Monday, August 20, 2012

Ann and Paul are off to China

Ann and Paul are off to China.
Our children have convinced us to join the 21st century and blog about our experiences in China. Here goes. We have just returned from two weeks of training in Provo with 76 others to be part of the 2012-2013 BYU China Teachers Program. We will be professors in the English Department of Northwestern Polytechnical University (NPU) in Xi'an, China.

Here is how we got involved
Every so often the LDS church publishes the “Senior Missionary Opportunities Bulletin.” Normally its last item is listed as:

Misc.: Non-Missionary Assignments
“The China Teachers Program (CTP) is a nonprofit, outreach program of the David M Kennedy Center for International Studies at Brigham Young University, established in 1989 to provide… American teachers to selected outstanding Chinese Universities… Our teachers are educators and professionals who bring the wisdom and experience of their successful careers to their classes. Typical assignments are for one academic year…”

We first noticed this opportunity years ago and it resonated with us. Slowly, gently, it has seemed to be the place and activity the Lord wants us to be involved with at this time. We formally began last fall with interviews with our Bishop and Stake President, medical exams, and then our applications were submitted to the program through BYU. We were accepted and our applications were forwarded to Northwestern Polytechnical University in Xi'an China. They accepted us and gave us our specific teaching assignments. We have been in Provo for two weeks of training. Now we are about to fly to Xi'an and the adventure really ratchets up.

Xi’an, People's Republic of China
According to Wikipedia, Xi'an is one of the great ancient capitals of China, the eastern end of the Silk Road (even though it is in central China, very distant from the more populated east coast), and home to the Terracotta Army (built and buried there by an emperor when Xi'an was the Chinese capital). It has about 8 million people.

What we will be doing
We have heard our service referred to as “Lifestyle Service” where not only do our “actions speak louder than words” but our actions will, in many cases, be our only words. This is not the traditional "teaching English" (ESL). As professors, Ann will be teaching sections of English Pronunciation to freshmen, Oral English to sophomores, American History to sophomores, and American Movies to seniors. Paul will be teaching sections of Intermediate Writing to sophomores, Public Speaking to seniors, and Introduction to Business to seniors.

Northwestern Polytechnical University
Again from Wikipedia, NPU is one of China’s top engineering schools. The emphasis is on research in aeronautical, astronautical, and marine engineering. It is a large university and has two campuses. The main campus is large and located just southwest of the old walled city in central Xi'an. We will be living there, on campus, in an apartment provided by the university. We will take a 50 minute bus ride every day to the larger, newer campus further out in the suburbs where we will teach our classes.

The week of August 19th
We sold our house a year ago specifically to get ready for this season of our life. Back from training now, we are almost packed up both to put everything in storage as well as to fill our suitcases for the next year. We are also trying to find more time to dig into lesson plans and review the "survival Chinese" we studied in training. Our flight leaves this Saturday and arrives in Xi'an next Monday.

This is the group assigned to Xi'an
The China Teachers Program has assigned 12 of us to 3 different universities in Xi'an. One of the couples was not at training since they are teaching for a second year. You notice Karla Thompson of the Plymouth Ward? She is not at our university but is in the same city. We are requested to wear shirts and ties but not white shirts.

This is a photo of all of the 2012-2013 China Teachers
This photo is from our training at BYU the first 2 weeks of August. Some teachers were not there since they are repeating a 2nd year in the program. This is a group with standard "small world" connections everywhere. As you recognize people from your other connections, be sure to let us know.