By Anna Patrick, Editor
Two graduates of West Liberty University (WLU) have returned to the U.S. after spending a year teaching English at Zhejiang Normal University (ZJNU) in Jinhua, China.
Daniel Easton and Liz Kaczor taught English in China for a year after graduating from WLU’s College of Education.
The Director of the International Center for Excellence in Education, Dr. Ann Gaudino, established an alliance with ZJNU during the summer of 2010. Gaudino traveled to the University in June of 2010 to meet with university officials. As they mapped out the alliance between the two schools some criteria were established, and arrangements were made.
As a result of their discussion, it was agreed that ZJNU would send up to 20 of its students to WLU “for as long as both institutions desire,” and in return WLU would send some of its best students to teach English at ZJNU.
English is an important aspect to the Chinese education system; from the kindergarten to college level, students are taught English. Therefore, schools are always in need of native English speakers to teach the language.
Upon returning to the U.S., Gaudino contacted eight recent West Liberty alums to apply for teaching positions at ZJNU. “Dan and Liz responded that they were interested and proceeded with the application,” Gaudino said.
“I have told them all along that they were trailblazers for WLU being the first alums to teach at ZJNU in China.
“I am so proud of them. Administrators and faculty at ZJNU were very pleased with their teaching and, consequently, impressed with WLU. Dan and Liz have truly opened the door for future alums and faculty who would like to teach at ZJNU.
“Teaching at ZJNU is a wonderful opportunity to interact with people from around the world, experience Chinese culture and gain unique and valuable teaching experience.”
Easton said when Gaudino contacted him about the job, “she said ‘I have an opportunity for you to teach in China with a partner school.’ She said ‘Would you be interested’ and I said ‘yes’.”
By the end of June the contracts were completed, and Easton and Kaczor had two months to prepare for their journey. Easton said when he arrived in China his Chinese was poor because had a short period of time to learn the vastly different language, but through time spent there he was able to learn enough Chinese to get by.
The two arrived in Jinhua in the middle of August and moved into apartments for teachers at ZJNU.
The first semester began at the beginning of September and lasted until mid January. For the first semester Easton taught 13 English classes for college students at ZJNU and two Kindergarten classes.
During winter break Easton traveled to Yunnan which is located in southern China, close to Vietnam. He said the three-and-a-half week trip was “awesome.”
The second semester began after the Chinese New Year. For Easton, in the second semester he taught 16 English classes at the college level and continued with his two Kindergarten classes.
Easton is a Social Studies Education teacher and said it was a challenge for him to figure out how to not overcomplicate things. He used differentiated instruction to change up his teaching style and keep it interesting for his students.
“My whole goal is to get them to speak, have some fun (and) feel comfortable,” Easton said.
Being a social studies teacher, Easton said “I knew (China) had a lot of history; that’s one reason why I wanted to come here.”
He added, “I love it here. I’d like to come back. If I had the opportunity I would stay longer. It’s definitely made me a better person.
“I’ll come back.”