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Class of 2011

Presenting the class of 2011

JISHOU, HUNAN — The students pictured above are the third group I’ve seen graduate from Jishou University, and the graduates I have spent the most time with. So, it’s with a little sadness that I will see them leave here in a few days.

They were among the first students I taught at JiDa. I taught them for two years, and of course have known all of them for three. Several are among my best friends here. You may recognize some faces from my Picasaweb and Facebook albums, since we’ve shared a lot of good times together.

Their major is English education (a three-year, non-baccalaureate program), and many have already found work teaching in schools or training centers in Changsha, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhejiang and Fujian. A few will continue their studies to get a full bachelor’s degree in another two years. Others have found work outside education. And, of course, a few are still looking for jobs.

You may remember my saying that teaching at a Chinese university is a bit like teaching in an American high school. The students above represent two groups, Z1 and Z2, who are like class sections in the US. In other words, Z1 students (and similarly Z2 students) have attended all their classes together as a group for the last three years. They have also had roommates from their own groups, or at least from the same college. So, this constant contact builds a strong sense of solidarity and camaraderie.

It also means their teachers get to know them much better than I suspect American professors can their classes. I am proud to say I know all of their English names and a fair number of their Chinese names, and can even tell you some of their hometowns.

In all, I have seen 27 groups of my students graduate, and of course all four of my kids graduate. It’s been a bittersweet moment each time, because as a teacher you’re happy they are ready to start the next phase of their lives, but as a friend and companion (and father), you’re sorry to see them go.

Anyway, I present to you the Class of 2011, College of International Exchange, Jishou University. May they be happy every day!