Tuesday, June 07, 2005

School Spirit

Originally uploaded by billmcgonigle.
I started my Chinese classes today. Its amazing how much a teacher (or department) can influence your interest in a subject. My four years studying Chinese at Andover were great: I loved learning the language, I was willing to put the effort in that was needed, I participated in class, and I even became the president of the Chinese Club (along with Mr. Max Sung, wherever he is).

Then I got to Georgetown. Ugh. The Chinese department there was a total oriental trainwreck. I had one teacher there in all four years who made any sense, one teacher who inspired me. He was white, and understood where I, one of the lone whiteys studying the language, was coming from. He eventually quit because the rest of the department drove him crazy with their insanity.

But now I'm on my own, working one on one with a tutor for 6 hours a week. She's a grad student studying to be a Chinese teacher and she doesnt know too much English. But I didn't want my teacher to know much English, I only want to speak Chinese in class, and that is all we do. She gives me homework and quizzes, and I've been happily studying all afternoon.

I might not need a tutor, I could probably learn on my own, but I appreciate the discipline that only a teacher and a classroom setting can give. Plus its extremely cheap. And I came here to gain fluency before anything else, so now I feel like I'm truly following my higher purpose. And that is fulfilling.

Right up the road from my apartment is Haerbin Gongye Daxue, aka HaGongDa, aka Harbin Institure of Technology, aka HIT. Oddly enough, this is where I lived and studied back in 1997, so its as if I'm back in my old stomping grounds. In a way. Apparently the main building, pictured above, is the spitting image of Moscow U. If there are any Muscovites reading this, I'd be interested in a comparison. Either way, HIT is one of the top universities in China, so telling people I studied there earns a bit of surprise and respect.

I have chili cooking. Hooray!


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