Former educators described the experiences they shared while living and teaching in one of the five remaining communist nations.
Allen and Loni Hackworth were two of 74 professors from across the U.S. to teach English in Chinese universities through the China Teachers Program sponsored by Brigham Young University. The couple lived in Guangzhou, China, the third largest city in the nation, and taught English to freshmen and sophomores at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies.
“How did I like living in a communist country?” Allen Hackworth asked himself. “I found it interesting, and I liked living in their world.”
Allen Hackworth spoke about the differences between China and the United States. The government, for example, was swift with road projects and criminal punishments, he said.
“I thought it was interesting to be in a country where you couldn’t speak about religion,” Allen Hackworth said. “When you meet somebody, you deal with them on a person-to-person basis, but you never talk about [the] issues of religion.”
The former professor shared with the audience the beauty of China through pictures and stories, talking about the refinement of the nation’s art and the “innocent and childlike” students.
“I was impressed, but I didn’t like my loss of freedom,” Allen Hackworth said. “I did feel free in a lot of ways, but intellectually you are observed.”
He talked about instances where his computer would be looked through and how he would rebel in small ways. It was the little things that bothered him and made him miss his “American freedom,” he said.
Loni Hackworth embraced the culture and earned the annual award for “teacher of the year” where she received a cash reward.
“It was a grand adventure every step of the way,” Loni Hackworth said.
While living in China they stayed close to the elementary school and would walk past almost every day, Loni Hackworth said.
“[The children] loved to say hello to us,” Loni Hackworth said. “[This little girl] smiled at us and said ‘hello.’ And I want to tell you it was probably 100 degrees outside, my hair was stuck to my head… and she said ‘you’re beautiful.’”
Allen Hackworth taught English composition, literature and guitar at Ricks College for 33 years before retiring in 2002. The school was renamed BYU-Idaho before he retired. Loni Hackworth also taught at Ricks College before earning a permanent position as a public school teacher.
“It was really interesting to not only hear the differences between China and America, but also to see them,” said Tara Dooley, a sophomore psychology major from West Jordan. “At the end of the day, though, it helped me to see the beauty of both cultures and appreciate where I live.”
Both educators belong to the President’s Colleagues of Dixie State University. Former DSU president Douglas Adler founded the program to create a group for retired professors and other industry professionals, most of whom live in Washington County.
There will be another President’s Colleagues meeting in February where Hugh Cannon will present a lecture titled “How Do College Students Learn?”