Goucher students visited XISU as part of their “China: Past, Present, & Future” Intensive Course Abroad on Friday, May 31.
This is the same ICA that I went on in 2007. My first year teaching in Xi’an, another group led by Steve & Michael (same professors from my own trip), also visited XISU. I felt that my portion of the day, a lecture and Q&A with the students, was more successful than the first time around.
The day began just like any other Friday. I had my Intercultural Communication classes as usual. My first class, Class 2, were required to give informal reports about their perceptions of a country, culture, or ethnicity they had chosen at random the week before. The assignment asked them to prepare their perceptions, stereotypes, or generalizations before and after research. Some of them also discussed how to manage culture shock if traveling to said country or meeting with said people from said culture or ethnic background.
I asked for half of the class to volunteer and was glad they were eager to partake. My intention was to wrap up class on the early side so that I could be at the library awaiting Steve, Michael, and the Goucher students.
They were slated to arrive around 10 a.m. I had prepared around a dozen of my IC students from Class 1 to meet the Goucher students with me. I, of course, was running late and arrived at the library to find that all Goucher-associated personnel had already arrived and were patiently awaiting my arrival.
We all headed back to the multimedia classroom located in the new SD computer lab building. My intention was to give my IC Class 1 students the opportunity to pick the Goucher students’ brains as well as practice IC. This plan went off without a hitch. As my IC students were required to participate in another organized activity later in the day, I had selected around 20 former students to take the Goucher students to lunch, my students’ dorm, and to dinner.
After around an hour and a half of conversation in the classroom, my IC Class 1 students and the Goucher students had to part ways. Not only was there a whole lot of picture taking, and email exchanging, two of my students and two Goucher students sang as a welcoming-of-sorts and a thank-you-of-sorts respectively. My former students began to arrive and they all headed over to the canteen for lunch.
During the entire portion of the program, Steve, Michael, & I were playing catch up. We talked about how I’ve gradually become a China news junkie; Michael and I discovered that we subscribe to the same newsletter written by a well-known Beijing expat as well as realizing I follow Sue’s, his wife, Tumblr blog; and my relationship was briefly mentioned in addition to my class schedule, lesson plans, extracurriculars, and grad school plans.
After all my students had cleared out, we headed to the Students’ Activity Center for lunch. It wasn’t anything spectacular, but we exchanged pleasant conversation about the trip itinerary, the Goucher students, my students, the going ons and happenings at Goucher, and covered other topics of mutual interest (mostly China-related news).
2 p.m. quickly approached and the lecture portion of the day begun. There was a slight hiccup with the use of the room earlier in the day, but I was able to contact Jonathan, my supervisor, and iron out any existing problems.
Yang 老师, a professor from the Tourism school, gave a lecture first about Xi’an, it’s history and culture. She was a very engaging speaker and to an extent I was relieved that Mr. Wu was on an official visit to Turkey and thus unable to present the lecture, as he did 2 years ago. She contacted me the day before to clarify when and where the lecture would take place. Unbeknownst to me, she knew who I was, and upon meeting just prior to the our lectures, I realized that I was also familiar with her. She said she didn’t tell me exactly who she was as she wanted to add an element of surprise.
I followed Yang 老师’s lecture. I guess the title of my lecture would best be summarized as “Living & Working in Xi’an.” I think that doesn’t express nearly everything I went on for an hour and a half about. I was considerably lucky because Jason came to take pictures and he even managed to capture some of my lecture on video.
I mainly discussed how Goucher fits into the equation, my work life in China, my life outside of the classroom, why I’ve stuck around for 3 years (adding in lots of elements about media and journalism here), what I have gained or learned, future plans, and finally urged the Goucher students to consider at least 1 year of living/working/studying in China (again, I added some elements about why we Generation “Me[s]” need to not just be paying attention to China, but rather experience China first-hand).
After wrapping up what turned out to be a painstakingly long lecture, particularly for the Goucher students, whom had only arrived in China the day before, I answered a few questions. These students were far more inquisitive than the previous ones.
The first question related to my personal safety as a single woman. Perhaps I answered too honestly as I admitted feeling very safe. I compared coming home late at night in my early days of Xi’an to walking around NYC late at night. I said I would never dare to do the latter. The student who asked seemed rather floored by my answer.
Another student asked me about how I had gotten the job at XISU. I ended that anecdote with explaining the 关系 and limited contact way that I received my position was, and still is, quintessentially Chinese.
Steve & Michael pegged the aforementioned student as the one student that was likely to return as I had. At dinner, which consisted of hulu chicken, a speciality only found near the new campus, Steve & Michael made some interesting revelations. They both said that they had placed bets in each year’s pre-departure course about which student(s) were most likely to return to China. Apparently, unbeknownst to me, they said that the 2007 ICA, they pegged me as the one student. They added that they didn’t necessarily foresee me staying for 3 years.
They also said that they were pleased to see that I had a direction or vision for the next couple of years, and that grad school aligned itself in my horizon. They met Jason earlier in the afternoon and were very complimentary of him as well as impressed that we have been together for so long.
Dinner culminated and we headed back to the library, the planned meeting area. Michael & Steve along with Lucky, the national tour guide and a long-time friend of Steve’s, and the local tour guide, all agreed to give me a lift home.
I ended up going downtown to see Jason so I could fill him in immediately about the rest of my day. It was certainly worth all the exhaustive planning, arranging of students; contacting Mr. Wu, the Foreign Affairs Office, and my own department for assistance.