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Joe Vincent’s Introduction…Going into the Unknown!

Dear China Educator 2018 All-Stars(!),

Welcome to our yak board and thank you to all of you who have already posted! I can’t wait to (virtually) meet the rest of our participants as we gear up for our China adventure in less than two months! Just this morning, I posted our second prompt, which concerns the question of governance and democracy in China. The questions should be pretty straightforward, but please let me know if anything is unclear! (:

Before I jump into my Pico Iyer quote, I thought I would first share a little about myself:

I grew up in Canton, Ohio (loved the Cleveland shout-out, Frank!), and hadn’t really gone too far from home until the age of 16 when I decided to become an exchange student. I had no idea where I wanted to go until my neighbor at the time, who was from Beijing, told me that Taiwan was a beautiful place and that learning Chinese would be beneficial for my future (this was also an important sell to my parents who otherwise were not keen on me leaving home!). I took his advice, lived there for a year, and have been going back ever since. In college, I spent my summers in Taipei as a translator for Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline association, the island’s first LGBT center. I later went back to Taiwan to pursue my master’s in Chinese Literature, where I studied fiction of the Ming and Qing Dynasties. It wasn’t actually until I started my graduate studies that I finally made it to the Mainland for the first time, which is where I now call home (Beijing). Which leads me to my quote:

“So travel, for many of us, is a quest for not just the unknown, but the unknowing…”

My goal in this course is to see the places that we encounter on this course with fresh eyes, a beginner’s mind. My favorite part about being an instructor is the opportunity to see China with a fresh perspective time and time again with new students and educators who have never been here, or have not been back in a long time. Having lived here for several years, there are so many aspects of living in China that that I have begun to take for granted or no longer notice. My goal for this program is to not let this habituation get the best of me, and to rediscover my sense of curiosity in engaging with this place. More than being an “instructor” per se, my goal is to be more of a co-learner, asking questions and unpacking our experience alongside all of you as it unfolds. China throws new questions at me every day, and I cannot wait to begin to ponder, reflect on, struggle over, (etc.…) those questions with all of you.

Wishing you all a restful beginning to your summer break!