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What Chinese Students Told Me

posted: 3.28.13 by Andrea Lunsford

Flying in to Beijing from San Francisco, I wondered what I would encounter at Beihang University.  I had been invited to visit this large university in the fall of 2012 but had to postpone the trip because of back surgery.  I had hoped to learn a lot more about the university and its students in the months I gained by the postponement, but little information was forthcoming.  What I knew was that the College of Foreign Languages at Beihang has a new Department of Rhetoric and Communication and that the Dean, whose Ph.D. is in linguistics from Carnegie Mellon, wanted some U.S. scholars to visit to help establish the new department.  I was very excited about the visit, but also intimidated by the news that they wanted me to deliver two 2-hour lectures every day of the visit–and by the fact that I didn’t know my audience, a big problem to one who preaches the necessity of audience awareness!

Greeting me at the airport were two graduate students who shepherded me to the Beihang Training Center, the hotel on campus where I was staying.  Soon after, we joined a group for a quick supper in the dining hall, and then I was grateful to be able to go to bed.  The next day was my first lecture, this one to 600 first- and second-year students on why I believe rhetoric and argument are necessary to all of us today.  [read more]

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