Giving back to my China family

I have been so impressed (and humbled) by the graciousness of the Chinese people in dealing with me as a speaker of English only. Today, I had the unusual opportunity to give back. At the train station in Xi’an, a Chinese gentleman approached me to ask if I was riding the same train as he. I told him that it was running late. Sensing, apparently, a friendly face (moi?), he asked me with his pretty decent English if I would read his son’s college application. I thought, why not? It turns out his son is entering the Master’s program in engineering at Ohio State, and wanted to know if his writing in English was good enough for one of his applications. How this man would know that I was a professor who knew something about writing was beyond me. Actually, I’m sure he didn’t. The application wasn’t bad, but had some of the usual comma splices and inappropriate word choices one might find with someone still struggling to learn our language. I made some suggestions that made it much stronger. He was so extremely grateful; I wondered if he had any clue how lucky he was to stumble upon our group!

While waiting for an elevator last week in Dalian with Wilson and Zubair, I met a student who will be coming to Benedictine in the Fall, and taking one of our courses in Communications. She spoke just a smattering of English, and after my experiences in China, I found myself quite sympathetic to her task. She is so brave to study in our country when her mastery of the language is not nearly complete. I vowed to help her in any way I could. And then today, what a thrill to actually help a Chinese man in need of my meager talents, to give back what I have received in this country.

Peter Seely

Sent from my iPad


1 Response to “Giving back to my China family”

  1. 1 Martin Tracey
    May 27, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    Humble, kind, generous and appreciative. Your post should be required reading for all faculty who work with students for whom English is a second language!

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