China / Regions

When in Wuxi, do as the Wuxiers do

By Jiang Luying ( Updated: 2015-09-23 16:56

When in Wuxi, do as the Wuxiers do

Fred Voelkel, Center Principal at Jiangsu Tianyi High School [Photo provided to]

"Fred Voelkel is a son-in-law of Wuxi," his assistant Gu Shiyao told reporters, leading us to his office on Sept 17.

Voelkel, from Portland in the United States, is the Center Principal at Jiangsu Tianyi High School, a national exemplary school approved by the Education Commission of Jiangsu Province.

Voelkel has degrees in international studies, Spanish and education. He has been involved in international education since he came to Wuxi in 2005.

"My one-year experience in Argentina aroused my interest in international education," Voelkel said, adding that he recognized the significance of cultural exchange and diversity.

"I lived my whole life within an American culture before that, while the experience in Argentina showed me another view."

When in Wuxi, do as the Wuxiers do

Voelkel in class [Photo provided to]

Voelkel came to Wuxi by accident.

"Actually I didn't know Wuxi. One of my friends in Wuxi introduced the city to me, so I took a chance to come here. Once I arrived, I just planned to stay for a little bit to see a new place and learn new culture."

He didn't expect that he would stay in the city for years and even marry a Wuxi girl. Now they have two children, one in Wuxi and the other in the US.

"I visited Suzhou and Shanghai, they are nice cities. However, foreigners there still retain the Western lifestyle. I don't think it's the real way to learn about a new place and to experience the local life. So those cities are not very attractive to me," Voelkel said.

Voelkel said he likes outdoor activities to exercise and appreciate the scenery.

He cycles 25 kilometers every day to the school. On weekends, he rides to the beautiful Lingshan Grand Buddha.

In addition, he always runs, hikes and camps during spare time. "Just like yesterday, I ran around the Huishan Hill after work."

He also attended the Wuxi International Marathon two years ago and Shanghai International Marathon last year. Now, he is preparing for next year's marathon in Wuxi.

When it came to food, Voelkel said that fried gluten puffs and sauced spare ribs are his favorite dishes, which he even cooks for his friends.

He also brought fried gluten puffs to the US for his parents and friends.

When in Wuxi, do as the Wuxiers do

Voelkel and his students [Photo provided to]

At work, Voelkel won praise from his colleagues, students and their parents for his professional dedication and innovation.

In addition to eight classes a week of oral English and listening, Voelkel explored the curriculum reform of Tianyi's international department.

For example, he introduced 15 Advanced Placement courses, such as economics, psychology, art and music composition, to provide students with more choices.

Meanwhile, he strives to spread Chinese culture when receiving admissions officers and travelling abroad.

On Voelkel's recommendation, two students were admitted to Stanford University, one to Chicago University and five to the University of California, Berkeley, this year.

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