A Monk’s Tale, Re-posted for Difficult times

It is January, 1986. You are sitting on a porch near the meditation hall of a Buddhist monastery on Hong Kong’s outlying island of Lantao. It is February, 1986. Around you are grassy hills, and two islands lie light blue in the distance. It is difficult to imagine anything more peaceful. The man sitting beside you is a Chan [Zen] Buddhist monk, a soft-spoken Englishman with a strong Cockney accent. He is dressed in traditional monk’s garb, a long tunic with Chinese fasteners and baggy trousers pulled tight at the bottom. The sleeves aren’t long enough to cover the heavy Read More

Among the Uighurs in Xinjiang Province

In the spring of 1985, my friend Nichole wrote me, “I’m sitting in the square of this town selling shoes. Hundreds of people have come to look at me. Business is brisk.” When she returned we talked about her trip in my sitting room at Xiamen University. At the time, Nichole was a forty-something student of Chinese who spoke with a French accent.

It was common for foreign students to pack a bag or two and head out on their own, often to the minority areas. The government wanted foreign journalists and tourists to travel as part of a Read More

Escape from China

“Two American Teachers in China, Part 2” is Amy’s story about teaching art to little children at Peking University Experimental School in Jiaxing.  a small city outside of Shanghai. What follows here is the story of her departure from China. In the next post, she gets engaged in Bali and married in Thailand under the most romantic circumstances.

Amy and I talked on Skype while she was in Ohio and I was in the Philippines. Her voice was strained, she was clearly still congested, and she coughed frequently.

 Amy’s story

When we left off, I was talking about moving to … Read More

American Teachers in China, Part 2

Before coming to China, Amy taught for two years at a for-profit language school in South Korea. She returned to the United States, worked at some non-traditional education outfits and taught as an adjunct college professor. She  then went back to school for K-12 teaching certification to supplement her Master’s in Fine Arts. She’s now had a successful first semester teaching at the Peking University Experimental School in Jiaxing, in part because of her online negotiations with the school. She passed relatively swiftly through the difficult stage two of culture shock.

Amy and I talked at my house in the Read More

American Teachers in China, Part 1

In 1984-86 I taught English as a Foreign Expert at Xiamen University on the coast across from Taiwan (Link).In many ways it was a great job, but my starting salary was only about $200 a month with free housing. I heard this was ten times what the lowest-level university teachers were making and twice Deng Xiao Ping’s take-home pay, although I’m sure his perks were a lot better. I had a great time and learned a lot. If the pay had been better I might have stayed on, but I was over forty and needed to start Read More