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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.

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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