Beloved Middle School Teacher Returns From China


Photo courtesy of Hester Burdman

The Burdman family traveling to different countries before the pandemic.

Caroline Carmichael, Reporter

Hester Burdman is currently a sixth-grade math and science teacher here at FWCD. She has two kids: Natalie ‘30 and Nicholas ‘28. Burdman recently returned from a year living abroad with her family mainly in Shanghai, but they also traveled to Australia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, and Tazmania. 

After the 2018-2019 school year, the Burdmans got ready to move. They could take very few things, so they packed up six suitcases and were on their way to China. They sold the household items that they couldn’t take with them and rebought the necessities once they arrived in Shanghai. 

The move was prompted by the want for new experiences. Burdman said, “we wanted to see what life abroad was like and experience new things”. Burdman was offered a job at an international school with students who also spoke English. 

Shanghai held many similarities to Fort Worth whether it was between the language spoken during school, the social media, or the American, European, and Japanese music being played. However, there were many differences that the Burdman family found too. The lifestyles being led by the Chinese people were very different from the lifestyles we live here. The culture, food, and importances were also found to be different. 

While living in Shanghai, their family remained easy to contact. Burdman said, “we facetimed our family and friends at least once a week.” Remaining in contact with their loved ones was not at all an issue for them.

Once COVID-19  struck China, the Burdmans began their journey into other countries. Natalie and Nicholas’ school was moved online, so the family packed up and traveled to Australia. Their life in Australia was full of adventures while they road-tripped down the western coast for two weeks. Their travels occurred close to one month after the large wildfires struck Australia, so they got to see all of the destruction and burnt remains left. When all of their travels were occurring, the pandemic was just beginning to hit Australia. Life in Australia was more similar to life in the United States. 

When the Burdman’s concluded the Australian travels, they returned to Shanghai. They returned just before China’s borders closed. Upon their arrival, they were put into a 14 day quarantine. 

Burdman said, “the quarantine in China is a lot stricter than the quarantine in the United States.” They were required to stay inside without leaving their apartment completely for 14 days. People came to their door daily to check temperatures and make sure they hadn’t left. The Chinese people also complied with the rules better than the Americans did. They listened to the mask protocols and followed the distance rules. 

The Burdman’s were able to leave China and come back to Fort Worth. Burdman says, “it was easy to return to Fort Worth, but the pandemic made it difficult.” Once they returned to Fort Worth, they had to be put into a 14-day quarantine again, but it was less strict with no people checking up on the temperatures daily. 

This was a tough spot for the FWCD family to fill.  Mr. Stephens, the head of middle school, said, “The entire time she was away, I was keeping an eye on ways to get her back.” When Mrs. Burdman left, she was the assistant head of the middle school. That position was then filled by Mr. Blan while she was away. The country day family was very sad to see her go but happy to see her experience new things. “We were jealous that she was taking a risk to give her family a life-altering international experience”, says Mr. Stephens. We welcomed Mrs. Burdman back this year as a sixth-grade math and science teacher. Stephens said, “It was easy to welcome her back. She is a tremendous asset to the school. People like her make administrators look better than they are.”