Dr. Bonnie Woodbery (center), an Associate Professor of English at Thomas University, poses with students in that she taught this summer at Jiangxi University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Jiangxi Province close to the city of Nanchang.
An unexpected teaching opportunity in China
Dr. Bonnie Woodbery, an Associate Professor of English at Thomas University, was excited to visit China as part of an eight-day study abroad trip with TU nursing students and nursing faculty members starting May 9. Little did she know that her eight-day trip would include an extra three weeks.
During the study abroad portion of the trip, Woodbery and the rest of the group visited Chinese landmarks and healthcare facilities. In Beijing, they toured Tiananmen Square and the Great Wall of China. In Lintong, Xian, Shaanxi Province, the group visited Emperor Qin Shi Huang's Mausoleum which includes the ancient terra cotta warriors. They also visited the bustling city of Shanghai.
After the study abroad trip, one nursing faculty member had planned to remain in China to teach a three-week course. When the professor became ill and had to return home, Woodbery stepped in to teach the course.
Woodbery made her way to Jiangxi University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Jiangxi Province close to the city of Nanchang. At TU in the U.S., she teaches courses in English and the Humanities, so Woodbery was ideally suited to teach a course that prepared 85 sophomore students for the Thomas University RN-BSN courses they will start this fall in the partnership program between TU and JUTCM. The course at JUTCM focused on writing, using and documenting English sources, and engaging in collaborative learning.
Thomas University has three RN-BSN cooperation program partnerships approved by the Chinese Central Government; only six American programs have ever received such high-level approval. Students are enrolled in JUTCM’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program while they begin taking TU Nursing courses. After they graduate from JUTCM and earn their Chinese Registered Nurse license, they complete their RN-BSN coursework with TU to acquire an American BSN as well. Woodbery’s class was the first group of students to begin taking the TU courses as part of preparation for the program this fall.
While Woodbery was familiar with the concepts she taught to her students at JUTCM, she had to become accustomed to living in an entirely different culture and environment.
Woodbery also had to become acclimated to the food and teaching on a very large university campus. Two students from each class volunteered to serve as hosts to Woodbery. Each day one of the students would stop by Woodbery’s apartment and join her in the walk to the classroom building. The students also shared some of their favorite foods with Woodbery so that she could experience local cuisine.
Woodbery’s favorite part of the experience was getting to know the students in her classes.
“The students were just incredible,” she said. “They see education as a privilege, not as a right. They work very hard, and there was not a lot of down time for them. Nursing is one of the more difficult majors, but they were always enthusiastic. I felt very honored to have the opportunity to teach them.”
Even after class was over, Woodbery often had students who stayed behind to talk, looking forward to the opportunity to improve their conversational English skills.
“They were very committed to school,” she said. “They’re there to learn and work as hard as they can. It’s great to teach students like that who are so eager to learn. If those students represent the country of China, then China has a great future in store.”