►Daily Life in Hefei, China
English Language Fellow Dani Francuz Rose begins her day in Hefei, China, by drinking a few cups of tea. “My husband and I have a list of the most famous regional teas from around China, and we’re slowly making our way through tasting them all,” she explains. Since Francuz Rose and her husband live on the campus of Anhui University, many of her routines take place within the community. For lunch, she usually eats at one of the school canteens. “There are so many of them each with hundreds of dishes to try, so I have yet to get tired of anything! My favorite is the Niurou Banmian (beef noodles with soy sauce),” she describes.
There is much to do and see beyond enjoying delicious foods in the capital city of Anhui Province, which lies between the Yangtze and Huaihe Rivers. The beautiful Emerald Lake is located just off campus, where Francuz Rose likes to walk when the weather is nice. “As far as free time goes, I love exploring our city – I call it urban hiking,” Francuz Rose shares. “Many Hefei natives are surprised that I’ve seen more of the city’s neighborhoods and attractions than they have!” she adds. In addition to exploring Hefei, Francuz Rose loves learning to play traditional Chinese games like Mahjong and Go. She is also a member of the English teacher badminton team.
► Increasing English Language Proficiency
Francuz Rose’s primary duties as a Fellow in China involve teaching junior-level university courses to English majors at Anhui University. Francuz Rose teaches public speaking and debate, critical thinking and writing, and English stylistics courses to over 120 students each week. In addition to university teaching, Dani is also involved in teacher-training events such as facilitating Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and other professional development opportunities, setting up and participating in local seminars, and traveling to other universities in China (and sometimes abroad) to share interactive and practical teaching workshops. Francuz Rose also leads a conversation club every other week and invites students from any major to practice their speaking skills and learn more about American culture and education. “Anhui is one of the poorest provinces in China, and not a lot of attention, especially from foreigners, is paid to the students and teachers here,” Francuz Rose explains. “They’re working at a disadvantage from the start in arguably the world’s most competitive market, so I feel like any leverage or additional support I can give is extremely appreciated and goes a long way.”
► Organizing Anhui Province’s 1st Annual English Language Teaching Forum
One of the highlights of Francuz Rose’s fellowship has been organizing and implementing Anhui Province’s 1st Annual English Language Teaching Forum. “When I arrived at Anhui University, the teachers told me it had been 20 years since they had received a proper professional development event there, so I made that my mission,” Francuz Rose explains.
At first, Francuz Rose started small by providing MOOCs and American English webinar viewings, but eventually, she gained the momentum and support to begin planning a conference. Through discussions with colleagues, Francuz Rose decided that the event should be open to teachers from universities across the Anhui province so that teachers with minimal professional development opportunities could attend and create a community of practice. With a lot of hard work and collaboration with her RELO, colleagues from her host institution, and several local friends, the first English forum in the province was held in December 2018. Over 200 teachers attended from 18 different institutions. “It was definitely a proud moment for me and my host institution,” Francuz Rose states.
► Learning to Make Traditional Chinese Dumplings
Another one of Francuz Rose’s favorite experiences has been learning to make traditional Chinese dumplings from scratch. “For many holidays here, families come together to make thousands of dumplings, which I love to eat,” she explains. “Very happily, some graduate student friends of mine offered to teach my husband and me how to make traditional dumplings: the fillings, the wrappers, everything!” First, Francuz Rose enjoyed going to the market to get the ingredients and asked questions about the variety of foods she had never seen before. Then, Francuz Rose and her friends worked together to chop, mix, fill, and boil the dumplings, after which a grand meal took place. “It made me feel like part of a centuries-old tradition, and it’s something I’ll definitely never forget!” she exclaims.
►Lasting Memories and the Road Ahead
After completing her fellowship, Francuz Rose plans to continue living abroad. “So many of the skills and knowledge I’ve picked up and practiced through the fellowship will help me wherever I end up next. I really feel I’ve developed a sense of professional accomplishment…I also think the freedom to create and complete secondary projects entirely on my own has developed a new sense of determination and creativity, which I hope to take with me into the future,” she shares.
Francuz Rose explains that the most meaningful aspect of her fellowship has been the connections she has made with teachers and students, not only on a professional level, but personally as well. She states, “I truly feel that I’m making lifelong connections both within the Fellow family and through the people I’ve met at my host institution.”
Dani Francuz Rose’s journey as an English language teacher began in pharmacy school when she was assigned to be a language partner to an international student wanting to study in the United States. After learning more about these students and their education, Francuz Rose changed her major from Pharmacy to Applied Linguistics and never looked back. Francuz Rose received a TEFL certificate, a BA, and an MA in Applied Linguistics from Georgia State University (GSU), while simultaneously teaching in Intensive English Programs at GSU and Mercer University. Less than a year after graduating with her MA, Francuz Rose became a Fulbright ETA at the University of Lodz in Poland where she got her first taste of EFL teaching and learned of the Fellow program. In between Fulbright and her fellowship, Francuz Rose was an ESL Instructor at Kennesaw State University just north of Atlanta, GA. Francuz Rose loves teaching English and Applied Linguistics, being involved in student activities, and immersing herself in new cultures and contexts.