August brought on the start of fall and my first summer job in China. With the cooler weather came a wonderful experience deep in the mountainous area of Zhejiang Province. Here’s a look at the adventure.
Wenzhou (WZ) is a bustling, mountainous region about three hours south of Hangzhou (HZ). The close proximity to my city made getting there relatively easy. The university I taught at is tucked away in the rural area of the WZ. You would never think that this Chinese-American university would be located deep in a secluded valley of Eastern China. At the Wenzhou South Train Station I never caught glimpse of a foreigner. But as soon as I arrived at the university, I nearly felt like I was back in America. Flaunting all things American, this university was designed by an American architect. There was faculty from many parts of the world, and it was quite refreshing to see so many Western faces.
My colleagues and I worked for three hours each morning to deliver an intensive English preparation course to the students. In the afternoons, they enjoyed supplemental activities. Being a communicative-based program, the students were able to get a lot of practice in colloquial American speech. It was easy to find the overachievers in class as they were always asking for more work! Additionally, the other instructors were also a pleasure to work with. Their ideas on delivery of the activities and concepts were fruitful and we all benefited from lively conversation at lunchtime and nights out.
My students were top notch and very serious about their English studies. Desiring to continue their studies in America, most of them are nearly fluent already. Most of my students hailed from different parts of China, such as Sichuan Province, Wenzhou, and even Hangzhou. I was very impressed with their generosity, outgoing attitudes, and willingness to learn.
Perhaps the highlight of my trip to Wenzhou was meeting a student who is also Christian. As she is also from Hangzhou, we were able to have some great discussions about the Chinese ‘heaven on earth’ (Hangzhou) and growing up in Christian families. We attended a local church together and met some really nice people. It’s good to know that now, my student at least has a church to visit for her time at university. It is never easy to talk with my students about Christianity, let alone people in general. But it was my hope and prayer to speak with some of my students about their faith and beliefs. So to come across a student who came from a Christian home in China was an unexpected and pleasant surprise. Definitely a highlight of my trip.
The two and a half weeks in Wenzhou seemed to fly by. It’s great to know that I have Shanghai at my ‘front door’ and the Chinese-American university in my ‘backyard’, (Wenzhou). My time there reassured me once again that my move to the Eastern coast was a good one.
This wraps up August’s adventure. Next month, I’ll discuss my last summer vacation before the start of school—my trip to Italy!