Sunday, August 17, 2008

Done (or is it finished?)

The big day finally arrived. We finished our course of instruction. We even received a certificate noting the 100 hours of instruction we received in Chinese history, language and culture. Our minds are on overload, but our spirits are high. We are anxious to be on our way. We will have a week back in Virginia to decompress, retool, and repack before climbing back on an airplane for our 16-plus-hour flight to Beijing and then on to Xi’an.

We have been preparing for this adventure for almost a year now. We remember fondly having dinner with a couple of BYU China Teachers Program (CTP) instructors last year in Beijing (due to the kindness of Mac and Janet Coleman) when this idea was first hatched. Since then we have sold our home and moved into a smaller one (thereby requiring less maintenance). In the process, we have divested ourselves of half our possessions. We have spent hours on the phone with former CTP teachers finding out what was involved. After all this, we’re ready.

In addition to the Chinese and teaching lessons, one of the joys of this experience has been the people with whom we have had the pleasure of associating. These are some of the best people we have ever known. Most are retired professionals who have raised large families and are now on their way to do a little more good in the world. After all these hours in one another’s company we have bonded more than you would think possible. We have delivered practice lessons to one another and sat in discussion groups together. Most are amazingly talented and will do a great job for their Chinese students. We feel privileged to be in their company. We feel a little sad to see the group break up as we go to our separate universities, but we will see each other in Hong Kong in January when we reconvene for more training, and we are already looking forward to it.

2008-2009 China Teachers

However, there is a little group of us that will remain together because we all will be going to Xi’an. Ross and Edith Brown will be with us at Xi’an International Studies University (XISU), and Roger and Linda Terry along with Ronald and Diane Kimball will be nearby at Northwestern Polytechnic University. And there will be other BYU CTP returnees whom we have not met. So we will be in good company. Wish us God’s speed.

Xi'an China Teacher: (left to right) Brown, Terrys, Kimballs, and Ortons

Saturday, August 9, 2008

In training

Steve and Elva are about to embark on another great adventure: we’re going to China to teach English in a Chinese university. Our destination is the Xi’an International Studies University in Xi’an, China, or XISU as it is known. This is a program sponsored by the Kennedy Center for International Studies at Brigham Young University. We are very excited about this opportunity. We have been to China once before as tourists, including Xi’an, and thought a return trip would be great. There are about 80 of us being sponsored by the Kennedy Center, spread across about a dozen universities in China. All of us are retired empty-nesters looking for a way to serve others while having a little adventure of own.

But first a little training. Right now we are at the Kennedy Center in a crash course of Chinese history, customs, language and teaching methods. Our brains are full and our fannies have turned to cast iron as the results of training sessions that last from 8:00 in the morning to 9:00 at night. And we are only half way through.

We’ll return to Virginia for about a week before finally jetting off to Beijing and Xi’an on August 26th. Check in on this blog from time to time and we’ll keep you updated.