Encouraging progress has been made in education in GDUFS during 2019 with the effort of both Chinese and Foreign teachers. Participation in scientific, cultural and educational events provide these foreigners chances to build the school’s international business as well as gaining success in their own careers. The following are articles presenting two foreign teachers and their stories with GDUFS.
Stephen J. Rake: 15 Years at GDUFS
Mr. Rake and his students
Mr. Rake arrived at the old airport in Guangzhou to start a new chapter in his life and career at 2004. He was to be in charge of a newly franchised degree to be offered to undergraduate students at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies in co-operation with an English university. The position involved a heavy burden of responsibility and although he had taught Chinese students previously at the Universities of Birmingham and Loughborough, it was the first time he had ever set foot in China, indeed the Far East as a whole. Albeit with plenty of bumps along the way, it seems that he needn’t have worried so much, because, in a way that has rather defied his own expectations, more than 15 years later, he is still here.
In terms of his professional life, the afore-mentioned enjoyment stems principally from two factors: firstly, the great variety of interesting courses that he has had the opportunity to teach at GDUFS and beyond; secondly, the relationship with his students.
His teaching background is in organisational behaviour. However, in his time here he has also lectured in courses in other management-related subjects, such as leadership, the principles of management, HRM and marketing. But what has been equally interesting to him has been to instruct other types of courses from outside of the business field, such as British and American literature, public speaking and the history and culture of English-speaking nations. Perhaps he is not a conventional university lecturer due to the highly eclectic nature of his professional activities (in addition to teaching a wide variety of subjects, he has also written journal articles on contemporary Chinese literature and presented at symposia and conferences on diverse themes, such as those related to political or social programmes or concerning teaching pedagogy), but he has found his versatility to be a source of happiness, as well as a useful asset.
His encounters with students, whether they are full-timers or part-time business people, have nearly always been very positive. Teaching part-time at the MBA Centre and the Institute of International Education at GDUFS has led him to have many classes with diverse cohorts from all over the globe. Such circumstances make the classroom into incubators for a kaleidoscope of cultural views, leading to very interesting class discussions and presentations. But it was his relationship with his Chinese students in the undergraduate and masters’ programmes at the School of Interpreting and Social Studies, the school to which he was attached, that has given him the greatest professional enjoyment during his time in China. Chinese students, with their respectfulness, diligence and helpfulness are every teacher’s joy to teach.
His time at GDUFS has been beneficial for not just his life but his career. His achievements include promotion to Assistant Professor in 2014 and receiving the great honour of International Model Teacher awards in 2016, 2018 and 2019. But as important as these achievements are to him, two factors have trumped progression at work in his reckoning. The first is that he really enjoys life here, especially his professional life in Guangzhou; the second is that he started a family here. Just as he mentioned, “it has been a wonderful time for my wife, WANG Jianhong, and I, to raise our beautiful daughter, and to see our little golden piggy develop into the confident and capable girl soon to enter teenage-hood.”
Katarzyna Borek：Music connects me with GDUFS
Katarzyna performing the piano
Katarzyna Borek comes from Poland and works at the College of Arts at GDUFS. She is a concert pianist and has been teaching piano for years. She graduated from the Music Academy in Bydgoszcz in Poland and the Royal Conservatory in Brussels, Belgium. From then on she has been performing concerts as a pianist and as a member of many chamber music groups in Europe, South America and Asia. As a talented pianist and a passionate teacher, Katarzyna involves her life into music. Music is also the bridge connecting her with GDUFS.
Katarzyna came to China in 2010 for the first time. Between 2010 and 2018 she came to China several times, having been invited to perform concerts and master-classes in several Chinese music conservatories. It was in 2018 that Katarzyna was invited to lead piano master-classes for the first time at the College of Art, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. From then on she began her time with GDUFS. She mentioned that it was a great experience for her to meet with students of College of Art and with music and art community in Guangzhou. Because of the joy and desire to teaching music with these lovely students, she later started working at the College of Art at GDUFS in March 2019.
As a teacher and a pianist, Katarzyna believes in a ‘non-verbal’ approach to music. However, during her teaching, she found it extremely demanding to teach classical piano in China, which has very different traditions and musical traditions from the west. She teaches her students the western musical alphabet and the historical background of some pieces so they can have some idea about some circumstances in which the pieces was composed. She also teaches them how to use the classical musical alphabet as tools so the students can express themselves better through playing these cross-cultural compositions. Like she has said, “Music is the language that can really connect people regardless of their origin and different cultural backgrounds. Music is a science, music is mathematical, music is history. It is also a physical education; it develops insight and demands research. Music is all these things, but most of all, it is Art.”
During the past year of teaching, Katarzyna performed several times for different occasions, including a concert with an outstanding Chinese violinist LIU Weipeng. Also, she welcomes everyone to attend concerts and enjoy different kinds of music, shows and exhibitions. On the early December, Katarzyna led her students from the College of Art to participate in a very interesting poetry event organized by the Polish Faculty of GDUFS and held at the Guangzhou Library. There, she and her students performed between the emotional recitation of Polish poetry, combining melodious music and Polish literature for a special guest: Mr Michał Rusinek, a Polish writer, actor and the former secretary of Wisława Szymborska (the Polish Nobel Prize winner in literature). She said, “It was really nice to watch my piano students performing on stage together with Polish language students from our university.” This was a unique and meaningful experience for her, which made her proud of her students, her job, and her country.
Working in GDUFS also enables Katarzyna the possibility of learning more about Chinese traditional music, and, through expanding her horizons, music as a whole. She hopes to co-create as many music projects as possible with musicians performing traditional Chinese music, among which she is most interesting in Guzheng and Guqin, the two traditional musical instruments.
In the coming year, Katarzyna will mediate in building relations between College of Art of GDUFS and Art Universities in Poland. She hopes to contribute more cooperation and exchange in the future.