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In the Land of Confucius

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S: In the Land of Confucius

FC: In the Land of Confucius Teaching English in Qufu, China 2009 to 2010

1: My name is Alison Lentz and this is a book about my first year living in Qufu, China. I arrived in the fall of 2009, sent by a non-profit American organization to teach English to Chinese university students. I was assigned to teach spoken English to freshmen and composition and movies to juniors. I lived on campus in foreign teacher housing. When not teaching or doing activities with students, I explored the campus and the city on my bike. Qufu is a special place, filled with Confucian culture, dirty restaurants, friendly people, and quietly chaotic streets. Villages and farms surround the city. All in all, it was a delightful year.

2: Team Qufu: Lisa, Tarah, and Alison

3: Arrival: We took the night train from Beijing to Qufu's tiny train station.

4: Foreign teacher apartment | East market chicken vendor | East market fruit vendor | Confucius tourism | FIRST IMPRESSIONS

5: I spent the first week getting acquainted with the campus. The school assigned us our classes on a Friday, and we started teaching on Monday.

6: Painting the side of a building at the beginning of the school year | On the West playground's exercise equipment | Exploring the countryside | Grandmas and toddlers on campus | SEPTEMBER

7: Students competed in a song competition for the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China.

8: Riding through the countryside at corn harvest time

10: Our planned week-long October holiday was unexpectedly extended due to concerns about the swine flu. I took three days of the holiday to visit a freshman student in Qingdao, a coastal city five hours east. | SEPTEMBER | SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER | SEPTEMBER

11: On my visit to Qingdao, I met Angela's parents, cousins, and grandparents. We watched the big 60th anniversary parade on TV. We celebrated Mid-Autumn Festival with huge meals, lots of seafood, and moon-cakes. On a day trip to Qingdao's downtown, we saw lively wedding photo sessions in the park, and visited an aquarium. I was even interviewed for a TV program, just for being a foreigner.

12: "He holds her hand,She holds his heart."

13: Scenes from the Confucius forest, temple, and mansion.

14: In Beijing with Elizabeth, I got to eat good food, stay at a nice hotel, do some shopping at Wangfujing and IKEA, and visit the Great Wall at Badaling. I also re-visited my least favorite place in China: the Beijing Railway Station. | October also brought me to Beijing to visit some friends from grad school who were on a short visit to volunteer with local speech and hearing services.

16: (Opposite page) Activities with students and team were always a part of daily life in Qufu. | We planned a Thankgiving culture activity for all the juniors. They watched a skit about using their gifts, gave apples to people they were thankful for, and created classroom decorations about their blessings.


20: A rare snowy day

21: We spent Thanksgiving with teacher friends in Rizhao, another coastal city. We were excited to eat turkey, and I was excited to be with a large group of good friends for the first time since summer.

22: Daily life, from top left: First Chinese haircut, friend Jessie, students walking, candied hawthorn seller, student superhero skits, Chinese tutor | DECEMBER

23: The Fair Ladies Club, an association for English majors, put on a Christmas party. We learned that "party" in China really means performance.

24: Student Activity: Progressive Christmas Party | Students sang Christmas carols with Tarah, heard the Christmas story from Lisa, and exchanged gifts with me. We had hundreds of students move through our apartments on the two Saturdays we had this activity.

25: Christmas Eve

26: Christmas morning we had breakfast together and a team gift exchange. For supper, we had a potluck with the other foreign teachers in our building. For New Year's Eve, I invited freshmen to my house for a game night. They stayed until their 10:40 pm curfew.

27: After the holidays, I continued with teaching and student activities. Here, some of my closest student friends demonstrate the guzheng, a traditional Chinese instrument. The semester ended in mid-January. | JANUARY

28: Lantern Festival with friend Helen and her family

29: Easter activities | MARCH

31: One Saturday, Lisa and I explored the countryside by bike. The fields were full of winter wheat. We went through small villages and turned down any road that interested us. After several hours, we began the journey back to Qufu, only to make a wrong turn and end up in Yanzhou, the wrong city altogether. So we lunched in Yanzhou and eventually made it home. | APRIL

34: By springtime, both the flowers outside and my relationships with Chinese students and friends were blossoming.

35: School-wide Sports Meet | MAY

36: Freshmen

37: Food is an exciting part of life in another culture. I learned to say the names of my favorite dishes, like di san xian ("three treasures") and gan bian yun dou (spicy stir-fried beans). These pictures show a riverside barbecue with fellow teachers, street food with students in the East Market, and mi xian (rice noodle soup) with other foreign teachers.

38: Lisa and I invited some students on a long bike trip to Mount Ni, the supposed birthplace of Confucius. We rode for hours, took a short boat ride on the lake, and hiked around on the small mountains. | Biking to Mount Ni

39: Fun times with students

40: A visit from my family

41: Opposite page: Biking in old town, posing by the city wall; making friends in the East Market. This page: Lunch with students, dorm visit, exploring Qufu

42: Wheat harvest in the countryside | JUNE

43: Saying goodbye to classes

44: I left at the beginning of July to return to America for the summer. Blessings continued right up to the end of the year, when I met a girl on the train to Beijing who helped me find my hotel before flying out. I later returned to Qufu to teach for another year.

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  • Title: In the Land of Confucius
  • Teaching English in Qufu, China 2009 to 2010
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  • Published: over 8 years ago