A Distant Place

A Distant Place

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This book is a compilation of the 230 best student essays submitted in English composition classes at the Teachers College of Qingdao University in Qingdao, Shandong, P. R. China, during the spring semester of 2000. The stories were submitted to fulfill assignments given by American instructor, Mark F. Harris, for his students to write about their grandparents, parents, family life and some of their own childhood and school experiences as well as to contemplate the future. In doing research for the essays, a few of the students had the good fortune to interview their grandparents, while many more were able to question their parents. They wrote about times of hardship, sacrifice and deprivation. They gave brief but graphic accounts of the Japanese invasion and occupation of China, the War of Liberation and the founding of modern China, the Cultural Revolution and of hardships associated with famine and poverty. Some of the essays described the common relationships that exist in the traditional Chinese family. In writing about themselves, most students related memorable events of their normal, carefree childhood. They also mentioned encountering frustrations in their growing up and changing years and of competing with classmates in school activities. Almost universally, they wrote about the challenge of preparing for and passing the university entrance examination. Many essays conveyed messages portraying strong cultural values, such as honesty, perseverance, loyalty, devotion, justice and responsibility. Stories depicting situations of great seriousness are balanced with those reflecting childhood innocence and humor. The students wrote in English, which is their second language. Mr. Harris quickly learned there was a unique style to their qChinese Englishq. They were able to superimpose English over their Chinese language and thought patterns, resulting in writing with less precision and exactness when compared to American usage. Yet, beautiful imagery and poetic expressions seemed to flow naturally. Even though the reader may have no knowledge of the Chinese language, most probably, he will unknowingly be reading qChineseq when studying these essays. A good example of this beautiful language is expressed in an essay by Liu Ranji (James), who concluded that qa distant place is not only a concept of space, it is a higher pursuit in spirit. The pursuit will be endless, since a distant place is like a beacon that guides my journey in life.q The title of the book comes from this essay, since the qpursuitq described by the writer in many ways parallels the author's qpursuitq, even in traveling to qa distant placeq called China. This timely collection of essays, written by some of China's brightest young people, gives clear insight into a way of life that properly needs to be recorded.Most of my students began studying English when they entered junior middle school (junior high school). Now ... In assigning my students seven different writing topics during the semester, I had them complete one essay every second week.

Title:A Distant Place
Author:Mark F. Harris
Publisher:Trafford Publishing - 2002


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