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          position: EnglishChannel > Experts in China > Article

          Seeing China through Unbiased Lens

          Source: Science and Technology Daily | 2022-07-21 09:36:12 | Author: LONG?Yun?&?FANG?Linlin

          Professor Thomas Moran. (COURTESY PHOTO)

          By LONG Yun & FANG Linlin

          Thomas Moran, an American teacher and writer, arrived in China eleven years ago with apprehension. His original perception of China from Western media and magazines was shattered after he encountered the friendliness, generosity and diversity of the Chinese.

          However,  his  understanding of China extends far beyond these observations. Moran told Science and Technology Daily recently, "I am a capitalist, a democrat. I believe in the American form of government. However, that is not to say I cannot admire what other cultures do and what China has done, in particular, during the last 30 years."

          A "content teacher" at JNU

          Moran has been an English professor at Jinan University (JNU) since 2011. It is easy to see why his classes are popular with students since he considers himself a "content teacher," which means that students will embrace a perfect combination of gaining knowledge and essential skills of concern to young adults while they learn English.

          "Learning is not like filling a bucket with water but lighting a fire in your heart. Come to Jinan University and see how brightly you can burn," said Moran. In his classes, students acquire skills through encouragement and active interaction. He said that, "Each of his students is a precious source of information and experience that is unique. I want them to see themselves that way, too."

          For over a decade, Moran has been a witness to the development of JNU. From his perspective, JNU "has become far more sophisticated and accomplished." He drew specific attention to the improvement of teaching resources and the quality of education, along with the well-designed instructional system.

          In addition, he applauded China's advantage in basic education, adding that students in China gain a body of knowledge through teacher-centered teaching modes through secondary school, which lays a solid foundation for future learning. However, as a foreign teacher, he asserts that Chinese universities should be less teacher-centered and that more student involvement is advised to unleash students' creativity.

          His contribution to JNU is not only limited to the campus. As a faculty member, especially as a foreign expert, he believes he owes the university and community efforts beyond the classroom. Therefore, he volunteers for a range of extracurricular activities.

          Opening-up and diversity

          Moran speaks highly of China's opening-up and reform. Choosing JNU because of the possibilities and improvements "opening-up" created in Guangdong,  he was impressed how China embraces diverse languages and cultures by establishing bi-lingual signs and recruiting international teachers, a practice that is uncommon in the United States.

          Looking  into  the  future, this American believes by continuing on the road of openness, "China will be the most powerful nation on Earth during your life-time". He described the Greater Bay Area initiative as a "genius" strategy to transform the region from a global manufacturing factory to a financial and innovation center.

          Moran cautions that China should never cease opening its minds and institutions to the rest of the world, as the past 30 years has proven that collecting good ideas from everywhere can only make China stronger.

          Respecting differences

          The combination of Moran's distinctive identity as an expat, and his keen observations, led him to recognize that the fundamental features which animate and distinguish Chinese culture are only different from those of the West, not a matter of being better or worse. He loves the difference.

          He values mutual respect in cultural differences. As an international cultural bridge, Moran encourages his Western friends to visit China and, when they do, to respect the culture that China has created over millennia. "I tell foreigners who come to China, to please spend enough time to learn about it, respect it, and you will come to love it," he said.

          He also offered some helpful suggestions to us for effective international communication between China and the rest of the world. According to Moran, most Westerners, such as himself, admire the indirectness and subtlety which historically characterizes communication in the Chinese language. He advises when communicating with international audiences, writers or reporters in China should avoid formalism and repetitive writing styles.

          This article is also contributed by Jinan University.

          Editor: 畢煒梓

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