For Payton
and Deona


Connecting Mandarin and English,
          Chinese and American,
                    people with people

Routine but Still Unique
(October 18, 2008) (return to Homepage)
     Sometimes is the unknown and the anticipation that is most difficult. We've spent several days reviewing our options regarding Denvy's health including returning to America indefinitely or for a short hospital stay. Fortunately the results of today's visit to the doctor resolved the future, and we are not making any premature trips to America
     Gail too has had some dicomfort in her back, perhaps from the very hard bed and even harder chairs. Perhaps it is a lack of therapy gained from working in the garden and with friends in the community. Perhaps we're also getting older. It is interesting that either of us have ever had such physical challenges before. So our activities have been curtailed and you have not heard from us.
     The students continue to beour strength and reason for being here. They are so wonderful. When we started our classes with only freshmen on the new campus several weeks ago, they asked us about an English Corner on that campus. We encouraged them to organize a time a place and so Friday at 5:00PM, 20 minutes after Denvy's last class there, we walked out into the yard where some 100 students accumulated to informally speak English and ask questions. While they remain rigidly respectful and shy to a fault in the classroom, they are animated and vibrant in the fresh air. Their questions range from naive and repetitive to unique and in depth. They ask us to see and tell stories and because it's a wonderful learning experience, we do it all.
     Since we were downtown to see the doctor today, we decided to walk around a bit, probably one of the first times when we weren't escorted or ushered to the attractions. We picked up some groceries and executed one of the activities that we felt we needed to do at least once in China to say that we did it and so we could answer questions back home. We ate at McDonalds, a couple of grilled chicken, we think. The box had the Chinese character for chicken and basially it tasted like chicken, although it had a Nanchangese hot bite to it. A coke is a coke and the French fries were
actually not a greasy as we get them in America. So there you have it, an experience in a Chinese McDonald, in a nutshell, or perhaps, in a bun.

A note about the lives of Chinese students:
     In our writing classes we ask the students to write something each week. After all it is a writing class. One student told Denvy that we are the first international or foriegn teacher to ever assign homework. She went on to say it is good for us and it shows that you care. I don't know much about the caring, but I know that other international teachers don't have papers, sometimes two a week, for 240 students to read and grade. Perhaps this is a measure of our foolishness.
     However, we have learned so much from these writings-insights into their lives that we would never know. Stories about caring and loving parents. About a mother who was given in an arranged marriage when very young to an older man, was abused and beat before the daughter. About being raised by grandma and finally understanding why father was so strict to the point of being scary.
     For you, the reader, these are impersonal of a couple of the 1.3 billion Chinese in this overpopulated country. To us, they are our children and it brings us to tears, both for the joys and saddness. The idea of leaving them prematurely was devastating.
     An observation we've made at this university, which is not one of the top university in the country or even the city, the students here are the ones whose examinations didn't allow them to get into the better universities. Many come from the families of farmers and live in farm villages. Their finances are also typically very poor. And they have brothers and sisters which is almost unheard of among the international Chinese students at WOU. Also most of the students at WOU come from families where the parents lived in the cities and had good jobs and positions. These students at JSTU so badly need the extra support, and so strongly desire it.

     Back to reading papers and discovering the personal lives of our future leaders in the world.

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