What plans do you have for your retirement? Maybe a cruise? Or taking the RV around
Australia’s caravan parks? I bet teaching English in China for 12 months is not on your list
but that’s exactly what Vicki Kingsland did!
Vicki recalls “I remember in kindergarten, the teacher putting me at a table with a bunch
of kids who don’t speak much English and I wondered what I could teach them?” So even
from an early age, Vicki has been helping her peers learn!
Having achieved degrees in computing, special education and librarianship, Vicki started
teaching in 1965, working in many different schools in Sydney. In 2011, she was a
teacher/librarian in a school in Auburn when her role was made redundant with just ten
minutes notice. Vicki was so discombobulated that she caught the wrong train when she
was trying to get home! She applied for many other teaching positions but at 67 years
old, no schools were wanting to hire her.
Then a friend saw an ad in the Sydney Morning Herald to teach English in China and
suggested it to Vicki – who applied and got it straightaway. Her children were surprised to
say the least but as Vicki said “It’s the only place that will have me!”
From August 2012, Vicki spent the next 12 months teaching English to teenagers aged
13-14 in Yangzhou (a prefecture-level city in Jiangsu Province, East China). Living in a 4th
floor apartment above the classrooms meant taking 76 stairs up and down at least once a
day. Together with Lyndon, another English teacher, they spent their spare time exploring
the city by foot. One memory Vicki treasures is watching it snow on Christmas Eve –
something we don’t get in Sydney!
Returning to Sydney in Aug 2013, Vicki was called to take another teaching position in
Chongming Island (near Shanghai) for another 3 months. Unfortunately, they couldn’t
organise a longer visa because by then, the Chinese government has instituted a policy of
not employing foreigners over 65.
Fast forward to 2021, Vicki is now a Minto Gardens resident, attending Grace Anglican
Church, and enjoying the local Scrabble Club at the council library. Having heard her
story, we asked Vicki if she would like to co-ordinate/lead an Easy English Convo Club
with some residents here who wanted to improve their English and she agreed. Vicki will
be resourced from Anglicare’s ESL department, thanks to Sue Radkovic, who wanted to
trial a new English conversation group idea. Whoever said that retirement meant a boring
life certainly hasn’t met Vicki who is a great example of one of our ‘thriving seniors’.