Highlights Of My Seven Years Teaching In China

181
Ken Warren

Story and Photos by Ken Warren (ISN)

August 8, 2013, Victoria, BC (ISN) – Welcome to the 17 article of Ken’s Blog, where historian Ken Warren takes us through some of his childhood memories, sharing with us the lives and times of his sports oriented family growing up in Saskatchewan and Manitoba in the 1900’s and beyond. In this article Ken takes us through some of his experiences while teaching in China.

ZHENGZHOU:

Like any other fool starting out on an international adventure without being fully prepared, I watched as my new host explained that her city, Zhengzhou, was not pronounced ‘Zengzoo’.Who’d have thought that kind of spelling would be pronounced ‘Jung joe?’ Anyway, I had never heard of the place before, an yet it had more than nine million citizens. Zhengzhou is a poor city. Dusty because all of the hills and plains are barren of trees that sustained the good soil; cracked and heaving pavement on the city’s roads and sidewalks, suggesting either poor management or graft. There were five things that were highlights in my trek to Zhengzhou: a reference letter from the former Premier of British Columbia, Ling Zhou (that’s Amy), completion of my first draft of my novel ‘NORA and the Golden Dragon’, Leo’s Bar, and the arrival of Kevin O’Neill.

Here’s Bill Vander Zalm’s reference letter for me. Tell me that that didn’t impress the Chinese education authorities.

Vander Zalm reference (782x800)
Copy of letter courtesy of Ken Warren (ISN)

Then there was Amy, my most wonderful friend.

526133 10151205430182146_646744911_nShe did everything for me when it came to travel on trains, planes, and automobiles. Her notes on what foods to feed me, what to say to cabbies, and her constant company evenings out to Leo’s Bar were great. I know that she benefited by getting out in Chinese society such as it was, but how much fun was it for me? Each time I arrived at the bar, the singer would stop and announce that “Jack and Daniels has just arrived, so we can get the party going.” That was my nickname at Leo’s: “Jack and Daniels”, you’d have thought I was the only one who drank the stuff.

I was shocked to learn how horrible the Chinese Holocaust was at the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army. Shocked, and angry because as a graduated UBC history major I never learned a single thing about the rapes and murders of Nanking. How could anything as shocking as the murder of more than 300,000 civilians and the gang-raping of 40,000 females aged 6-76 and their subsequent slaughter by bayonet be passed over. While the Jewish Holocaust and its 6 million murdered victims is known worldwide and is terrible; how about the Chinese Holocaust which saw between 50-65 million civilian deaths (men, women, and children) in the most bizarre methods of torture. One must recall that every Chinese coastal city was occupied by the Japanese as a means of blockading China from receiving food. Only the Burma Road could be used to bring food into the country. A truly dire situation. The more I read about the situation, the more I determined to write a novel about it. While I finished the first draft of the novel in Zhengzhou, I had much more that I wanted to say. I called the story ‘NORA and the Golden Dragon’. Nora was my dearly-departed mother’s first name but it was also the acronym for Nanking Organized Resistance Army.

Then there was Kevin O’Neill, my colleague from Edward Milne Secondary in Sooke. Kevin had been Master of Ceremonies at my retirement party from BC teaching and had secured a job in Guangzhou. However, since the job they gave him was kindergarten, he turned them down and ended up at an Australian University 20 miles from Zhengzhou. You can’t even guess how much fun Kevin , Amy and I had on weekends at Leo’s Bar. I had an extra bedroom in my suite, and it was Kevin’s anytime he came to town.

GUANGZHOU:

Guangzhou’s Peizhing University was a special place because Denise and Patrick, 16, were there with me. Denise had the same number of classes to teach and the same number of teaching hours as me. Her classes loved her and included her–and Patrick and me–in all of their parties and special suppers. The first three weeks were the easiest since all of our students had day-long military exercises and we had no students and lots of time to prepare for their eventual appearance.

IMG 2207 (800x600) 
Army Training – Photo courtesy of Ken Warren (ISN)

Amazingly, there were 83 foreign teachers of English at Peizhing, the most I’ve ever heard of at a school or university. Pat was the Canadian flag-bearer as we entered the arena-sized restaurant Olympic style by nations. It was a supper sponsored by the university and 44/83 foreign teachers were from Canada.

There were two main highlights from the Guangzhou area: The Guangzhou Foreign Games, and Creation of my Chinese Mnemonics verses.

The Guangzhou Summer Games was a mini-Olympics held in the city for teams of foreigners in assorted track and field competitions with soccer being the king competition. Only three of our teachers entered in a track race each, but in soccer which our teachers played often against Chinese students and adult staff at our university we had a good chance to prove ourselves. There were 26 soccer teams with players from South Korea, Japan, Germany, the USA. Patrick always played with the teacher team, so even though he was only sixteen, games officials allowed him to register as an adult competitor. We went through our first four games with close wins; however, the fifth game against South Korea’s best team ended in a tie and required a shootout of 5 players each side. Yhe drama was awesome: we scored; they scored;we scored, they scored; we scored, they scored; we scored, they scored; we scored, they missed. Their miss put us in the Gold Medal game against a powerful black team from Cameroon. Only one goal had been scored against them in the five games leading to the Gold Medal game.

IMG 2208 (600x800) 
Patrick – Photo courtesy of Ken Warren (ISN)

“Don’t let the young boy play in this important game,” a Chinese official from our university said about Patrick. The teachers never said anything in response. The game got underway, and the Cameroon team appeared considerably stronger than us. They scored first, and just before the half, they got their second goal. At half time I talked to some of the guys and said “Patrick’s fresh, ignore what that professor said.” “He’s the vice president of our university, ” one of the guys remarked. “Who cares?” I answered. “This is Guangzhou’s Foreign Games. He’s Chinese; he’s no foreigner. Why are we even listening to him.” “I agree,” Steve said. “Pat can go in for me.”

IMG 2116 (800x600)
Pat Scores – Photo courtesy of Ken Warren (ISN) 

The next goal was scored by Pat, making it 2-1 for Cameroon. Then Cameroon scored: 3-1. Then Pat scored again: 3-2. Then Cameroon finished off the scoring: 4-2 final for them. That night at the banquet for 3,000 foreign athletes, the gold medals and silver medals were handed out and the Cameroon team asked Pat to sit at their table to eat. “He scored more goals against us than the other five teams together,” one Cameroon player said.

IMG 2206 (800x600) 
Pat Invited To Have Supper At Cameroon Table – Photo courtesy of Ken Warren (ISN)

It was in Peizhing that I developed and tested my Chinese Mnemonics. I’ve shown you my USA and Canadian Mnemonics, and the Chinese pair operate similarly.

HERE, FOR EXAMPLE, IS CHAIRMAN MAO’S VERSE FEATURING CHINA’S PROVINCES, TERRITORIES AND SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGIONS:

ONE CHINA RISING

MAO’S EXIT QUIZ

HUSH, SEE TOJO SIGH

OH BEAUTIFUL CHINA

YOU JIG-JAG SO HIGH

INTERPRETATION: On his death-bed, Mao quizzes future successors on three Chinese problems:

1) Hush! Listen to our old Japanese enemy burn in Hellfire for his sins against our people. Demand a serious apology from the Japanese for their many atrocities.

2) Return China to its former beauty before WWII and the Cultural Revolution.

3) Raise the economy, technology, and skyscrapers to the heavens.

REMOVE ALL OF THE VOWELS (EXCEPT THE 2 IN ‘CHINA’) AND THE 34 REMAINING LETTERS ARE THE 34 CHINESE PROVINCES, AUTONOMOUS TERRITORIES, AND SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGIONS. THE TWO VOWELS STAY IN ‘CHINA’ BECAUSE IT IS ‘ONE’ CHINA, STRONG, UNDIVIDED.

IMG 2153 (600x800)
Photo courtesy of Ken Warren (ISN) 

IMG 2154 (600x800)
Photo courtesy of Ken Warren (ISN) 

HERE IS CHINA’S SECOND VERSE WHICH FEATURES THE 34 CAPITAL CITIES OF CHINA

CHINA FOOLED EVERYBODY

HO, HO, I’M A JOKE

LONG AGO CHINA WAS TEA & AXE

BY 1997, COOL CITIES & FAX

OH CHINA: “U THE SEZ !”

INTERPRETATION: 1) HO,HO LOL AT MYSELF FOR BEING SUCH A FOOL

2) I EXPECTED CHINA WOULD REMAIN POOR WITH JUST TEA, RICE AND CRUDE TOOLS THROUGHOUT MODERN TIMES.

3) BUT BY 1997 CHINA WAS FULL OF GREAT CITIES AND GREAT TECHNOLOGY.

4) OH CHINA, YOUR WHOLE COUNTRY IS A ‘SEZ’ (SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONE).

IMG 2151 (600x800)
Photo courtesy of Ken Warren (ISN)

IMG 2152 (600x800)
Photo courtesy of Ken Warren (ISN)

NEXT BLOG: SHANGHAI, NANJING, NANCHANG & YANGSHUO

Your sports. Your teams. The ISN Daily Digest.

Sign up to the ISN Daily Digest and sit back while we pick the previous day’s best headlines and speed them straight to your inbox every morning.
Email address
First Name*
We abide by all applicable emailing laws including 100% CAN-SPAM/CASL/US CAN-SPAM Act compliance. No spam!