This summer, Ohio Dominican University’s own Dr. Tim Micek taught English in The People’s Republic of China through the Wuhan University Summer Intensive English Program (WUSIEP). He generously shared the details of his trip with the ODU TESOL Graduate Student Organization at its September 26th meeting.
Each summer, WUSIEP chooses a select group of instructors to teach English language and American culture to highly qualified Wuhan University students. The program runs for three weeks, during which instructors are provided with meals and lodging at a university hotel near Wuhan’s beautiful campus. During the academic year, this public university is home to over 50,000 students (comparable to Ohio State) and is the seventh best university in all of China (–think Ivy League in the U.S.!). To top it off, instructors from the U.S. are never too far from the comforts of home. Located conveniently close to campus are a Wal Mart, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, etc.
Weekdays in the program consist of daytime classes and evening extra-curricular activities. In the classes, instructors teach English through content dealing with an aspect of American culture. Instructors are assigned different themes to teach their classroom of (roughly) 15-20 students. They have each group of students for three days before a new group of students rotates in. In 2013, there were about 600 students in the program. Dr. Micek said that the evening extra-curricular activities gave WUSIEP a sort of “summer camp” feel. Some of the extra-curriculars offered this year included scrabble, other classic American board games, and Yiddish.
Teaching in China is a different experience than what American teachers might be accustomed to. The culture and environment are different, and not everyone speaks English. ESOL teachers, of all people, should know that they will probably go through a little bit of culture shock in a new country. Be prepared for minor misunderstandings due to linguistic and cultural differences. They may be embarrassing at the time, but these awkward situations will give you good stories to tell your friends later and help you be a better cultural navigator. Also, instructors in China stand up during class, which makes for tired legs! (Bring comfortable walking shoes for walking to and from class.)
WUSIEP is not all work and no play! Some highlights of Dr. Micek’s trip included walking on the Great Wall, visiting various landmarks in Beijing, and, of course, trying new foods. His favorite part of China was Shanghai, where he stopped for a short time on his way back to the U.S. He said that the city was an interesting mix of old and new, and recommends that anyone who has the opportunity go see it for him/herself.
Summers in Wuhan are hot and humid, and Dr. Micek says that there is about one day of heavy rain per week, so those considering a trip to Wuhan should remember to keep weather in mind when packing their suitcases. Also, participants must bring their own funds for snacks, souvenirs, and laundry needs (if you do not wish to wash your clothing by hand and let it air dry).
For more information about WUSIEP and requirements for potential applicants, click this link to read an Ohio State University posting.
Also, any Ohioans interested in applying for WUSIEP next summer should join Ohio TESOL and keep an eye out for an email from Bob Eckhart (WUSIEP Recruiting Coordinator and Program Manager) sometime around early spring. Feel free to contact the ODU TESOL GSO with any questions and we will do our best to find answers for you!