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This is a poignant and irreverent diary of the author's yearlong (2001-2) experience of teaching English to college students in Beijing, People's Republic of China. From the very first pages, the author draws you into his struggle with a culture worlds away from his comfort zone. The author's generous and compelling personality allowed him to gain access to the lives of his students and their families, who became characters in his tale. One can experience the author's wit and humanity throughout the narrative.

The author's humorous view of China is especially timely and dovetails with the current explosion of interest in that country as it enters the modern world. The book is neither a travelogue nor a look at the government, although elements of those subjects are woven into the story. Instead, it is an engaging look at China, tailored toward those who know little about it. Still, those who have lived and/or traveled there will also enjoy the book as it reminds them of the absurdities they, too, experienced.

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  • Prologue and Weeks 1-4. The Journey Begins

  • Weeks 5-6. Peter throws away the textbook and begins to be a real teacher.

  • Weeks 10-13. From teaching the Bible in an hour and a half to the 503 Bus.

  • Weeks 14-18. Unexpectedly (for his students), Peter returns to Beijing from his US Christmas vacation.

  • Weeks 19-23. Peter teaches his students about April Fool's Day, tries to find tomato seeds, and discovers Italian food in China.

  • Weeks 24-27. The students find out Peter is writing a book. Peter's American friend, Martha, comes to visit and promptly has her backpack stolen.

  • Weeks 28-31. Peter attempts to describe authentic Chinese food and goes traveling with Wang Lu.

  • Weeks 32-35. The Central Michigan Chippewas come to visit.

  • Weeks 36-39. Peter finally gets a key to his classroom and teaches his students how to root for the home team.

  • Weeks 40-44, Epilogue. A shocking end to the tale.

  • Letters from Peter's Students. The students react to tragic news.

I listen to the book and sometimes to the same chapter again and again. I like the way Peter describes China with much wit and humor. Suddenly I got to the chapter where I understood that he passed away and it made me very sad as if a very good ...
I listen to audiobooks to help me sleep but this one I stayed awake to hear cover to cover. What a wonderful gift this story is to help us accept a people we do not know and hear of a country often portrayed as one to fear. Thank you for ...
It is a real fascinating story. I love how China is portrayed through Peter's eyes without prejudice. Good or bad, it is what it is. You can't understand China without knowing its people and culture. I learned a lot from Peter's journals. Thank you for sharing.
I downloaded this podiobook a few months back as a major gathering of podiobooks to listen to. This morning I started listening to this one and was very surprised at the quality of the letters. I am an International Studies major and last semester I took a class on China ...
Jane - Thanks for your comment. The family always appreciates hearing that people are enjoying the book and being motivated to take action to enjoy the diversity of life, as did he.
this was a truly wonderful book. I'm so glad to have come across it. I was listening to it while working, and although it is such a simple story, just a journal of daily experiences in China, it was so beautiful and well told. I was crying while at work ...
Not my usual kind of book but it looked interesting. Boy am I glad I did. I was 2/3 of the way through when I googled the author so maybe I could email him a note on how much I was enjoying the book. I was sad to read of ...
As a teacher preparing to teach in China for the first time this summer, this book was recomended to me by a friend. I loved his humor and personality. I also took several notes to self of what to pack and bring with me and what not to do while ...
Thank you for sharing these letters. Life is to full of the bad but this is really good.
I loved this book. To the family -Thank you for sharing Peter and this journey with us. Thomas did an excellent job. This was an out of genre book for me and I'm glad I took that step.

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Logo This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 license.

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