Witnessing educational progress in Guangdong
Following a brief visit to China in 1987 it was my dream to someday return. Traveling the length and breadth of the country felt like an impossible dream then. However, in 1992 an opportunity to come back materialized. Not for a few weeks' adventure, but to live and work for a year in Guangzhou, capital city of southern China's Guangdong province. This was initially a dilemma, for my travels were always an escape from work. I had built up much in my native Scotland and was reluctant to be away so long from family and friends. I knew if I agreed, life surely would never be the same. What transpired, of course, was a unique opportunity to experience much about a country normal travel could never have provided. I would come close to society; to be part of a system at that time so different to my norm; to work and socialize with so many people from different backgrounds.
Still a little apprehensive as I travelled by train to Guangzhou from Hong Kong, the welcome I received from a group of future colleagues at the station was overwhelming. I thought, "I am going to enjoy this!" There I was, being taken in the school's minibus out to the suburbs before turning onto a campus more resembling a tropical garden. It was beautiful - the inaugural reception dinner, the toasts, the laughter, the camaraderie. I was grinning. Indeed, my students would often ask, "Bruce why are you always smiling?" What else could I say?