Back to
Rice paddy terraces

Your First Assignment

Dear China Students,

In the next few days before our course begins, we would like to ask you to complete one small task to help us instructors learn a little more about you. We’re asking that each student write an informal letter to your instructors (Joe, Shuier and Gong) letting us know what we can do to help you thrive on this semester course. What would you like us to know about you that isn’t included in your application? What would be most helpful for us to know? We know that you are all busy with packing, goodbyes, and course preparation, but we do hope that you can take an hour or so to set some intentions for this course and let us know how we can best support you in meeting your goals. We hope to foster a culture of open and honest communication on our course, and we hope that this can be a first step in that direction…Note: These letters will be read by all three instructors, but will not be shared with the group or anyone else.

Some possible things you might include:

What inspires you, and what can we do to help you feel motivated and challenged?

What can we do to make you feel safe and supported in our student group?

What annoys you? Do you have any pet peeves or things you’re sensitive about that we should avoid?

What does it look like when you are struggling or having a hard time? How can we support you when this happens?

(After taking a look at the tentative itinerary)…what aspect of the course most excites you? Is there anything left out of the itinerary that you hope we can include? Is there anything that makes you nervous?

Do you have any personal goals for the semester? How can we support you to reach these?

Please send your responses to Joe Vincent at If you prefer to handwrite these letters, you can also give them to us in Beijing.

Thank you and we all look forward to meeting you soon!


Joe, Gong, and Shuier