About China SST
Goshen College began to send students to China in 1980. The SST program was one of the first North American study abroad programs in post-revolutionary China. SST has always been based in Sichuan province and is currently located in the city of Nanchong at China West Normal University. Students will live with hosts on or near this university campus.
During the first six weeks the days will be divided into language and cultural study. Students will spend several hours each day studying Mandarin and listening to lectures about Chinese history and culture. Students may have an opportunity to visit historical and cultural sites, such as the beautiful area in western Sichuan where one of the largest statues of Buddha can be seen and beautiful Mount Emei will be explored.
Students will leave Nanchong for smaller towns in western Sichuan province to assist with English classes in middle and high schools. All Chinese children must learn English and many are eager to hear a native English speaker.
At the end of the service portion of SST the group will leave Sichuan and travel north to Beijing. Along the way they will stop in the city of Xian and visit the site of the ancient Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses. They will travel by train from Xian to Beijing where they will visit the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Mao’s tomb and other important sites. They will also have the opportunity to explore a portion of the Great Wall shortly before their return to Goshen.
On October 27 we visited the SSTers who teach at Friendship Middle School in Guang’an. Friendship is an institution with a strong reputation for academics. The school is also well funded, as evinced by the touch screen smart boards in every classroom. The school has two campuses, one for lower middle school (grades 7-9) and one for upper middle school (grades 10-12). The campuses are a thirty minute (brisk) walk apart. Angeliky and Vince teach at both campuses, while the other four SSTers teach only on the upper middle school campus. Despite having two campuses, the school still faces classroom space constraints and so evening classes are a regular part of the school schedule. A large chunk of the SST teaching blocks are in the evenings, although they also have some morning and afternoon classes. A few Saturday review classes round out the schedules of some teaching pairs.
On October 23 and 24 we visited the SST teaching groups in the cities of Yilong and Langzhong. In Yilong we were able to sit in on four classes at Virtue Middle School and saw all of the student teaching pairs in action. We were impressed. Classes in Yilong are large, with 60 to 80 students in a room. The material the SSTers teach varies from class to class since they are teaching different grade levels (with different curricula) and language ability varies within each class.
Before leaving Nanchong for their teaching service, the SST group took one more field trip, visiting Lingyun Mountain National Forest Park east of Nanchong. Professor He Mingyu of the China West Normal University’s English Department served as our guide. She had been an exchange scholar at Goshen College in 2002 and eager to meet this year’s group of GC students.