Knowledge on the Home Front

Trip Start Aug 25, 2010
Trip End Jun 29, 2011

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Flag of China  , Jiangsu Sheng,
Monday, March 28, 2011

During my second class today, I chatted with some of my students during the ten minute break.  These students are a group of girls who always sit in the front row, and I consider them pretty smart and competent.

Today, I told them that in June, I plan to take a train west to Sichuan and Gansu.  They thought the idea of a vacation to Sichuan was a good one, but they told me Gansu would be too far away and warned me against trying to get there.  

I told them it wouldn't be a problem because we'd just take an overnight train.  But they insisted that Sichuan was in the middle and south of China and that Gansu was in the far northwest, and that the two provinces were too far apart to attempt to visit in one vacation.  I was shocked and confused.  Sichuan and Gansu aren't far apart.  In fact, they share a border.  

I told my students this and they didn't believe me, so I pulled up a map of China on the internet.  Indeed, Sichuan and Gansu were right where they were supposed to be.  Their border is in the direct center of China.  Neither province is in the south or the far northwest, as my students thought.  Upon studying the map, my students looked as shocked and confused as I had been a moment before.

If they don't know Chinese geography, I'm not sure how I'm supposed to teach them anything about the US or the West. 

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