• Teaching

    A Day in the Life of a Fake Teacher in the Real China

    One day I found myself squealing like a pig in front of children.  I pushed my nose up, grunted, and oinked.  We were playing a simplified version of charades.  It was a Sunday afternoon in the bleak of January.  And this being China, it was bleaker than bleak.  The dean of my university had loaned me out to a private high school as a “favor.” My latest rendition caught the students’ attention.  Girls stopped texting and boys ceased roughhousing long enough to look up and shout “pig!” in unison.  I asked the teacher if they’ve played this game before, adding, “They’re very confident.”  Either the blood of Shakespeare coursed through…

  • Traveling

    Happiness is a Vampire

    Every day I discover other worlds so unlike the one I once called home.  The possibilities seem boundless.  I even fantasize about coming to America to become a Wal Mart door greeter or an assistant manager at McDonald’s.  If I work hard for a couple years and save money, then I could return to paradise and buy a home and still have enough left over to start a business. Sometimes when I hang out with other expats we cannot stop saying, “I can’t believe this,” and we pinch ourselves to see if we are in a dream.  It is as if we all had met Morpheus in our pre-expat lives…

  • Teaching

    Goodbye Year of the Ox

    Since I only teach three days a week, and spend most of my time studying, reading, blogging and sheltering from the cold, wintry rain it is easy to forget where I am.  A quick jaunt about the campus quickly reminds me that I’m not in Pennsylvania anymore. Just beyond the dingy metropolis, my university was nestled at the feet of a jagged, tent-like mountain, green with bamboo, shrubbery, and leafy sword blade foliage.  Students roamed the campus in packs on their way to classes, parties, or speeches.  Every day at lunch and dinnertime a campus wide loudspeaker system blares out happy-go-lucky pop music, advertisements and announcements in Chinese as well…

  • Traveling

    Perspectives on China

    November was nearly over here in the heartland of China.  The days alternated between short manic bursts of sunny, blue skies and  longer periods of sunless, chilly days full of drizzle and melancholy.  It was weather most conducive  to studying Mandarin, writing for my own site, and reading other people’s blogs.  One of my favorite China blogs was Matt Schiavenza’s A China Journal.  The Kunming-based blogger brought my attention to the Folger Shakespeare Library’s podcast on Perspectives on China in which two correspondants and an author discuss their “boots-on-ground” perspective on the rise of New China in an informal panel.  The moderator asked them to describe their first impressions, especially…

  • Teaching

    It's Gettin' Hot in Here (So Hot)

    “Wow, you ah sooo stro-ooong.”  The tone of his voice turned each of the last two words into something bisyllabic.   The student had been scoping me out.  This is what it feels like to be a zoo animal or a celebrity in America, and just an ordinary foreigner in Chenzhou, China. My job was to be a teacher.  But I was also working off the clock as a professional foreigner. I was in the university gym and recreation center.  It was below freezing outside and Crazy English Mountain was dusted with snow.  There were no heaters in the school, and you could see your breath in the air.  I had…

  • Traveling

    Bear Fighting in Cyberspace

    Some have wondered if I will one day practice medicine in China.  During an interview at Rocky Mountain College, home of the Battlin’ Bears, the director had even suggested that I could do a clinical rotation here.  The thought had occurred to me many times.  Many friends and fellow Bull Dogs from Yale University’s PA program completed international rotations in Latin America, South East Asia, and the Middle East.  Yale even has a tropical medicine rotation in Kampala, Uganda.  This feature was one of the major draws that lured me into their program back in 2007.  In any case, I believe my international experience – of which my time in…