Final Experiences at Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University, Lin’an, China

We had a wonderful, eye-opening year at ZAFU, and the final months were no exception.  As the Fall 2011 school begins there for another term, Barry and I are still on our way home to Maui to see friends and take care of business there.  However, we were busy our last months in Lin’an.

Unlike the graduations in the U.S., the ZAFU students don’t have an official ceremony.  Instead, some present a variety program and get to be on stage in their caps and gowns.

ZAFU Graduation Celebration

The graduation performance included song and dance

A skit from the graduation program

Some seniors rented graduation gowns and took photos with their friends.  Many went out to eat with their friends and family.

We got invited to Amanda’s family party to see her off to Sydney, Australia.  Her mom is going with her to make sure she is well cared for as Amanda seeks a job.

Amanda's young cousins, aunt, and mom

Amanda’s uncle, a former university teacher, now a stock broker, picked us up in a new Mercedes Benz.   The uncle’s son was there too.  He has been in a boarding school since he was five-years  old with both Chinese and English teachers in order to prepare to go to university in England–Cambridge this fall.  The other younger cousins are all on track to go to good universities too.

The Mercedes Benz uncle and his son, the cousin going to England-- with Barry and me

Amanda's parents in the middle; her aunt and uncle on the outside--at the restaurant specializing in turtle

Besides the turtle selections 😦 ,    we were offered plenty of other tasty dishes.  Amanda and her family are loving, hard-working, ambitious people.  We’ve been happy to help Amanda improve her English skills.

We also got invited to Becky’s birthday party.  This turned out to be a big event.   Although Barry and I knew we were going to a barbecue, when we got to the ZAFU West Gate where we were to meet, we found we were to go by bus and many of Becky’s and Ryan’s students were coming too.  They have been teaching at ZAFU for two years and know many students.  Ryan had been cooking for much of the day.

Ryan and Vivid cooking for Becky's birthday celebration

The students were ready for a celebration; they wanted to be part of Becky’s birthday party and most had just finished their final exams.

Celebrating students

Becky and Ryan shared potato salad, hamburgers, and hot dogs.  Everyone had fun.

Jennifer and the birthday girl -- Becky

Barry and I said lots of goodbye and  attended several end-of-the-year events such as the final Crazy English club meeting for the year.

Barry playing a Crazy English game. He's trying to get the student to guess the word on the screen.

Crazy English party

Crazy English dinner with Maggie and Bruce Meyer -- and Barry

We had our final Saturday movie night.     After our movie discussion and cookies, we gave away our collected supply of movies including ones Patrick contributed, so everyone was able to take one home.  Barry and I have really enjoyed this regular Saturday event as a great way to share cultural insights.

Movie Night Selections

Other teachers invited us over to say goodbye.

Helen cooking her homemade noodles

ZAFU English teacher Helen with her thesis students and Barry

ZAFU English teachers Lillian and Julia making wontons at Ellen's apartment for the English Department end-of-the-year party

Sarah Jean and Chair of the English Department, Ellen at her dinner for all of us

Mark, the teacher from Pittsburgh, organized (and cooked like mad) for a goodbye party for the five of us foreign teachers leaving ZAFU.  Morton got a job in Hangzhou; Sarah is leaving to organize her wedding; Sarah Jean will probably teach in South Korea, and Drew will return to school in the U.S.  We all met at Cindy’s Pizza.

Mark--our cook extraordinaire--Cindy, and Diana

Barry, friendly Cindy, and me

Back: Ryan, me, Cindy, Morten, Sarah Jean, Mark, Patrick Front: Barry, Becky, Diana

I got to have special goodbyes with special students.

My student helpers -- Ben and Mabel

With Jessica-- we tried to get yoga started on campus for students and faculty

We said goodbye to special people including –

Barry, Wendy, Diana, and Mark

Ablikim, Bill, Patrick, Barry

We had a short, intense summer school session, so I got to say and extra goodbye to many of my wonderful students who I’ve taught during the year.  In the three-hour sessions, I got to share topics close to my heart:

Travel — how to do it cheaply.  Since many of these students will be able to travel the world, Barry and I wanted to give them hints.

Barry came in during in my final week of classes so that we could share our travel tips

Students sharing their travel dreams if money were not a problem

Topic two was health:

Sharing my health tip of how to floss

Of course, the students had time to talk in these oral English classes:

Paired talks about health


One of the 12 classes of summer school

The summer temperatures were high in these classrooms that have no air-conditioning. (One of the teachers said it got up to 113 degrees one afternoon).  However, Barry and I had fun and will miss these terrific students.

The day before we left Lin’an, we finally got to meet the dean and his family in whose apartment we lived from August to March.  They had been in Stockton, California, where Shane has been working on his Ph.D., his wife teaching Mandarin, and Zack going to a public elementary school.

Dean Shane and his lovely family

Spending the school year at ZAFU has been a wonderful experience.  You could do it too.  Think about it.    Zài Jiàn and Aloha, Renée



About reneeriley

Our blog was begun as a way to share our experiences in China. From August 2010 to July 2011, my husband, Barry Kristel, and I were at our University of Hawaii Maui College sister school, Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University in Lin'an, China, a city considered rural because it has only 500,000 people! We had a wonderful time. Then in February 2012, we returned to teach this time at our other sister school, Shanghai Normal University, in a city of over 21 million people. We've made many discoveries. Did you know that now Chinese girls, at least the ones who go to university, for the most part feel they are luckier than the Chinese boys? Did you know that Shanghai saved over 20,000 European Jews during WWII? Do you know how Chinese university students would deal with problems that come up in Dear Abby letters? What's it like to be on the Great Wall of China? Do you know how many Chinese girls had their feet bound and why? And we have recipes from many of the places we've visited. Among others, you can find instructions on how to fry cicadas from one of my ZAFU students and how to make chocolate-Kahlua waffles from my brother Mike in Gainesville. You can also look back to our earliest entry to see what we experienced in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2006 during the mainly peaceful six months of protest until the Mexican government sent in the troops. Between our stays in China, Barry and I have been on the Mainland U.S. visiting family, friends and Servas hosts as we traveled home to Maui. We share those experiences too. Welcome to our blog! Aloha and Zài Jiàn, Renée and Barry

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