Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Half Way Around the World: From Beijing to Vermont and Back

After a 23-hour travel from our house in Shangdi, Beijing, to Burlington, Vermont, via Chicago, I arrived at St. Michael’s College ( on June 21 for the 6-week summer course in MA TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).

Being in Vermont where the surrounding is green and the air clean made me feel quite different after having been used to the pollution and dust and noise in Beijing, not to mention my being a student again. I took an online course last spring, so this time I met my Greek and US classmates and German teacher in person. There were also Greek, Korean, Taiwanese and Middle Eastern teachers for MATESOL and Diploma program. Many Japanese and Korean students and a number of Colombians were also at SMC for the intensive English course.

I really needed some time to get adjusted to the life of a student, with nothing to do but eat, go to class, and study, while also adjusting to the 12-hour time difference, where having lunch felt more like having a midnight snack. I also met the priests of the Society of St. Edmund’s, a French congregation that owns and manages SMC. The SSE priests had been very hospitable in welcoming me to their community and to their daily mass in the morning, and being with them somehow made me feel that I was not alone even as I was missing living in a Claretian community.

The six weeks that followed had been quite intensive, but I was fortunate to have studied with two great professors, and a very supportive Practicum instructor. Many of my classmates, who themselves were professional teachers, had been complaining about our workload, which for me was quite reasonable, given the time constraint a six-week summer. I also felt bored and homesick for Beijing at times, but I had to go on studying for our ministry in China.
The summer course ended on August 4 and, finally, I returned to Beijing on August 6.

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