Eric Wergeland - Peace Corps China

5 February 2001

I, happily, finished my first semester teaching before the new year came. My Christmas and New Years were fantastic and always new and exciting. My teaching was fun, I taught air and water pollution, conservation biology, and some environmental ethics and philosophy. Next term I plan to start teaching some exciting forestry and land use (I'm looking forward to it!).

I just returned last week from three weeks of traveling in North Western Yunnan Province, in a wonderful Mediterranean Climate of plenty of sun and no clounds, a big change from where I am now, more reminiscent of U.P. clouds. I also spent a great week with my Chinese host family seeing all of the inner workings of the Chinese new year and my second family.

My language skills are a little lacking, my time was spent more on lesson plans, but I hope to boost my Chinese next term with some hard studying.

4 February 2002

Last summer I had the great luck to go with the Geography Sophomores on a field trip to a northern suburb of Chong Qing City. It was a one-week class on National Geography. I was more of a guest then a participant, and all sessions were in Chinese. But I was able to live with my students for 7 days. I bathed, washed my clothes, ate, and walked around, everything I did as one of them. I knew a fragment of them from my classes, but after the trip I had talked with nearly all of them. Strangers to familiar faces, it was quite a trip.

We as PCV's are all required to do a summer project, so I began mine last summer, and today I will finally tie up all of the loose ends. I collected resources for my school; this includes textbooks, papers, posters, activities, software, and magazines. I managed to collect almost 30 textbooks and received 6 packages from the BLM, USGS, and my MNDNR. I'm still trying to use all of the resources in my classes if possible or share them with my Departments (spend enough time in China and your English skills diminish).

This school year I have continued to teach Biology Graduate students, teaching them Conservation Biology and Natural Resource Management. The Geography, Chemistry, and Biology departments continue to wrestle for my other classes and time. Other classes I taught were about forestry, soil, water pollution, and sustainable agriculture.

Ramy (the other PCV with me) and I are planning a bigger and better Earth Day celebration this year. We need to get going quickly, but I have confidence in our departments, which will be cooperative with the plan for Earth Day events.

But in the wake of terror and hate, being here is more critical for our influence as peacemakers and cultural understanding. The U.S. is much misunderstood here as it is misunderstood around the world. China too, is far (even grossly) misunderstood in the States.

I now will be going to spend Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) with my Chinese host family (from my training period) and my host father's entire side of the family. Spring Festival is equivalent to our Christmas, so it is a sight to behold. The family unit is still alive and kicking in China.

Page created: 5 Febraury 2001.

Most recent update: 22 July 2002.

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