David poses for a photo beside a sign that reads Tuanjiehu English Corner in the Tuanjiehu Park on September 17.He has kept on teaching English voluntarily in China for more than ten years.[Photo by Sun Chi/Qianlong]
“Not normally we use junkie by itself, it’s not such a good word. It means you are addicted to drugs.” “News junkie is OK.” In the afternoon of the day the picture was taken, David came to the Tuanjiehu English Corner on time to interact with his students there as what he does on every Sunday.
“My hometown is Vancouver. Like Beijing, it is a cosmopolitan city. But Beijing is much bigger with a population of more than 20 million, while Vancouver is one and a half million. And Beijing has more traffic.” This is what Beijing left the Canadian comes from afar the deepest impression.
Around late 80’s and early 90’s, David had his first tie with China, he went to a small city near Shanxi’s Datong for work in the mining industry. In January 2007, David came to China for work again, but this time he chose to stay in Beijing. Since then, he has served as an expert at the technology department of an American mining equipment supplier for more than ten years.
David said: “I’m different from many foreigners in China. Because of work, I travel all around China, I’ve been to many places like Macao, Shanghai. I’ve been to some places where I’m the only foreigner.”
Speaking of why he teaches English voluntarily, David said, once in 2007, his nephew visited Beijing for a cultural exchange activity. So they made an arrangement to meet at the McDonald’s near the Chaoyang Cultural Center. During the meeting, he was invited by a local to attend an English corner called Chaoyang Cultural Center English Corner. David asked: “What is an English corner?”Motivated by curiosity, he later took part in the English corner and from then on he kept it on. David said as long as he is not on a business travel, he generally comes here to teach English voluntarily. He recalled: “The Tuanjiehu English Park was officially founded in 2007 before the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Some officials attended the founding ceremony at the time.” “Many people who come here can read and write in English, but they can’t speak fluently in English. I don’t teach them grammar at the class, I practice their oral English, we talk about what are happening around the world,”David smiled.
He finds it is interesting and meaningful the years he shared with his students. Once during a class, he and his students were discussing heart related items. But hasn’t he talked much about it, he found one of his students is a lot better than him. David asked him what does he do? The student replied he is the chief cardiac surgeon at the Peking University Hospital. Later when they talked about it, the doctor said to David when he is in China, he conducts academic exchange in Chinese, but when he goes abroad to study in Italy, he uses English to communicate. He needs to improve his oral English proficiency, so he comes.
More than a decade, the time David lives in Beijing is longer than many Chinese who live in the city. Today, Beijing has become another home of his.
David teaches English voluntarily at a canteen in the park of Tuanjiehu on September 17. [Photo by Sun Chi/Qianlong]
David interacts with his students when he teaches English voluntarily at Tuanjiehu. [Photo provided to Qianlong]