My year in China was eventful. I tried very hard to keep a record of my daily activities.
Some days were more exciting than others; I'll let you be the judge.
Sadly I did not continue my written journal past the first semester. However, for the 2nd semester I have included a synopsis and reflections on some high points along with photos.
This is a work in progress as the journals need to be typed up for posting here. As time permits more days will be added. It is my hope you enjoy reading about my time in China. I met some wonderful people and the experiences were all memorable.
During the summer of 1985 I spent three months in Pasadena, California studying and training with the Educational Services Exchange with China. This was a Christian based organization that trained and sponsored speakers of English to go as teachers to various universities in mainland China. There were sixty of us assigned that year. We were all sent out in teams, and I was assigned to be on a four-person team to Jiaotong University in Shanghai. To say that this experience was one of the highlights of my life would be an understatement. It is my hope that in sharing some of my journal entries, I might encourage and inspire others to consider a year or two commitment to a foreign country to teach English. You do not necessarily have to have a teaching degree. Within my group of trainees there were various professions represented: singles and married people, as well as those who were retired and looking for another life adventure. For me, it was a lifelong dream come true. Our teachers were paid a salary by the university. It was more than adequate as the university provided our living quarters. Our only expenses were food and travel.
This particular organization has changed its focus and now reaches out to various other countries as well. At present, there are many similar organizations at work here in the United States, so the possibilities are endless. Are you a single, married couple or retiree looking for a challenging and fulfilling experience, with the added bonus of travel and adventure? Let me encourage you to consider using your English language skills to serve overseas. So…if you’re curious to see how my year went, I invite you to join me on our Pan Am flight out of Los Angeles on Friday, September 6, 1985. Just days before leaving I discovered I had been assigned to be our team captain which meant I would be the liaison between our team and the university. Didn’t know what that meant necessarily, but I would soon find out. Following are excerpts from my journals. I should add the disclaimer that many of those experiences I had and the things I saw over thirty-five years ago have undergone dramatic changes. I’m told that I wouldn’t even recognize Shanghai now, it has changed so much. I’m grateful I got to experience it when I did, when the nation was still reeling from the effects of the Cultural Revolution, and so eager to experience life’s fullness and joy once again.
First leg of our journey was a ten-hour flight to Tokyo with a two hour lay-over. Tokyo was a bit of a hazy experience with most of our teams looking for a place to stretch out. Some were lucky to find benches. Jet-lag was already setting in. About half of our teachers were on this flight. We would be splitting up to various parts of China once we hit Shanghai. Touchdown in Shanghai 7 p.m. (actually 5 a.m. L.A. time). By now the adrenaline was kicking in and we were wide awake. We were met by Xia Jin Yao, one of our two administrative liaisons from Jiao Tong University. We were escorted right through customs, and our bags and luggage were not even checked. All of us were piled into vans and taxis and whisked off to Tian Lin apartments, where the universities’ foreign teacher guest house is located. I was assigned a nice roomy apartment with my teammate, Karen Pardoe. Rollie and Nora Lewis (a couple from Canada) were also assigned to our team, and placed in an apartment right below us. The apartment complex is quite nice, for Chinese standards! There are six floors in our building, with two apartments located on each floor. We were pleasantly surprised to find a three-bedroom apartment, with airconditioned bedrooms, a color T.V., a small kitchen with a mini-refrigerator and no stove, and a small portable Japanese washing machine in the bathroom that loves to eat clothes. We are quite comfortable here, actually.
The ride over was quite mysterious and eerie, being at night. The streets were very quiet and everyone was on a bicycle. All you could really hear were the warning rings of bicycle bells. What few cars and buses that were out would only flash their headlights to warn cyclists they were coming. It was all quite mysterious and made for an interesting first impression. Last night I didn’t sleep at all! I was just too exhausted and excited. Now going on 48 hours without sleep!