nature

A Journey to Hengshan Mountain

We took the midnight express back to Chenzhou from Hengshan late Saturday night.  This meant getting dirty.  I once spent four years as a grunt.  Digging foxholes and wading through marshes was dirty work too.  I look back at this previous incarnation with nostalgia as I board a crowded train in which tickets were sold(…)

Understanding Thoreau

In this literature class I help Chinese university students decipher passages in Thoreau’s essay, “Reading,” pointing out that it may take multiple visits to his works — a journey over a span of years — to gain more understanding. I also answer a student’s question into why Thoreau thought reading the classics, preferably in the(…)

Thoreau: His Life and Times

In this literature class I explore Thoreau by delving into his perspective on life and his motivation for choosing a spartan lifestyle, despite having a Harvard education. I am surprised by the brilliance of one Chinese student’s penetrating question about Thoreau — one that I had never heard before. The whole class works on an(…)