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East Lansing - 1

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Goodbye Michigan -
Hello Chicago & KC

February 10, 2012

Dear Students,

Greetings from East Lansing, Michigan, home of Michigan State University where I lived and worked between September 2004 and March 2010. I arrived here on February 3 after a 28+ hour train trip from my sister’s house in Grand Junction, Colorado.

I was picked up by a friend and colleague Dottie Schmidt who has hosted Chinese couples in her house for many years. Right now the couple living with her are from Qingdao, but got their BA degrees from Shandong Normal University and their MS degrees from Shandong University in Jinan. They have been living at her house for three years now and are working on their doctorates in Chemistry – I knew them before I moved to China last year. The man’s name is QuanXuan Zhang and his wife’s name is Hong Ren. In this report we will see them, Dottie, her house and other sights of this university town. I am very pleased to live at the house with them, chat a little in Chinese, and share our common knowledge about China and Michigan.

I seem to fit right into this blended family of a Chinese couple, an American mother, and now a grandfather with a foot in each world. I have a bedroom on the second floor next to theirs, my own bathroom, and we share the rest of the house in common. We share meals collectively or eat separately (eating Chinese dishes or American cuisine from meal to meal) English and Chinese is interchanged along with chopsticks and silverware. We each have our own schedule - they go to the chemistry lab each day, Dottie has a busy schedule of volunteer meetings and sports activities, and I have a list of tasks I want to do while in East Lansing. Some days I ride to the center of campus with them as they go to the lab, other times Dottie drops me off at appointments, and part of the time I ride the public/campus bus system.

The first full day in town I get to attend yet another Spring Festival with Chinese and Korean students attending the Visiting International Professional Program (my previous work unit). I meet a Chinese accounting teacher from Jinan that works at the same school as my friend Han Mei. Later in the week I meet a Chinese business woman that has brought her twin daughters to East Lansing to attend high school and later the university. She is from Jinan and knows some of the leaders at Shandong Sport University! I help her find a Chinese woman (one of my friends from Beijing) to live with her daughters in East Lansing while she goes back to Jinan to run a very important family business.

The US - Michigan /East Lansing - China - Jinan - Beijing world is so small! It is all tied together by English/Chinese and education at MSU and I am right in the center of it all! I have made a dozen new contacts – connections and my network has grown all because I live in two very important language worlds. . .

I will make this short - enjoy the pictures - we will talk about this more in class this semester when I get back. Send your questions and comments, you still are on holiday but one should never stop learning.

Your teacher,