Back to School


This may have been the best week I’ve had since I arrived in China in August. It began on Sunday when our department had a short meeting to discuss the important dates for the rest of the semester. The English faculty will hold a workshop with faculty from Sweden in April. Jeremy and I will both give short presentations. Mine will be about MLA. We also have Freshman and Junior student projects to judge in April. In June, our colleague Tim Kingman will organize an art event called Sunset Dawn. I’m looking forward to knowing more about what that entails.

We had a department lunch, and then we went to church with our friend Jado. Our regular priest was back from Germany, and our friend Angie was back from Malaysia. We ran into Professor Wu, the man who gave us our pets, and we told him that they all died. He forgave us, and he mentioned that salamanders often get a fungus this time of year. That made us feel better, and so did his promise to take us to see pandas in the spring.

As we headed back to campus, someone yelled “hey Asher!” We turned around, and JCCC students Mitchell and Tony stepped out of a restaurant. They had both recently returned from traveling around various parts of Asia. We ended up eating some of the best Halal food I’ve ever had.

Monday I worked on writing my syllabus for Sophomore Writing. Then on Monday evening I took a cab all by myself to my friend Mireia’s house for a clothing exchange. I think it may have been the most fun I’ve had with other women since I’ve been in China. We all brought clothes we didn’t want anymore. Mireia had clothes left from the last time she had organized such an event. We ate snacks and shared stories, and we also exchanged movies. I got a copy of Fences that I am looking forward to watching.

Tuesday it snowed. Despite this, we walked to the old campus to make photocopies and go to the bank. Our friend, Big Tiger, chatted with us at the coffee stand. We went back to the halal restaurant from Sunday for another round of amazing food. Then we went out for Turkish food with Mitchell, Tony, and Jabron. We realized the some of the malaise we felt in the winter break was because most of the people from the Old Campus left for the holiday. It was so nice to have everyone back, and all our favorite places open again.

Wednesday I started teaching. I forgot that I love both of my Sophomore Writing classes. We started the semester by watching Rives’ TED Talk, Reinventing the Encyclopedia Game. Then we played the game ourselves and practiced quoting and MLA documentation at the same time. My students focused for the whole class period, and they all used their phones for good (looking up information) and not for evil (sharing silly photos).

Thursday I finished reading Jaguar Smile by Salmon Rushdie. I had a meeting with someone who wants to create an online English course for graduate students. She wants me to help her make video lectures on topics from John Langan’s developmental writing textbook. We capped the day off by attending a first birthday party for our friend Noah’s baby. This week we returned to our routine, and we spent time with friends. It was a good week.


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