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Spring cherry blossom on University campus, Kunming


sibilities. In order to provide samples to guide the level of my teaching, each student wrote a short biography in the first class. Speaking classes followed a similar


theme-based design with introduc- tions, descriptions, poetry recitals, individual research topics leading to a presentation, group presentations and short impromptu speeches form- ing the core. Additional practise was not possible for these students, so they worked for participation marks. In the speaking class at the PhD level, the ten participants were more will- ing to discuss topics although some struggled with pronunciation. Teir final presentation gave me fresh in- sight into the disciplines they were studying, which included how we see in 3-D and the future of solar power, as they presented their research as if they were at a foreign conference. Living in a foreign country is not all about work, of course. I was paid


Kunming horse gate


an adequate salary allowing the two of us to eat out at least once a week, to visit local places of interest and to enjoy Kunming. Te university owned the furnished apartment we lived in and paid the rent and utilities. Fresh fruit, meat and vegetables were readily available at an open-air mar- ket a short walk from the apartment building, and Walmart supplied most of our other needs. Te university also provided bilingual helpers to deal with such activities as the initial registration with the local police, to set up an Inter- net account, to go to the doctor and to ferry us and our luggage back to the air- port at the end of the year. My adviser provided valuable help with discussing expectations in class, with the rules for marks and exams and in providing an- swers to my questions. Te biggest surprise for us was the


level of activity required for daily life. Our apartment was on the fifth floor with no elevators. Older buses only


have a few seats, so most passengers stand for the whole ride. While bicy- cles and electric motorbikes are avail- able at reasonable prices, we felt safer walking, often covering several kilome- tres a day. It is considered bad manners to offer to help anyone who is struggling with heavy bags or an awkward load, so those wanting to teach in China need to be pretty healthy. One way to ensure a good expe-


rience is to be friendly with visiting scholars here in Canada and to go where they live once you have formed a relationship. Chinese people are much more interested in long term relationships than most Canadians, and it is certainly fun to meet with a local to go for a meal or to an activity. We had a core group of three Chinese friends in or near Kunming. Tis cer- tainly enhanced our day-to-day expe- rience. It is also a great way to learn more about the culture without mak- ing too many mistakes. §


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