Opening China to Earlham — or Vice Versa?

March 31, 2011

Last evening I had dinner with Gerry Cooper (’66) and a group of faculty members who had all travelled to China this past summer courtesy of a gift from Gerry and his wife Gloria (’62) who recently passed away.  The purpose of the trip was to begin Earlham’s engagement with China — to begin to make it part of the education we offer.  Oddly (or no?), our close and deep relationships with Japan have led us away from China — until Gerry and Gloria’s gift.

The dinner was an opportunity for the faculty who went on the trip to tell Gerry about the experience, and for Gerry to reflect a bit on his time in China.  Gerry had a long career with Stanley Tool, and it was via Stanley that he firtst went to Taiwan and China.  At first he continued working for Stanley, but later he created his own business, one that now involves his sons as well.  Gerry explained that he had started to learn Mandarin in his 40s.

He delighted in hearing the faculty who were there talk about their several weeks in China.  They talked about what they had learned, and they talked about how China was now finding a place in the courses they teach.  As each talked, Gerry would occasionally interject stories from his own experience with China: parallel experiences, or glimpses of China from two or three decades ago.  He was visibly delighted in what he heard.

At the end of dinner, some of the faculty served us tea — unusual teas from China.

This coming summer, Gerry will help some Earlham faculty, and now some students, too, begin their encounters and engagements with China.  We are very grateful for his generosity.

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About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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