The Learning Curve

The Learning Curve

The month of October ushered in cooler weather and the start of the new academic year. It also brought a new set of tests on the subject of learning to live and work the Hangzhou way.  Here’s a look at the hi lights of the month.

Chinese Language Instructor Jack, teaching my colleagues and me, October 19, 2017
Chinese language–fascinating stuff, October 19, 2017

In China, the fall semester usually starts one week before the weeklong National Day and Autumn Festival. This year was no different. I was happy to meet my students before the break—all 54 of them! Academic English (AE) is an exciting and crucial subject for my Business (Computer and Graphic Design) students. Weekly lectures can vary from analyzing reports and quantifying expressions to writing papers about solutions to climate change and using perfect tenses. While the weekly assignments are proving quite a challenge for these college Freshman, our interaction is the first contact many of these students have ever had with a foreigner. It’s great to know that this program will help prepare them for university life abroad in just two short years.

First day of class, September 25, 2017

This semester’s Chinese Faculty English Course is also off to a great start.  It has been a couple of years since I had the opportunity to work with older adults.  As Adult Education is my primary interest, instructing Chinese professors in Communicative English has been a refreshing way to end the work week.

First day of the Chinese Faculty English Course. These professors work at the university teaching majors such as Accounting, City Planning, and Journalism, to name a few. October 27, 2017

As previously mentioned, National Day is one of China’s biggest festivals of the year. Held on October 1 every year, it commemorates the formation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Weeklong celebrations include marches throughout the country, time spent with family and friends, and delicious moon cakes. I was fortunate enough to be invited to one of my former students’ home for the festivities. A two hour bus ride South of Hangzhou found me in the sleepy city of Xin an Jiang. There, at the city bus station, I was met by my Ivy, her mom, and cousins. We had a nice lunch at her grandparents’ home, had a rest at her parents’ house, and then took a walk around the city. After just a few hours, it was time for me to board the bus again and head home. It was great to spend time with my Ivy, her family, and learn more about Chinese family life.

Traditional foods of Zhejiang Province, October 3, 2017
Ivy playing the piano. Reminds me of my old high school days, when I would play the piano for my parents’ guests! October 3, 2017
Walking about the lake with Ivy and her cousins, October 3, 2017
Mooncakes, fruit, and other yummy holiday gifts from Ivy’s family, October 3, 2017

October also brought big changes for my local Rotary Club, the Hangzhou Rotary Club. It’s all hands on deck as most of us are taking on new responsibilities and leadership positions to build our local organization into a vibrant and thriving club. As the running joke goes, some of us were volunteered for the positions we have volunteered for! I am excited about my new role as Treasurer and a member of the Board of Directors. While being Treasurer is a great responsibility (my first choice would have been in the realm of Community Service Chair!), I have a good team of qualified and seasoned folks to give me good advice about the position. And at the Rotary China East meeting this past weekend, all of us learned that there are lots of Rotarians across China doing great work. We are only a fourth of the way through the Rotary year, so there are some good things to happen yet.

Rotary Club of Hangzhou members (from left to right) Incoming President, James Zhou, International Service Chair, Anna Bayarasaikhan, Treasurer, me, Secretary, Hasitha Warusawitharana, President, Tim Darby, and potential member, Elena Salsera, October 28, 2017

Between Rotary, and roles of teacher and student, this has definitely been a month of learning new things.  While Hangzhou has been throwing a lot of curve balls my way, so far, I’ve been able to catch them.  This wraps up the October snapshot. Next month, I’ll continue a discussion of life in HZ and a little getaway to Shanghai!

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