Saturday, April 30, 2011

An Essay About my Life in Qufu

A student recently asked me to contribute an essay about my life in Qufu to one of the English student publications.

Bye the way, have I announced here on the blog that I am leaving Qufu at the end of this semester?  Due to organizational changes with my teaching company, I am transferring to a different campus of my current university in the seaside city of Rizhao, about three hours away.  Rizhao pronunciation: "err-jow."  Left to my own devices, I would not have moved, but since my organization is leaving Qufu I decided joining a different team would be better in many ways than staying here by myself.

Anyway, I thought some of you might be interested in reading my nostalgic look at two years in Qufu, so I'm posting the essay here in full.  Enjoy!
I first came to Qufu in August 2009.  It was my first time to live and work in China, and I was happy to be coming to a small town instead of a big city.  When I found out I would be coming to Qufu, I looked it up on the Internet and found many pictures and stories from tourists who had visited Qufu to see the famous Confucius sites.  Most of the tourists liked this town, but seemed to think it was not worthwhile to spend more than a day here.  I noticed that the sky looked a little gray in all of their pictures.  I wondered what my life here would be like.

I have now lived in Qufu for almost two years, and it has been one of the happiest times in my life.  There are many things I love about this small town: the ancient city wall, the beautiful April flowers in the Confucius forest, the crowded East Market, and the countryside scenes that I can enjoy while riding my bike.  Before I moved to Qufu, I never saw anyone harvesting wheat by hand or killing a fish by throwing it on the floor!

The best thing about living in Qufu has been getting to know the people here. American-style hospitality is more hands-off than Chinese hospitality; we like to let people “help themselves” and “make themselves at home,” and most people appreciate this.  But here in Qufu, people have always gone out of their way to offer their friendship and help.  I know that if I want someone to help me with a problem, interpret some Chinese for me, or join me for a meal, I can count on my Chinese students and friends.

Now let me say a few words about teaching at Qufu Normal University.  Last year, I taught junior writing, junior video, and freshmen oral English.  This year, I teach junior writing and sophomore oral English.  I think my favorite class to teach is sophomore oral, because I get to teach both content (intercultural communication and public speaking) as well as skill (pronunciation and fluency).  I also like having fun free talks with my students.  Some of my favorite memories with students are playing silly games like Spoons, making meals in my kitchen, and celebrating the holidays together.  Again, the best thing I have gained from teaching here is the opportunity to know such wonderful people.  To my students – thank you for being so eager to learn and so delightful to teach.  One of my writing students once wrote in her journal that she thought “no one could be nicer to their foreign teachers than we are,” and I think she’s right!

Of course it will be sad for me to leave my happy life in Qufu, but I am not going far.  I plan to teach next year in Rizhao, where I am looking forward to the blue sky and the sea breeze.  After that, I will probably return to the United States.  Thanks for the wonderful memories here, and I am looking forward to staying in touch with all of you.

1 comment:

  1. We loved Qufu and meeting your team and students---and we can see why you love it like you do!