visitors in. In recent years, there has been a curfew for visitors (around 10 p.m.) The apartments are a 5-10 minute walk from where the teachers have class.

Note about all campuses: there is substantial heat indoors in the winter! All of the apartments run on a radiator system, and it depends on when the city “turns on the heat.” There can be a brief, few-week period in the fall when it is cold inside, but typically by the time mid-winter hits, we are all wearing shorts and t-shirts inside because it is so toasty! Yay!

What is the local currency in China? Do people typically carry cash? Credit cards?

RMB. Cash accepted. Paying by phone is most common.

How do people generally travel to their school? What is public transportation like in the city?

If they live close, they walk. 

Changchun is like the Detroit of China, known for car manufacturing! But you’ll be more interested in visiting Jingyue Park, one of the largest national forest parks in China, only about a mile away from JISU and JUFE. The park is centered around a large lake and is an excellent place to rent a bike and enjoy the scenery. If you like nature, Nanhu Park and the World Sculpture Park are worth a visit. This may sound strange, but Changchun also has several great malls, where people like to hang out in the cold winter months.

What does shopping for food look like in the city? Do people normally eat out? Cook for themselves? Share meals with teammates?

The food in Cambodia is nutritious. Vegetables and fruit are plentiful and relatively inexpensive, although special care should be taken to wash each piece carefully. There are special washes available at grocery stores. Fruits should be peeled before eating. Budget around $4.00-$7.00 per day per person if you’re eating in your home.

In the past, some teachers have hired an in-home cook. Not many teachers use a cook today, but there are benefits to hiring a cook. A cook can save teachers money because they can often purchase food cheaper than a foreigner. Cooking/going to the market in Cambodia is more time-consuming than in the west. Khmer cooks also help you to learn to appreciate Cambodian cuisine at home. A typical meal at home consists of soup, a meat and vegetable dish, and rice.

The tap water is NOT safe to drink. Our teachers usually purchase five-gallon containers of water from a local distributor that delivers to the home. They can also buy a system with a water filter, which will save them money in the long run and the hassle of calling for water to be delivered.

There are many good restaurants in Phnom Penh. It is easy to find Khmer, Chinese, Thai, Korean, Mexican, Italian, Greek, German, Russian, Swiss, Indian, and American cuisines. Several fast-food burger restaurants and most local restaurants deliver pizza and other meals to your home. The prices range from very cheap to comparable with US prices, depending on the restaurant.

Several international grocery stores have many western name-brand products. The prices may or may not be more expensive than in the US, but it is still cheaper to buy locally than to ship. There are also several good Cambodian markets with many products, including food, clothing, and household goods.

What is China culturally known for? Where are fun spots to take new visitors?


Beijing is a city rich in history. It has been the home of emperors since the 13th century and is the capital of China today. The cultural opportunities in Beijing are nearly endless! Beyond the Great Wall and the Forbidden City (rites of passage for anyone!), the city offers almost endless historical, architectural, artistic, and other cultural opportunities. Global orchestras regularly tour through town, and it boasts some of the grandest museums in the whole country.

Hot Pot and spicy food! The zoo has some great pandas and is easy to get into and not expensive. There are many great malls in the city, and the nights are always lit up with spectacular lights displays off of all of the skyscrapers. The nearby Dao temple is a great hike as well as Yikeshu as they both give great views of the city proper and the two rivers. Another great way to see the area around us is to hike up into the jungle surrounding campus.

Oh my gosh! SO much! Chongqing is a tremendous Western-friendly place with so much history and culture and new malls to check out. We have history and can still see the caves where people retreated to escape the bombs. You can still walk into some of them! We have great hiking trails as long as you don’t mind stairs or the heat and humidity. We have great food like hot pot and since we live near a campus, there’s a great variety of food like Northeastern Chinese food, Western food, McDonalds, pizza, Muslim noodles, Korean, Guandong food, etc. We’re far from downtown (about an hour and a half subway ride), but there’s a lot of fun stuff to do downtown if you have the energy to go there. You can go shopping just about anywhere (of course), bowling, movie theaters, fellowships, IKEA, plant stores, river walks, riverboat cruises, a wax museum… There’s a lot!

Harbin is known for a distinct Russian influence. Before they came in with the Trans-Siberian railway, Harbin was just a cluster of small fishing villages along the SongHua river (the name “Harbin” means “place of drying nets” in the local language). After the Russians came, they built up the city’s infrastructure and left their mark in the architecture of many buildings that still stand today. Harbin became known as the “Paris of the Orient” and the “City of Music” as the Russians wove aspects of their culture and economy into the city’s history.

The city is also known internationally for its distinct “Ice and Snow” culture. In the winter, there is the international Ice and Snow World, where visitors can see huge statues made out of ice and snow, go sledding, or walk through huge buildings of lit-up ice. There are also many ice or snow sculptures throughout various districts in the city.

Fun spots to visit include many of the old Russian Orthodox churches, including the famous St. Sofia church that has been turned into a museum. The famous cobblestone walking street, ZhongYang DaJie, boasts many stores and tourist shops. There are also many pretty parks along the SongHua river, including Sun Island. If you’re really brave, you can check out the Siberian Tiger Park and watch the tigers being fed live chickens or goats!

Hengyang is called “goose city” because it’s where the geese supposedly fly for the winter. It’s also near “Heng Shan” which is one of the five holy Buddhist mountains in China.

Hunan is the birthplace of Chairman Mao and he worked in Changsha (the capital) at the beginning of his career serving the people. There are several other famous military and political leaders from the province as well.

Changsha is known as being a “pleasure city.” It’s famous for its nightlife, eating, foot washing (think foot massage), and shopping! It’s also where the Hunan TV station is located, one of the most popular TV stations in the country! Changsha is also considered a red city because of its importance to recent Chinese history. Hunan is the birthplace of Chairman Mao, and he worked in Changsha at the beginning of his career serving the people. There are several other famous military and political leaders from the province as well.

Siping is also the hometown of two empresses of the Qing Dynasty, Empress Dowager Cixi and Empress Dowager Longyu. It was also the site of several major battles during the Chinese Civil War between the Chinese Communist and Nationalist forces from 1945 to 1949. (wikipedia.com)

We often take visitors to the “botanical gardens”. If you’re lucky, the ferris wheel will be open. There’s also a beautiful pagoda at the top of a hill that overlooks the city.

Yinchuan is the capital city of a region set aside by the national government for the Hui Muslim minority group. The region boasts five specialties: roast mutton, goji berries, licorice, coal, and Helan stones. Fun spots include the nearby Helan Mountains; outdoor Western Film Studio; Sand Lake; and Shapotou, a tourist site in the Tengger Desert.

What do meals look like during school hours? Do teachers share meals with students?


Meals are often shared with teammates and/or students. Families usually cook at home but going out to eat, either at a campus cafeteria or off-campus restaurant, is very common. Shopping for food ranges from grocery delivery apps (Hema, and others) to grocery stores and local fruit and veggie markets.

Food can be found at the local open market or at two local grocery stores. If needed, one can also go down the mountain to any of the grocery stores down below. Also, the FAO can and has arranged trips to Metro to find the more exotic items of food. But TaoBao also gives us access to most of these items and is easier than a trip to Metro in general. There are a ton of good restaurants right near campus out the main gates. I believe that most people cook for themselves on a daily basis, but to get out or meet people, we can go out and get some good food easily.

So much food! We probably have about ten cafeterias on campus that are subsidized, so there are many options for the price-conscious teachers among us if they don’t mind sub-par meals (my opinion). The cafeterias are only open during meal times, though. The restaurants are also cheap if you just get a simple rice dish. There are also great dish restaurants around. So many options! The store is about a 10-minute walk from our apartments, though you have to be strong to carry everything you want to cook. If you don’t want to go all the way to the grocery store, we have smaller stores and a veggie market down the hill from our apartments that do in a pinch (though they are more expensive than the grocery store). You can also order any food or groceries delivered to your apartment (not the apartments on the other side of campus, though. Those orders only go to a specific drop-off location). Most of our previous teammates cooked for themselves, though one didn’t, she was still able to feed herself fine. The restaurants are only about a 10-minute walk away.

All of our campuses have small markets close by, where teachers can buy fresh vegetables and fruit and meat, depending on the location. Most teachers buy their staple items there or at bigger supermarkets that are usually a short bus ride away. We also have an import store called Metro, where people get supplemental items that are not found in the local stores. A lot of our teachers cook, but we also share a lot of meals together as a team (usually 1-2 scheduled meals per week, but also lots of impromptu meals as well.) Our teachers also like to eat in the cafeterias with students or go out to eat with students or friends. There is a great variety of restaurants (noodle places, dishes places, etc.), and the local food is delicious!

We shop at grocery stores, local farmer’s markets, and online. Fresh produce is available almost anywhere. We eat on campus in the cafeterias, near campus at some of our favorite restaurants, and cook for ourselves. There are small shops in the alley between the apartments and the campus gate. There is a larger supermarket across from the front gate of the old campus (about a 15-minute walk) and other options just a bus ride away.

Siping doesn’t have any western chains of grocery stores, but we do have a supermarket in the Wanda Mall, which is about a 10-minute taxi drive away. We order many western goods like cheese, butter, etc online. It’s very convenient! There are also several smaller markets just outside the campus gates, where you can buy your cooking basics (eggs, sauces, sugar, etc.) and a limited range of fruits and veggies. Many teachers like to eat in the student small market with their students, and there’s a good variety of options, including hotpot and dumplings. There are plenty of other restaurants within walking distance or a 5-minute taxi ride as well. Our teams usually have a meal together at least once a week, but we often share meals in smaller groups throughout the week as well.

What local dish is the city known for?

Beijing roast duck is the most famous dish the city has to offer. Roasted whole, the skin is crispy, and the meat is tender. The sliced meat is served with sliced cucumber, onion, cilantro, and plum sauce that you roll up together on your own in a small thin pancake. It’s delicious!

Hot pot and 小面 (Little noodles, I guess is the translation), which is a delicious noodle dish. Apparently, frog is also a local dish, but we don’t eat much of that. 🙂

GuoBaoRou – deep fried pork cutlets in a sweet and tangy sauce

Various stewed dishes, including one that contains green beans, pumpkin, corn, and pork

Stir-fried green beans

Tangy potato slivers

Chun bing – basically like Chinese tacos! Flatbread that you can fill with several yummy dishes

One of the most popular dishes in Hunan is stir-fried pork and peppers. It’s usually very spicy and delicious. One of our favorite dishes at a local restaurant is stir-fried pork, peppers, and crispy rice.

There’s a special kind of Bing that Siping is known for that you can get nearby. Also, sweet and sour pork (not like your Chinese takeout restaurants!), spicy green beans, and caramelized sweet potatoes are all favorites. You can find all kinds of dishes with rice or noodles. Jilin Province is pretty well known for its rice. It sounds lame, but you learn to taste and appreciate the difference!

Does China have any western chain stores or restaurants?

You can find practically anything in Beijing. We’ve got good bakeries (BakerandSpice), Cafes (Wagas, Element Fresh), legit bbq (Home Plate), and lots of other options. Many, but not all, are on the east side of the city. This is a hike but totally worth it from time to time.

IKEA, Walmart, Carrefour, Metro, Starbucks, Macdonalds, Burger King, KFC. It’s got a great hamburger joint called Light’s Burger that makes good western burgers (but I don’t think the chain is actually western).

Near our campus, there are a lot of smaller Western restaurants, like Wallace’s (fried chicken), multiple pizza places (might have a Chinese spin on it, though) and some places have steak (again, might have a Chinese spin on it). We just got a McDonald’s and KFC isn’t too far away from the end of the subway line, which is somewhat near to the other side of campus.

What's your favorite thing to do as a team in the city? What do people do for fun or during downtime?

You can get almost anywhere in the country on a bullet train from Beijing. If you have a long weekend and want to get away, you will have a number of options under 8 hours away (Shanghai, Xi’an, Taiyuan, Nanjing, the northeast provinces, etc). People often visit Pinnacle friends or go home with Chinese friends during these breaks.

Our teams like to eat out together, go to movies together, enjoy parks together (the parks in Beijing are awesome!!), and spend time with students together.

We love to drink milk tea with students, go work at a drink shop, and explore the city. There’s ice skating, trampoline parks, and pottery options that are super fun too. “WuYi” square is at the heart of the city and a fun place to walk around, eat, shop, and enjoy city life. There are a couple of lakes and a mountain that give us a nature fix while still staying in the city. One thing we love doing is “footwashing” which is a popular activity in the city. It’s basically a foot massage, and it’s the best!

How do people exercise in the city?


A lot of folks work out in their apartments or go walking or running. Some people like to go to the school gym. One school (HIT) has a swimming pool where that school’s teachers can swim laps.

People get out and walk, go on bike rides, run around campus, play ultimate frisbee or go to the gym. All options are readily available!

There is a gym on campus that anyone can join for a monthly fee, and there are other off-campus gyms in the area. Several teachers have joined the “off campus” gym for a price of less than $20 each month.

Our campuses are somewhat on the outskirts of town, which means there are a lot of good streets to go running or biking more safely than if you were in the busy city center. Each campus has a stadium and track that is open to use. JISU has a gym in the student center that anyone can join for a monthly fee, and there are other off-campus gyms in the area.

How do people spend their weekends in the city? Are there cities nearby that people typically visit for a weekend away?


Weekends are for hanging out with students, exploring the city, and getting some rest. Some fun places to visit nearby: Jiujiang (the mountain resort area), Jingdezhen (the home of china/porcelain), and Changsha (to visit our teachers there and hit up IKEA).

Changchun is on a high-speed rail line, which means that many other cities are only a few hours away. Harbin is an easy weekend trip, and their annual Ice and Snow Festival is well-worth a visit. Shenyang has some interesting museums and historical sites. Jilin City is just about 30 minutes away by train, and is famous for its winter hoarfrost that covers the trees along the river. Siping is also just 30 minutes away, where you can visit other Pinnacle friends on our city team!

Pinnacle teachers often like to go to Changchun, the neighboring city to visit friends and the beautiful parks. Harbin is an easy weekend trip, and their annual Ice and Snow Festival is well-worth a visit. Shenyang has some interesting museums and historical sites. Jilin City is just about 30 minutes away by train, and is famous for its winter hoarfrost that covers the trees along the river.

We’ll always gather for fellowship with one another and get out to eat together. If it’s warm, some might head to the beach, or hit up the malls in the evening, or head over to the internet café to play games with students. Nearby cities of interest are Weihai (30 minutes by train), Penglai (home of several famous attractions), and Qingdao (2 hours away, but an even bigger/more famous city with lots to see and do).

Family & growth

How do people generally work with Member Care Specialists in China?

We generally meet one-on-one with our member care specialist at least once during the semester, but people also freely reach out to their member care specialist if they need an outside voice or listening ear on an issue they are facing.

What does ongoing professional and personal development look like in China?

In addition to times of team lifting and learning, individuals are encouraged to grow personally and spiritually throughout their life in-country. Making space for solitude with Him, times of intentional lifting and listening, or mutual accountability are huge parts of our lives. Our city is full of curious people who learn all kinds of things about teaching, life and culture in China, and spiritual growth as well.

Our monthly city meetings usually have a spiritual element to them. Our teams all study the Word together weekly. We also place everyone in a group with peers from within the city team to talk about their personal lives and struggles to provide encouragement and accountability.

What's it like to raise a family in China?

Beijing is a good city to raise a family. There is a wealth of options for outings and activities, plus the medical care in the city is among the best in the country. Many Pinnacle families have given birth at the international hospital here in town over the years.

We’ve had four babies born in Harbin in the last eight years, all at a private hospital. These experiences have been mostly positive, though they do require Chinese ability. One thing we have loved about raising kids in Harbin is that our city teammates have really been a “tribe” to help us raise our children – from watching them so that we can go out on a date, to just being in our home and doing life alongside of us. We feel that our kids really get to see hospitality modelled in the home from an early age, and they are very fond of their Pinnacle “aunties” and “uncles”.

Just like raising kids in the US, there are joys and challenges. Raising kids cross-culturally may cause them to miss out on some things in their passport country, but it gives them a rich experience learning to live in a different culture, to love their neighbors and make friends with those who are different from them, and to have a kingdom mindset. There are lots of fun things to do with kids as well. Most malls have play areas that are super fun for kids (jungle gyms, trampoline parks, ice skating, etc). There are opportunities to learn music, art, taekwondo, and pottery. There are several parks in the city that have green space and even some fun water games in the lakes.

What schooling options are available in China for ELIC families with children?

Of the two families who have school age kids, one homeschools and the other sends their kids to Chinese public school. International schools are plentiful but very expensive in Beijing.

There are multiple kindergartens nearby (one on campus, but it is a little harder to get into). CQUPT also has an attached primary school about 30 minutes away by bus that we send our 7 year old to.

Homeschool is the primary way our families have chosen for their kids’ education. Many of our families have put their kids in Chinese kindergarten for a few years to help them connect with other kids and learn Chinese. There is the possibility of putting them in Chinese school for longer, past kindergarten. There are a few families who put their kids in Chinese school for half a day all the way through elementary school. If that were the case we would just encourage them to talk with their kids about what their learning, especially in history and science classes and supplement with something more like-minded.

What roles do non-teaching spouses typically play in China?

Non-teaching spouses have done many different things over the years in Beijing, from coming alongside teachers as a Teaching Specialist or Member Care Specialist, to informally acting as hosts for singles in the city, to being a non-teaching listening ear for students. They also often put deep roots down into the local communities around campus. Not to mention responsibilities as a homeschool teacher, parent, spouse and teammate!

Additional points for families?

CQUPT is really supportive of families and gives us large apartments (some of the nicest and largest I have seen in China actually). There are plenty of places for the kids to go out and play and schooling is of course available for the kids.