|Kim Gilbertson, a music teacher of Suzhou Singapore International School, tutors students in singing, flute, violin, guitar, clarinet and other instruments.(Shanghai Daily)|
South Dakota is a long way from China but operatically trained singer Kim Gilbertson feels right at home, teaching music and English and planning to help disadvantaged children in rural schools.
Nine years ago, Gilbertson arrived to teach English for one year at the Suzhou Singapore International School. When her singing ability and music background became apparent, she transferred to the music department.
Her classroom is filled with musical instruments, posters of performers, and students working hard to perfect their guitar chords or master another clarinet piece.
It could be a classroom at any school, anywhere in the world, but Gilbertson says she wouldn't want to be anywhere but Suzhou.
"I was told that when you come to China you love it or hate it, and there's no middle ground. Everything is new and so very romantic but then you crash because you miss home and miss the food and miss the people," she tells Shanghai Daily. "But I never had the part where I didn't like China."
Gilbertson says her very small hometown has just 600 people.
"There are more people living in Suzhou than my entire state. I thinks that's the beauty and energy of it that helps keep me focused, happy and alive here in China," she says.
"When I go back to South Dakota, I go back to my country roots, quiet streets and open spaces but Suzhou is home and where I enjoy coming back after every holiday."
A trained opera singer, Gilbertson works with pupils from every age group, tutoring them in singing, flute, violin, guitar, clarinet and other instruments.
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