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Mohawk professor reflects on life in China

5 May 2013 No Comment

Mohawk Chemical Engineering professor Greg Emery flew all the way to China for a year to teach. Emery flew to Wuhan, China to teach Chemical Engineering at a school partnering with Mohawk.

“It started out with a massage,” said Emery. “I was looking into my benefits package and I started looking into sabbaticals. My wife was all for taking a sabbatical.”

Shortly after that, Emery, his wife and their two young children packed up and made the great move to China.

As Emery taught in China, his wife and children volunteered at middle schools to help teach English.

“Because of their written language, they are taught to memorize by the age of three,” said Emery.

He said their curriculum is very different from ours in Canada because they have to memorize each character and the meaning of it, whereas in Canada we are taught consonant sounds. Emery said that knowing one character in China does not help you with another.

Emery soon discovered some particular things he was not able to adjust to as a result of culture shock, like spitting.

“You’d be walking down the street and no more than two minutes would go by where you would not hear someone hock up and spit,” said Emery.

Even though spitting was hard for Emery to ignore, he said the air quality was more serious.

“The pollution was unbelievable…If the air quality in Hamilton gets to 50 people get upset. The best day we had in Wuhan, the air quality was about 80 or 100,” said Emery.

Things are not all bad though; Emery shared some fascinating facts about the Chinese curriculum.

“There you never know what the students can do. Every class has a student leader who’s appointed by the university and I’m not really sure of the mechanism on how they report and who they really work for,” said Emery. “There’s forced mandatory military service. You have to do so many weeks of military training as part of their university education.”

Emery shared many memories with his family like visiting The Great Wall of China and a zoo in Chengdu, China that is roughly the size of the Toronto Zoo, filled with nothing but pandas.

Emery said that if he got the opportunity to go back, he would take, but preferably with some online style of learning like eLearn. He could teach online, then go visit for a couple weeks and come back.


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