Fond Memories of

My Year Teaching in Nanjing

1985-1986 was an amazing year in my life;
I was teaching American Literature
as a Fulbright Professor
at Nanjing University in Nanjing, China.
Take a look back with me at a Nanjing that has vanished .

Nanjing University is one of the ten key universities in China. Guards at the entrances checked everyone out.

This is what Nanjing University looked like back in 1985-86

Foreign Experts Compound--living quarters on left, dining hall on right, and the waiban looking after us.

Nanjing was one of the best universities, with many foreign teachers and students who formed a community. Nanjing is a large city with many trees and parks. My quarters were spacious.

The red star was everywhere, e.g. here on the Administration Building.


I had a lovely living room, with a computer, a balcony, my bird Ganxie,

There was a strong community life among the foreign teachers, all of whom were working for the Foreign Languages Department. We ate together in the Dining Hall, roomed near each other in the Foreign Experts compound, traveled together to Shanghai or on trips arranged by the waiban, rode into town on our bikes to dine or shop together, took qi gong classes together; we were fortunate there were so many of us.

Liu Haiping and Cheng Mei watch as Mr. Zhu paints a landscape of Huangshan for me. I have it on my wall still.

Deirdre West from Britain taught English and organized a choir.

Later I saw Deirdre again in India .

Ren Rong taught me Chinese painting and calligraphy. He married a German student.

Masako taught Japanese and was my good neighbor.

My Phoenix bike transported me everywhere for a year--I sold it to a Chinese student when I left.

Close friends --Deirdre and Lynn Conroy with whom I traveled, Jim Friend from Chicago State (an exchange between my university an Nanjing). Second semester Alice Barter came to take his place.

Lynn Conroy and I with Vice President Yu, Huang Zhongwen, and Zhang Boran at the Provincial Party meeting banquet.


A dinner party at the Yellow House on campus--Jim Friend is standing center, Lynn Conroy is standing left.

My job was to teach American Literature to undergrad and grad students. Since Fullbright professors are expected to promote American values, I took along a lot of videos and slides to show students what America is really like. I taught a film class both terms that was popular because American films were rare in those days, and I gave some slide lectures. I got used to glitches--key access, language, electrical mismatch, TV system mismatch, etc. I was grateful to have contacts or helpers.

I gave a slide lecture on Colonial America open to all students. Many came, to practice their English.

Alice Barter arrived the second semester.


My Chinese was not sufficient to explain what I needed. English faculty member Cheng Mei was our liaison with the waiban. We told her what we needed and she would do what she could. I had bronchitis for months and she went with me to the doctors to speak for me. I needed help arranging for the film course, and Yu Nin Ping, who taught film and women's studies, was the go-between with the projectionist for me.


Cheng Mei and Yu Nin Ping --English teachers who helped me greatly.

With graduate students in American Literature rehearsing parts in Thornton Wilder's The Matchmaker.

I loved the students at Nanjing. Classes met only once a week ("stuffing the duck") and they never had enough time for the huge reading assignments I was used to giving. They were marvelous students--I would love to hear from them again.

Undergraduates in American Lit. class.


Taping The Matchmaker at my place

Most of my graduate students were teaching English in colleges around China. They were eager to better their lives; many have since come to the US and gotten advanced degrees and settled down here. I still keep in touch with a few .

Graduate students in American Lit class


Graduate students in American Lit class

Graduate students included: Lu Zhongti, Fan Huaishen, Zhang Xiangning, Gu Tao, Zhuang Guo Ou, Cen Ye Feng, , Xue Zhou tang, Chen Jianming, Li Qing fen, Zhu Shaoyuan, Zhou Chen, Zhang Ling, Xiao Yong, Yang Zhiyong, Zhang Hequan, Li Aimin, Jin Xiaoxing, Wu Xiao Mei, Zhou Xiaoyuan, Jin Xuexin--anyone else? If you read this, e-mail Mary Rose

Undergraduate students included Zhang Yumei, Da Chansong, Zeng Jian, Zhang Leifang, Guo Yiyi, Peng Ning, Zhao Guanghong, Zhong Bo, Zhou Yunfan, Li Guangzhong (in Chicago), Li Yaokun, Tang Yan, Zhao Min (married in Tiananmen Square during the 1989 student uprising to one of the leaders), Wang Wenzhao, Gu Jihung, Zhu Yide, Gong Qingyuan, Wang Lifei, Yin Yuanji, Li Li, Ding Li, Gun Lin, Zhang Yumei, Wang Zhiqi, Chen Jilin, Han Zhen, Wang Bei, Yang Hanfeng, Pan Lichun.


Ballroom dancing was popular -- Li Aimin and Fan Huaishen.


Students lived on campus and generated their own social life out of nothing. Dancing was popular, and at parties anyone who could play a musical instrument, a game, or a trick was expected to perform.

Wu Andi plays and grad students sing at a Christmas party.


Chinese Checkers absorbed Xiao Hong, Jin Xiaoxing, Zhou Chen, and friends.

The Research Institute was working on a history of Contemporary English and American Literature in Chinese. Chen Jia, the founder, was a noted Shakespeare scholar. Others working with him were faculty members Liu Haiping, Zhang Ziqing, Zhang Junhuan, as well as some grad students--Tan Dali, Zhuang Guo Ou, Fan Huaishen, Zhang Ling, and Yang Zhiyong. Chen Jia died in 199?


Cen Yefeng wires the boombox for a party.

Gu Tao plays a guessing trick(with help from Zhuang Guo Ou's signals).

I was happy to discover some Catholics among the foreign teachers in Nanjing, including a a Christian Brother teaching Spanish, and a Maryknoll priest who celebrated Mass each Sunday and Holy Day in my living room, for our community.

The Research Institute, with Chen Jia


After Christmas mass: Guillermo Danieli, me, Lynn Conroy, and Jack Cuff, MM.

Toasting Christmas with wassail

Dancing in my galoshes.

Deirdre West directed us in Bach's Magnificat at Easter in a local church.

During the February New Year break I traveled with Lynn around China--Shanghai, Guilin, Kunming and then Guangzhou--before she went to Japan and I went to Hong Kong and then to Taiwan. Second semester brought better health and better weather, new faces, new classes, Easter, field day, framing my paintings, more travel, and finally, packing to leave. My grad students helped me with the cubic meter box I was returning with.


Zhang Xiangning and Yu Ninping came for lunch.

Our Catholic community at Nanjing, after Easter Mass

Thanks to the students and the faculty--foreign and Chinese--with whom I shared many precious memories. I look back on this year in China as one of the highlights of my life. All of us were posted there together, and we relied on each other for companionship, social life, entertainment, morale boosting. These friends enriched my experience of China immensely.

The framing shop in Nanjing mounted scroll paintings for me.

above: Zhang Xiangning helps with my cubic meter box when I left.

right: A contemporary view of Nanjing. These tall buildings have all gone up since I was there.

To continue see Travels in China I

Travels in China II

Travels in China III

Arrival and First Impressions- August, 1985

Mid-Year Observations

New Year's Monthlong travels
New Term Begins: February through Mid-April

Teaching in China
China Travels III

China Travels II