Monday, September 8, 2014

August Activities



Claudine Evans and Eduardo Castilla-Ortiz participated in the Missouri Educator Gateway Assessment (MEGA) Marker Response Selection Meeting held in Columbia, MO on August 14th, 2014. The tests for candidates seeking teacher certification in French and Spanish are being redesigned in the state of Missouri. The educators who attended this meeting, including Evans and Castilla-Ortiz, worked on the redesign process.

Exhibitions/Publications/Peer Review

Marianne Kunkel's poem "Notes to my Mormon Grandmother" has been accepted for publication in North American Review.


Ana Bausset-Page attended the XIV International Congress of Hispanic Literature August 6-8th in Cordoba, Argentina where she presented a paper entitled: "Tridimensionalidad en dos cuentos de J. L. Borges y J. Cortazar."

Cynthia Jeney presented her paper "Kenneth Burke, John Searle, and Chris Hables Gray Walk into a (Cyber) Bar: Why the Burkean System Must be Extended Online" at the Ninth Triennial meeting of the International Kenneth Burke Society in St. Louis.

Student/Community Involvement/Successes

Susan Martens was an invited panelist at the New Orleans Writing Marathon Retreat hosted by the Southeastern Louisiana Writing Project July 14-18.

Tom Pankiewicz (MWSU, retired) was invited to attend the National Writing Project’s College Ready Writing Program Resource Development Retreat in Memphis, TN, July 23-25.

The Prairie Lands Writing Project’s College Ready Writing Program launched its Argument Writing Cadre with meetings at MWSU on August 6th and August 28th.  This program is part of the second year of work in a three-year National Writing Project i3 (Investing in Innovation) grant  managed by PLWP Principal Investigator Jane Frick (MWSU retired) and coordinated by Lead Facilitators Tom Pankiewicz (MWSU retired) and Kathy Miller (Weston). The Argument Writing Cadre involves pairs of PLWP Teacher Consultants and English Language Arts teachers from three schools in the grant program, along with several school administrators, who work together to develop argument-based writing units and to track student improvement in academic writing.

Cadre members are: from Braymer: Mitch Barnes, Terrance Sanders, and Diane White; from Breckenridge: Linda Gaines, Brent Skinner and Lauren Wingate; from Hamilton: Carrie Cavender, Terri Moore,  Candy Hensley, Allison Ford, and Traci Schieber; from PLWP: Jane Frick, Tom Pankiewicz, and Kathy Miller as well as  Maridella Carter (Blue Springs High School), Janet Jelavich (Maryville retired),  Terri McAvoy (SJSD retired), Amy Miller (MWSU), and Valorie Stokes (Platte County High School).

Our Man in China (2): Tea Shops, American Pie, and Gangnam Style

You Want Culture? Yeah, I’ve got your culture right here. Take a line—180º—and visualize American and Chinese cultures on opposite ends, then there are a few places in between. Our newest friend from Xi’an, Zhou Zhenglv, chatted me up on WeChat (a smart phone app that I’m slowly getting used to) that my MoWest colleagues were getting anxious to read more about what I am experiencing. Well, it’s been a month now, and during that time I thought I’d let the wave of it flow over me, savor it, and then try to put it all in some kind of order. So here we go, from the soothing and simple, to a mild reminder of how easy it is to be U.S.-centric, and lastly to the sublime.

            Of the many things I wish to cross off my to-do list as an American in China, one is to drink more green tea and less coffee. I had heard about a tea shop across the main highway and wanted to go, so our friend, Tiantian, took me there one day. The experience was relaxing and informative, yet also allowed me to just “be” and take it in. One tea shop? No. The mall had a whole wing’s worth of amazing shops. They sparkle and shine. They’re filled with clay tea pots, porcelain tea pots, hand-crafted tea pots, large, small, glass tea cup sets, strainers, heating pots, tongs--enough bric-a-brac and tea sets to dazzle and make even the person least interested in buying a tea set (that would be me) want to shell out a few hundred Yuan just to have one. Beautiful stuff. Of course, there are the tea varieties that range in quality—extremely expensive puer tea (from 300 year old tea trees) to the much less expensive, but very pleasant, flowered jasmine tea. Yes, I may not have bought into the pitch that a small brick of puer tea from the old tree was worth me shelling out 1,000 Yuan (about $160), and I’m not much for accumulating “stuff,” so I didn’t buy a tea set, but I did end up buying plenty of lesser-quality-but-still-very-good puer, green, and jasmine flower teas.

            As Tiantian and I roamed the halls and peered through glass doors and windows, the man pictured beckoned us into his place, inviting us to sit and talk and simply pass some time. I was hesitant because I had already purchased a few grams of tea from another shop and didn’t want to insult him by sampling his teas and then leave without buying anything. Tiantian assured me it was the custom to sit and enjoy and not to worry. I wish I remembered the proprietor’s name because he was pleasant and funny and warm and, I think, happy to have an American sitting with him. I liked him almost immediately. In his shop he only carried puer tea, which he explained was the real deal from ancient trees maintained and cultivated by the ancestors. I asked about caffeine content (he didn’t laugh) and he was taken aback for a moment, as if that was something with which to be concerned. He went on to say that puer has less caffeine than, and the medicinal properties far outweigh, what is found in green tea. His tea lowered blood pressure, had more anti-oxidants, and even helped stop male-patterned baldness. I was sold. I’m now drinking more tea and taking fewer trips to Starbucks.

            Then there are the KTVs. Where to start with them, eh? Over the past few weeks, whenever I went anywhere with anyone, I kept seeing signs like New World KTV or Sunshine (committee?) KTV, and some others. I honestly thought they were television stations until Tiantian informed me they were karaoke establishments. Oh! Oh, oh, oh goody. However, they’re nothing like the karaoke bars we find in the states. These places are clubs that are laid out like hotels, with waiters dressed like bellboys  (complete with vests and white gloves), beautiful receptionists greeting patrons at the reservation desk (yes, you have to have a reservation for karaoke), private singing rooms, sparkling disco-ball lights, polished floors, glass and brass and overpriced beverages.

            A group of wonderful young graduate students who are part of the Xidian University debate team invited me for an afternoon of karaoke. How could I turn that down? Chen, the president of the team, and Summer, John, and Simon booked three hours during a late afternoon. After the initial pleasantries, John, in a sort of non sequitur, asked about my favorite NBA team. I told him I am a Lakers fan. He said, “Kobe Bryant!”  “Yes,” I said, “and Magic Johnson and Kareem...” to a blank look. I can’t imagine his look any blanker if I’d said Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West, so I asked him about his favorite player. Lebron James, of course. So, John has challenged me to a game of 21. I accepted (the glutton for punishment that I am). It should be fun. I liked them all, immediately. Their ease around me made me feel welcomed and wanted, despite the age difference. Even though I thought I’d stay for an hour, maybe two, and then head back to the apartment, I spent the whole time with them. It was a blast.

            Imagine this: being in a 10x12 foot darkened room, with multi-colored lights moving in patterns over the walls. A wide screen TV is a few feet in front of a comfy couch, an electronic, touch-screen monitor is to the left. Thousands of karaoke videos are at the singers’ fingertips, 90% of the lyrics in Chinese. A waiter comes in, drops off some bottles of sweetened tea, a couple of bags of peanuts, and a plate or two of popcorn.

That was the beginning. The waiter tried to up-sell us on alcohol or sodas, but, of course, being students, my four hosts were content on the freebies. I offered to buy anything they wanted, but they would not hear of it. I was their guest. I could pay the next time (which I have found out is the way everyone gets around splitting checks). The waiter gave us two wireless microphones and left the room. Chen sat at the monitor and scrolled through the offerings. Everything was in Chinese. I asked if there was anything in English, you know, by Americans. Yes. He flipped through the screen—Usher, Eminem, Shakira, Lil Wayne, P. Diddy, and quite a few others, names that I knew, but their music? Ummm…No. Phew! I was not going to have to sing. He kept scrolling. Ah. There we go. Michael Bolton and Don McLean and John Denver. All right, so I did sing. Not a bad rendition of Michael Bolton’s version of Otis Redding’s “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” if I do say so myself.

Most everything that afternoon was sung by my companions. Chen loves to sing and sings everything with gusto. John has a nice voice for ballads and love songs (I explained what a ballad is). Summer has a lovely, sweet voice. Simon and I had our moments in a duet of “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”  Yet, the highlight of the day (for me, not for them) was what turned out to be a sort of dueling karaoke. Another example can be found here. (You MUST click and watch. I mean it. Eyes wide, I held my chin up with the palm of my hand much like I did the first time I saw “What Does the Fox Say?”.)

Like I said, in between those two gems there was my failed attempt at “American Pie.”  You see, I thought they’d all be interested to know what the song meant. I thought, yeah, they’re gonna want to know the significance of moss growing fat on a rolling stone. What is a lonely teenaged bronc’n’ buck?  Can music save your mortal soul? But all I got was John telling me he likes the blues. I explained the roots to him. Nothing else seemed to stand out for them in Don McLean’s lyrics, though, and I knew I was SOL the day the music died.

            However, I wasn’t too deflated.  No. The afternoon was filled with hours of amazing videos, most of them filmed in China, Taiwan, Korea, and other gorgeous areas of Asia. There were humorous songs, upbeat/fun songs, and love songs with beautiful people, all very much like our Youtube music videos. I took it all in and thoroughly enjoyed my time with my new friends and look forward to more unique moments with everyone I have met so far and will meet in the months to come.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Fall 2014 Foreign Film Festival

Foreign Film Series Fall 2014

All films at 06:30 pm in Hearnes Hall 102 (Theater in the lower floor of  MWSU Library) sponsored by English and Modern Languages Department

All films are free and open to the public!

Wed, Sep 10  Lola rennt (Run Lola Run), in German with English subtitles presented by Sebastian Loewen
Thu, Sep 18 La historia official/ The official story, in Spanish with English subtitles presented by Ana Bausset-Page
Fri, Sep 26  Canela/ cinnamon , (2012) in Spanish with English subtitles Presented by F. Eduardo Castilla O.
Thu, Oct 02 Habana blues, (2005)  in Spanish with English subtitles
presented by Miguel Rivera Taupier
Wed, Oct 08  Un long dimanche de fiançailles / A Very Long Engagement (2004)  in French with English subtitles
presented by Susie Hennessy
Tues, Oct 14  The grandfather / El abuelo (1998), in Spanish  with English subtitles presented by Carlos Yebra Lopez
Thu, Oct 30,  El secreto de sus ojos / The secret in their eyes  (2009), in Spanish  with English subtitles presented by   F.Eduardo Castilla O.
 Wed, Nov 05  Joyeux Noël (Merry Christmas) (2005), in French, English and German, with English subtitles presented by Claudine Evans
 Tues, Nov 11  Letter from an unknown woman 一个陌生女人的来信 , in  Chinese with English subtitles presented by Zhou Zhenglyu
Wed, Nov 19  Vincent will meer (Vincent wants to sea), in German  with English subtitles presented by Sebastian Loewen

All films are free and open to the public!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Welcome to our new Fulbrighters and Xidian Exchange Professor

As we have in the past few years, this fall we welcome Fulbright instructors in both Spanish (Carlos Yebra Lopez) and German (Sebastian Loewen) as well as our third fourth Chinese instructor from our exhange partner, Xidian University (Zhou Zhenglyu).
Zhou is from Xi’an, China. He is an associate professor of English at Xidian University. He obtained a Master’s Degree in 2004 and remained in the university as a faculty member. He has published over 20 academic papers on language teaching & learning, particularly in the area of English writing. The four books he has authored or  co-authored are A Detailed Analysis of Common Errors in English Writing (2012), A Detailed Analysis of Common Mistakes in Academic Writing (2013), A Practical Course of Interpretation (2013), and A Practical English-Chinese Technical Dictionary (2013). Two more books, one about Chinese culture and the other being a writing course, are to come out this year. He is actively engaged in many research programs.

Sebastian was born in Trier, Germany (which is the oldest city of Germany, founded by the Romans at around 30 BC). He received a Bachelor’s as well as a Master's degree in English, Politics and Education at the Justus-Liebig Universitaet Giessen. Sebastian is excited to teach his mother tongue to MWSU students and hopes to share some of Germany's culture with as many students as possible. A fan of films, he is looking forward to the Modern Languages Foreign Film Series this semester. Besides movies, he likes sports, especially soccer. During his time in the US he hopes to see as many places as possible, attend an NBA as well as an NFL game, and eat a lot of local cuisine.


Born in Zaragoza (Spain), Carlos has devoted his career to the study of language. He first entered a BA (Hons.) in Philosophy (University of Zaragoza, Spain). As a result of this, he chose to specialize in the philosophy of language. He pursued a Master of Arts in Philosophy at University of London. During this period, he also obtained a Master’s in Education (University of Zaragoza) and an MA in Translation Studies (University of Portsmouth), as well as graduate diplomas in German, English and French. He has taught ELE (Spanish as a Foreign Language) in Belgium. In his free time, Carlos enjoys practicing sports (track and field, basketball and swimming), making jokes, reading and writing.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Our Man in China (1): Settling In


            Turn and face the strain.  And I have.  In fact, I believe I have embraced this adventure much
more than I thought I would, but then it’s only been about two weeks.  However, I don’t anticipate any change in my attitude, really.  I am one who immediately knows if I don’t like something (or someone, which doesn’t happen very often).  Anyway, here I am in Xi’an, residing in the middle of the old Xidian University campus.  Kay and Zeph know it well.  I cannot overstate how easy it has been, how smooth a transition, how quickly I have settled into a routine not unlike my routine in St. Joe.  Post-Jet Lag, I have been up by 6 a.m., out the door for my walk to the ‘bucks for a grande iced decaf Americano and croissant.  Back to the apartment, check email, work on syllabi, have some fruit for lunch—albeit dragonfruit, which has stark white flesh with small black seeds, or a peach (mildly, pleasantly sweet with firm white flesh—my fav so far).  Then out and about for the afternoon.

            Out and about has been…well, Yikes!  There are 8 million people in Xi’an (my hosts say 10 mil) and it seems like there are as many vehicles.  I check my phone’s weather app for the air quality reading and, on most days, it has been in the moderate-to-unhealthy range.  At this writing, the air quality is good, with one pic showing a main “ring” (road) around the city center, and haze in the distance.  It is shot from a pedestrian overpass that I often take to get to the super market (Ren Ren Le) and the aforementioned coffee shop.

Traffic at a calm moment
            There is a hierarchy regarding the traffic, though, so getting places can be tricky.  It seems to me that cars are top dog here, even out-ranking buses.  Cars have the right of way.  No mistaking.  Period.  Drivers often don’t look where they’re going and they certainly don’t give a flying…well, they don’t care if you’re coming at them or not.  They take the path, the lane, the turn and never look back.  I took Kay’s bicycle out for a short trip today (my second such outing) and I rode the brake nearly the whole time.  After cars, and with buses a close second, the scooters (all-electric, no gasoline powered) are next.  I can’t tell you how many times I had to stop for some scooter as it came from the side or from behind me.  Maybe I’m too courteous a driver, but, nahhh…these folks are very aggressive.  I’m amazed that there aren’t more accidents.  In fact, haven’t seen one yet.  After bike riders, pedestrians are at the bottom of the totem pole.  When I walk down sidewalks, on the street near the curb, at intersections, I find myself constantly looking over each shoulder.  It’s possible that a car or scooter or bicycle might come up from behind, honking, telling me to get out of the way.  It’s all very fast-paced, not unlike any big city, though.  New York comes to mind.
First Selfie in China with Tiantian

            In emails to a few of you, I have stated many times how nice everyone has been.  Tiantian, Jianhua, and Juan are terrific.  Tiantian took me to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda—Tong Dynasty; 7th to 10th centuries, A.D.—for a day, which was fascinating, gorgeous.  Tiantian translated some of the history of that dynasty, the players, poets, calligraphers, and explorers.  Jianhua has turned me onto some of the local restaurants along the back street of Xidian University.  I had lunch at Juan’s home with Simon and Leo (remember them?).  She’s a great cook and so far it has been my favorite meal—simply down home, family fare with veggies, rice, tofu, fruit—delicious.
            A new friend named Aks (yes, it sounds like the metathesis of “ask” that we often hear) took me for a ride on the back of his scooter.  We went to Metro, which is a combination of Costco/Sam’s Club/Target.  That ride went beyond Yikes.  It was more like, well… Those of you who know me can finish that sentence.  I was able to buy things like olive oil and Italian pasta, and there are many other “western” items that I’m sure I’ll get into.

            The fall semester doesn’t actually begin until September 1st.  My schedule is odd, but I do remember writing Yanping that I would teach what they want me to teach and when.  So, all day Monday from 8:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m.  And then Fridays from 8:30 until about 12:30 (I think.  I’m still working on understanding the schedule of classes, times, length.) Three of the four classes are the same as what Kay taught—Oral English, Written English, and Newspaper Reading.  The fourth is Literature for graduate students.  That one should be fun.  Four courses, six class periods.  No problem.

            It has now been two weeks.  I can say that I’m fascinated by the people, the culture—what I have seen of it, so far—and how children appear to be the same everywhere.  They laugh, they play, and they seem to be in the moment at all times.  Now, if I can just remember to do that often while I’m here.


Welcome to New EML Faculty

Joining EML this fall are three new full-time teachers: Ms. Claudine Evans begins work as a full-time Instructor of French; Ms. Brooksie Kluge is a full-time Instructor of English; Dr. Marianne Kunkel is Assistant Professor of English and new adviser to Canvas and The Mochila Review.

Born of a Belgian father and a French mother, Claudine Evans is a native of northeastern France.She started her career teaching her primary language and culture to non-francophone professionals, notably in the paper industry.She received a Master’s degree in French as a Second Language from the Université de Strasbourg (Alsace, France), and a Master’s in Education Science with an emphasis on Training and Development from the Université de Rouen (Normandy, France). She has taught at MWSU for a number of years, as a part-time, half-time and temporary full-time instructor. Her interest in assessment led her to become a Certified Oral Proficiency Interview Tester in French with ACTFL, the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. In her free time, Claudine enjoys spending time with her family, reading and cooking. She is always on the lookout for good cheeses, whether imported or local. Although she loves living in Missouri, she does miss the local bakeries and artisanal shops of France.

Brooksie Kluge is from Springfield, Missouri, the hometown of both Brad Pitt and cashew chicken--she likes them both.
She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in English with an emphasis in American Literature from Missouri State University. Her favorite author is Kurt Vonnegut, she listens to way too much CCR, and her hero is Ellen DeGeneres. Some of her recent conference pieces include “The Wife of Job: Interpretations in Modern American Poetry” and “Brats Will Be Princes? Disney’s Approach to the Boy Market.” The latter was inspired by watching endless Disney movies with her three children: Chloe (8), Jake (6), and Calvin (1). Brooksie’s husband, Bradley, is her source of constant laughter and is a painter and freelance greeting card designer.  They are all excited to get to know St. Joseph and are currently taking restaurant recommendations.

Marianne Kunkel is from Auburn, Alabama. She holds a bachelor's degree in English from Auburn University, and MFA in poetry from the University of Florida, and a PhD in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She's the author of the chapbook The Laughing Game (Finishing Line Press), as well as poems that appear in Notre Dame Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, Poet Lore, Columbia Poetry Review, and elsewhere. She's currently circulating a manuscript of poems about girlhood and is working on a new manuscript about the few female characters in The Book of Mormon. She's interned at two university presses and worked as the managing editor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's 87-year-old creative writing journal, Prairie Schooner. She's thrilled to be at Missouri Western, where she'll oversee The Mochila Review and Canvas, and she's lucky that her husband, Dave, agreed to yet another move for her career.
Welcome to our new colleagues!