My World # 17

Bicycles at Tianjin zoo.  Summer, 1987.

Bicycles at Tianjin zoo. Summer, 1987.

The picture above was an important part of my world in the summer of 1987.  To see more of our world, or to join the fun and post your own pictures of your world, click HERE.

As many of you know, I have been to China four times to teach English.  In 1987 I was part of a group of professors from Heidelberg College in Tiffin, Ohio, who went to Tianjin, Peoples Republic of China, to teach English to Chinese professors at Tianjin Normal University.

China was a pretty drab place in 1987.  Many people, men and women, wore dark Mao suits.  There were almost no automobiles on the road even though Tianjin was a city of 7 million people.  Almost every one rode black bicycles.

We found that our Chinese students were quite good at reading English, fairly good at writing English, but very poor at speaking and understanding spoken English.  So much of our teaching involved talking with our students and getting our students to talk to us.

I quickly discovered that my students were much more likely to talk outside the classroom than in.  One of my students got a bicycle for me and we went riding around the city just about every day after class and on weekends.  The picture above was taken at the parking area for the Tianjin zoo.

I know my bicycle is on that lot — it’s a black one.


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27 Responses to “My World # 17”

  1. Louise Cannon Says:

    (Smile!) The black one. Did people tie ribbons on them for identification like they do luggage? Very interesting post!

  2. Alicesg Says:

    I was in Beijing 1986. It was like going into a time machine and transfer me back to the sixties of Singapore but now they have already catch up with the modern world. I went back in 2002 and was surprised Beijing has many high rise apartments.

  3. Carrizo Says:

    Hello George.

    Wow. It was very interesting to read something from Your “past”. I guess that China was interesting in those days. Nowadays when seeing photos from streets in Beijing full with cars, one can ask: “Where have all the bicycles gone?”.

    In my country bicycles are being more popular due to climate preservation and due to that one wants to preserve oneself in good shape.

    Thanks for this interesting blog.


  4. marites Says:

    Just been to China last year and it seems that they still have it easier reading and writing English than speaking tit. Anyway, we went to Beijing last 2005 and the bikes and bike lanes are still there:) Of course, the cars have probably increased compared to year 1987. I just wish I have seen the Bird’s nest in all its glory but it was still under construction and heavily guarded when we tried to get near.

  5. chrome3d Says:

    I sometimes have hard times to find my car at the mall. I just wonder how long it takes to find your own bike there.

  6. Valkyrien Says:

    Hehe – made med laugh there; your black bike! Did it matter which one you took? 🙂
    Interesting to read, as always! Never been to China. In many ways I would like to go and see at least some of the ancient buildings and places. I guess one can travel through China in years, and see only a little part of the country’s history. But talking to Chinese people I do from time to time. In Oslo they have China restaurants all over the city. And most of them never learns how to pronounce “R” – and makes it to “L” – which leads to a number of funny words and sometimes opposite meaning! 🙂

  7. Antigoni Says:

    I like riding a bike. Kids,too. But there are many cars in the street and i’m afraid to take them outside for a ride. So they ride their bikes in our yard.

  8. Grammy Says:

    LOL. Its the black one. I have never seen so many bikes.
    That was a great ideal to get them out to speak more.

  9. jennwashere Says:

    What a great stroll back in time.

    My World welcomes you here. Have a great day!

  10. Kathleen Corbett Says:

    George interesting post.
    You are a world traveller, must have been exciting and rewarding being in China. My younger son and I tried to learn Chinese because his friend Simon wanted us to speak to him in Chinese. Rather difficult language to speak, the writing came easier.

  11. SandyCarlson Says:

    Sounds like it was a wonderful adventure!

  12. Mildred Says:

    I love reading about your time in China – it’s so very interesting. The photo made me laugh out loud.
    Hope you and Betsy have a wonderful day.

  13. JLS Hall Says:

    Great picture! I’d love to see China, although I guess it must be very different today. I’d also love to be able to ride a bike again, but my arthritic knees probably wouldn’t survive the attempt!

  14. Erin Says:

    loved your post…i was able to visit china in the late 1980s and it was very interesting. your post reminds me of my trip there.
    have a wonderful week.

  15. Suzanne Says:

    Wow. There you go again, teaching me something.
    I did not know you went to China…I had no idea about all the black bikes.
    Very interesting. And you are so witty….
    take care,

  16. Mary Says:

    What a wonderful experience that must have been! China sounds like it was a dreary place back then. I think they tried to show us with the Olympics that its changed now. My father always wanted one of us to go to Heidelberg College…how interesting that you taught there.

  17. Fishing Guy Says:

    George: What a neat post of a neat experience from life.

  18. imac Says:

    Very interesting post and pic George, its like parking your car at a huge shopping centre, all red cars together,lol. tie a baloon to it.

  19. Happyone Says:

    Oh my goodness!! I’ve never seen so many bikes in one place!!!

  20. ewok1993 Says:

    Interesting. My girl friend is teaching English in China right now, I think it’s her 5th year there. I’m sure you had a lot of memories.

  21. Susie Says:

    Black one huh? That’s funny George! Neat picture!

  22. Tricia Says:

    China? WoW! Who pays the American teachers to teach over there? That’s really interesting & MUST HAVE BEEN ONE HECK OF AN EXPERIENCE!!!

  23. Carletta Says:

    What wonderful experiences for a teacher George. I had a co-worker who went abroad almost every summer to teach.
    I know your bike was black; but HOW DID you know which one was really yours and how did you tell where you parked it? I’m just shaking my head.

  24. 2sweetnsaxy Says:

    Wow! I’ve never seen so many bikes in my life. Amazing shot.

  25. Indrani Says:

    It was very interesting to read about your personal experience in China. There must be other interesting experiences too, which I hope you will share.

  26. Reader Wil Says:

    Thank you for sharing this part of your life. Yes I also noticed that Chinese cannot speak or pronounce English properly. It stands to reason that non native speakers have accents. I, for instance, shall never lose my Dutch accent, but the Chinese have problems with certain sounds. In Hongkong however I noticed that citizens I met, spoke English properly. No wonder: they were in British hands for such a long time.
    BTW how did you find your bike back?

  27. storyteller Says:

    What a rich & interesting life you’ve led … I enjoy learning more about this part of your life.
    Hugs and blessings,

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