In 1985 I was sent to China on a teaching assignment by the ESEC organization (Educational Services Exchange with China), as it was known at that time. There were 60 teachers sent out that year and I was placed on a team of four that were sent to Shanghai to teach English at Jiaotong University, one of China’s top engineering schools. We had a group of 100 students each semester. They were placed there by selection of the university to improve their English communication skills as many of them were scholars applying for admission to pursue their education at universities in America and Great Britain. They ranged in ages from 20 to 50.
We found our students to be charming and delightful, and laughter always filled our classrooms. They were a joy to teach, highly motivated and eager to learn. They often begged us for more homework.
Living and working in China for a year exposed us to many wonderful adventures that the average tourist would never experience. There were trips to Beijing by overnight train, and exploring out of the way ruins of the Great Wall. On one particular visit to the Wall, the mayor of a near-by town discovered that a bus-load of American teachers were visiting and insisted we come to the local dining hall and threw us a very large banquet. We found the Chinese to always be very gracious and hospitable. There was a trip to Hong Kong to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The fireworks were phenomenal, with explosions of tigers and various designs that defy description.
The trip to Xian to visit Emperor Qin’s burial site with his terra cotta army was unforgettable. Another special privilege for me was getting to meet my pen-pal in Guangdong. We had been exchanging letters for several years.
It goes without saying, my year in China was the adventure of a lifetime!