Inspired by his travels in Asia, Henk van Mourik and his partner were interested in living and working in China. The Netherlands native came to Beijing seven years ago and found his background as both a teacher and coordinator to be a good fit for the Western Academy of Beijing’s Dutch language program. Mourik shares more about himself with beijingkids in our Meet the Teacher blog series.
What was your favorite subject when you were a student?
As a student I loved to do math. Juggling with numbers and formulas was fun for me. Unfortunately I can’t share this experience in my languages class.
What did you want to be when you were a kid? What other career options did you explore before teaching?
As a kid I dreamed of becoming a train conductor. I used to regularly take the train back in The Netherlands to visit family. I loved to gather information about timetables, train routes, and types of trains. I found out in high school that working with kids was even more challenging. It’s great to inspire them and support them on their personal learning journey.
How would you (or your students) describe your teaching style?
As an open-minded teacher. I’m happy to see that my students like to share respectfully their learning experiences and their opinion in my classroom.
What was your favorite book growing up? What are you currently reading?
As a kid I loved to read historical fiction books from Dutch author Thea Beckman and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer from Mark Twain. Currently, China history books like Empress Dowager CiXi from Jung Chang fascinate me.
How do you like to relax on the weekends? When the weather is nice I like to explore the hutong neighborhoods in Dashilar and LiuLiChang. Between the old fashioned little shops you’ll find nice coffee shops like Soloist where they offer different kinds of drip coffees.I also like to go for hikes in West Beijing to Badachu Park and XiShan Park. You can enjoy the views over the city, and, at the same time, you seem far away from city life and end up in a little village.
Where do you like to go on holiday? Every trip, I like to combine culture and nature. My trip to Myanmar was perfect in that way. It’s a country with beautiful people, lots of culture to explore,, and beautiful views. Luckily it’s still not flooded by tourists. In summer I like to travel through Europe. Distances are short, so it’s easy to combine the beauty of mountains, enjoy the beaches, and stroll through the little alleys of the old towns.
Tell us something most people don’t know about you.
The Eurovision Song Contest is an annual big TV show in Europe. A singer or group who will perform one song represents a European country. Through a jury and tele-voting system, one country wins the contest and will organize the next year’s contest. I love to follow how every country selects their songs and how they try to find their special song with a remarkable presentation. It shows the diversity of Europe!
What’s currently on your playlist?
A friend sent me the latest album of Sia, who has a beautiful voice. The debut CD of Dotan has easy listening songs for quiet evenings.
What do you find most rewarding about teaching?
Last year a WAB alumni visited Beijing and told me how easy her transition back to her school in Belgium was because of the integrated Dutch program at WAB. For her, it came naturally, but it’s still remarkable that students can grow up with two or three languages and easily live in different places in the world. It’s great that I can support this with my teaching.
Meet the Teacher is a new beijingkids blog series designed to help the Beijing community learn more about international school teachers. If your school would like to participate in the series, please email the school editor at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Courtesy of WAB