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When Mary Anne Hoskins thinks of the weeks she spent teaching at the Summer English Camp at Tsinghua University in Beijing last year, she sees the Great Wall of China.
"It's unbelievable," she said, "that image of it snaking to the horizon."
In 2005, faculty, staff and students from the University of Tennessee assisted with the camp —the largest of its kind in the world—where upwards of 3,200 freshman Chinese students took part in an intensive three-week English learning experience.
Another group of UT representatives will go to Tsinghua this summer. Tentative dates for the camp are June 30-July 21.
Hoskins always has had a passion for traveling and learning about other cultures. After graduating from UT in 1979, she got a job teaching special education, but spent her summers working as an au pair in France and taking youth to New Zealand, Brazil and France through the Children's International Summer Villages program.
"But I had never been to Asia," she said. So when she heard of the Tsinghua University program, she jumped at it.
To help the Chinese students learn English, she talked about the Great Smoky Mountains, fitness, and about Lady Vols Coach Pat Summitt and the players she's sent to the Olympic Games. She helped with small group discussions and other educational exercises.
Teaching the Chinese students, touring around the Beijing area and learning a new culture —the whole experience was amazing, she said, but there are certain images she'll never forget.
She can still see the 3,200 Chinese freshmen, dressed in green, red, white and yellow T-shirts, lined up waiting for classes to begin.
She remembers a foray to Tiananmen Square when she ventured onto a side street of markets and eateries. "I was just stopped in my tracks by the colors. It was sensory overload," she said.
Just as the Great Wall—perhaps the most memorable image of her trip—seemed to go on forever, Hoskins sees her experience in China continuing to weave its way through her life and work.
She recalls coming home and running into a longtime colleague, who is from China, and realizing she'd never taken the time to really get to know him. Suddenly she had dozens of questions she wanted to ask him.
"I'm so much more aware of a whole continent of people. It makes me want to engage them in conversation. Where are you from? What made you come to UT?"