A Year Teaching in China: Background and Reflections

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by Father Rob Carbonneau, C.P.

Father Rob Carbonneau, C.P.: at the front gate of Sichuan
International Studies University (SISU), Spring 2008

The essays in this section describe the unique teaching experience of Father Rob Carbonneau, C.P., Ph.D. in China from August 2007 to July 2008.

Father Rob took leave of his position as historian and director of the Passionist Historical Archives in Union City, New Jersey to work with the AITECE (Association for International Teaching Educational and Curriculum Exchange) program. This well-respected organization is an independent, non-profit organization which sponsors foreign teachers and experts wishing to work in China. It likewise facilitates Chinese educational institutes recruiting foreign teachers and experts. Its goal is to contribute to the modernization of China, especially through the exchange of personnel, and to promote international understanding and friendship. AITECE is based in Hong Kong and has national offices in Europe, North America, Australia and South-East Asia. (www.aitece.com)

After sending in his resume AITECE was able to contact and place Father Rob at Sichuan International Studies University (SISU) in Chongqing, China. People might remember this as Chungking. It was the capital of China during the Anti-Japanese War (1937-1945) and home to General Joseph W. “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell and the Flying Tigers.

Father Rob served as a foreign expert in the English Department. In the fall 2007 semester he taught International Relations “hot topics” to about 80 students; U.S. History and Culture with one class on modern Canadian, English, and Australian history to about 150 students. He also taught Spoken English to five sections of freshmen- about 25 students per section. All the above classes were taught in English.

In the spring 2008 semester Father Rob taught six sections of Spoken English and was asked to do special lectures sponsored by the English Department. Lecture topics included: “Who Will Be the Next President of the United States” and “What Is the American Dream.” Also the School of International Business asked him to lecture on “Famous American Business Leaders of the 20th Century” and “How to Seek World Knowledge.” An off campus lecture was given at Third Military Medical University in Chongqing on “American Culture and Heath Care.”

Twice he was interviewed on the SISU TV station. First he reflected on his SISU teaching experience, and second he spoke on his reaction to the May 12, 2008 earthquake. This was felt throughout Chongqing. On the SISU campus, classrooms had to be evacuated but luckily there were no injuries and minor damage, though aftershocks were a problem.

Father Rob was able to associate and celebrate liturgies with other AITECE teachers in Chongqing. He also got the opportunity to meet the local Catholic Church leaders and worship regularly at the historic St. Joseph’s Church in JieFangbei, Chongqing. On several occasions he was able to visit the historic gravesite of missionary to China Father Vincent Lebbe, C.M., who is buried on GeLeShan mountain behind the SISU campus. Finally, he was able to develop a working relationship with historians at the Hongyan Historic Sites in Chongqing. They promote Chinese historical understanding during the Anti-Japanese War.