It has been a few days since my last report! If you want to teach English overseas, or are a college student and want to study overseas, you should strongly consider Sias University in Zhengzhou (pronounced Jen Jo), China. The President of the University, Dr. Shawn Chen, has created an amazing international, global village. Part of the campus is designed to look like European countries; buildings resemble the architecture in Italy, Switzerland, Russia. Shops are on the first floor and dorm rooms on the floor above. There is a dorm for the English speaking families.
The main administrative building looks like a formal Chinese building from the front. The back half looks like the House of Congress in Washington, DC! Dr. Chen’s vision is East meets West; you can’t miss the symbolism of this building. The grounds are extensive and the second phase is under construction. There’s an Olympic size swimming pool, numerous indoor and outdoor basketball courts and tennis courts. We were impressed by the performance of the Lula Washington Dance Troupe from LA. They performed in a fabulous outdoor performance theater.
We stayed in the Sias Hotel which is drenched in marble. We had a living room, bedroom and bathroom. The technical differences from America present funny situations! The hair dryer died on the first day. The second day I plugged it into the 220 slot, instead of the 110 slot and it worked just fine! They don’t offer as many plugs as we’re used to in the US, but the staff worked hard to meet our needs.
There were lots of people there for Homecoming and Commencement ceremonies. Ft. Hayes University has partnered with Sias for many years and had a large delegation there to help confer joint degrees. The Lula Washington troupe numbered over 20 with the dances, band and crew. The Board of Directors for the Sias University Foundation were there. Each family had their own guide; ours was the lovely Iris. She’s a sophomore and works in Dr. Chen’s office. We had fun teaching each other additional English and Chinese words!
Sias University extended an opportunity for me to deliver a talk to the students; a group of sophomores. They have many classes taught by English professors and can listen and speak very well. Iris had created a PowerPoint presentation to introduce me – it looked great in Chinese characters! The students asked many questions, most of which I think I was able to understand and answer fairly clearly. If I missed anything, they were too polite to say so…
We were treated to several banquets, 3 of which were American food. It was almost strange to eat it after 2 weeks of a steady diet of Chinese food! The last banquet is most certainly worth telling you about in detail! The University has several houses along a river that are used for guests. Our final banquet was held in one of these – the most grand of them all! It’s a 3 story mansion where you enter on the middle floor. It’s a sea of beautiful marble. To the right are 2 seating areas that can hold at least 20 people. To the left is a dining table to seat at least 20 people! Straight ahead is leads to a balcony overlooking a small stage on the floor below. The basement is the entertainment center: a theater to seat at least 20, the stage with a karaoke machine, a pool table/ping pong/exercise room to the right. The upstairs floor has 4 guest suites; 2 Eastern style, 2 Western style. Each room has its’ own bathroom and large closets! The master suite is stunning. Two bathrooms – one ‘normal’ and the other with a sauna and an 8 foot diameter tub. There’s separate office and massage room too!
And before I forget, Mike gave an impressive and extensive graduation speech. The ceremony was just like a traditional US one, complete with Pomp and Circumstance! The gymnasium was well cooled, which was nice for those of us in the full regalia! It was really great – his folks would be so proud of him – I certainly was! It was this speech that started our whole trip rolling!
After 4 amazing days we had to say goodbye to Sias and Zhengzhou. It was the end of our 12 days in China. We are off to South Korea!