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Pacific Lutheran University alumni, parents and friends are invited to attend PLU Alumni College 2006, as we travel to the renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Nestled in a beautiful southern Oregon valley, the festival has been a rich and rewarding experience for those whose love of fine theater parallels their love of beautiful surroundings.

“Well done, well planned. I’m going to suggest it to other alumni. I had always thought it was for retired folks, so I was surprised and pleased to see the variety of ages.” – Paula Faas ’02

“Fabulous job! You are so organized and everything went so smoothly. The whole experience was just wonderful. We really enjoyed meeting all the great people, the plays, lectures by OSF actors and the PLU staff, and our backstage tour. We’re looking forward to traveling with you again.” – Jean Kinnamen ’86 and Kelly Kinnamen ’02.

You’ll leave on Friday morning, July 7, and travel in style on a deluxe coach bus, fully equipped with air conditioning and televisions. In Ashland, you’ll stay at the Plaza Inn Suites. This new hotel is in the heart of downtown Ashland and features room amenities, fitness center and hospitality with a complimentary continental breakfast.

Experience the magic of four plays: “Merry Wives of Windsor,” “The Importance of Being Ernest,” “Cyrano de Bergerac” and your choice between William Inge’s “Bus Stop” or “The Diary of Anne Frank.” There will also be an opportunity for a backstage tour and a dramaturge (lecture/presentation) to our group by a company member.

In addition, PLU theater alum Eric Melver ’96, assistant director of alumni and parent relations, will lead group discussions. We will return to PLU on Monday, July 10.

The cost of this trip is $625 per person for double occupancy ($825 single occupancy). This price includes transportation to and from PLU, three nights lodging, four theatre performances, backstage tour and lecture, as well as a special dinner with the whole group. Space is limited — make your reservation by May 31 by returning the reservation form.

We hope you will be able to join us for this educational and thrilling adventure!

Global initiatives reach beyond students

The Alumni and Parent Relations office has announced a trip for alumni, parents and friends that parallels the 2007 Choir of the West and University Symphony Orchestra performance tour of Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. The dates are subject to change, but will fall between the last week of May and the second week of June 2007. A similar tour took Lutes to Norway in 2001 and was a fantastic experience for all those involved. We invite you to join us as we embrace the university’s global initiatives and travel to Central Europe. For more information, contact the Alumni and Parent Relations office.

Students and recent alumni partner on career mentoring event

Together the Student Alumni Association (SAA) and PLU GOLD (Graduates of the Last Decade) will sponsor the third annual Tables for Eight career brunch on Sunday, April 2. This is an opportunity for alumni to share information about the working world with seniors starting the job hunt and other Lutes interested in discussing this topic. To participate in Tables for Eight or to serve as a career mentor, please contact SAA at, PLU GOLD at or the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations.


Best of Scene

Touring and teaching English in China

Jennifer Newman ’00 shares her experiences on a service holiday in China.

One afternoon, while pondering how to spend the summer between graduation from PLU and the start of graduate school, I impulsively decided to join a group of American volunteers teaching English in China.

Jennifer Newmanís third-grade classroom in Shanghi filled with shouts of "Teacher! Teacher!"

Although I’d worked as a tutor and camp counselor, I’d never taken any education classes, and I had no idea how to say even “hello” in Chinese. But, as neither formal teaching experience nor Chinese fluency was required, it sounded like an excellent adventure.

The trip began with five days touring in and around Shanghai, including stops in several small towns of more than a million. We toured silk, pearl, and carpet factories, strolled through gardens where ponds teemed with koi and lotus blossoms, and sipped steaming glasses of fragrant green tea.

During these first few days, I felt as if I had stepped into a postcard – everything was intensely beautiful, a continuous feast for all the senses. Still, two days of touring is plenty, and I was eager to reach the school and meet the kids I’d be working with for the next two weeks.

My excitement was short lived. After dumping my bags at the dorm and poking at a questionable cafeteria lunch, I stood watching the hustle and bustle of fellow volunteers meeting the Chinese teachers and decorating their classrooms.

Blinking fiercely, I slipped on a pair of sunglasses to hide the tears that suddenly threatened to spill over. What had I been thinking? I wasn’t a teacher – I’d majored in writing and political science – and yet here I was, loaded with crayons and picture books, a day away from becoming the instructor of 16 third-graders. Knowing they’d see through me instantly, I went to bed that evening praying the next two weeks would pass quickly.

The next day, my anxiety vanished when I opened my classroom door and found a group of kids bouncing around in matching orange shirts. As soon as they saw me they burst into a chorus of “Teacher! Teacher!” and sprang towards me.

I soon learned that this was the first time many of my students had encountered a native English speaker, let alone an American. I instantly became a human petting zoo, and the fascinated children giggled and crowded around me to touch my blonde hair and pale skin. By the end of our first 45-minute class, I was ready to take them all home with me.

I quickly learned that my kids, just like any American third-graders, were not fond of being quiet. I also found that my prepared lesson plans would have to be redone to accommodate their third-grade English skills. What became most apparent, however, was that I’d have to recall my own experience of being 10 years old and base my teaching on that.

To their extreme delight, with each English vocabulary lesson I’d ask them to teach me the Chinese equivalent and bumble my way through, after which they’d burst into proud applause. In this way, I hoped to show them that despite our respective positions as teacher and student, they had as much to show me as I did them.

This mutual learning continued on my visits into town, where Chinese teenagers eager for a chance to practice their English would often engage us in conversation, and roadside venders would smilingly attempt to entice me to buy their freshly cut fruits and local snacks.

Unlike my previous experiences abroad in which I’d felt irritatingly excluded from the culture, I felt that the people we met in China were welcoming and their curiosity was full of respect. Though they were anxious to hear us speak English and to learn about the United States, they were equally intent that we should learn to appreciate China.

By the end of our three weeks, my trip to China had changed from something I’d figured would be a one-time experience, to work I could easily see myself doing full-time in the future.

Besides the opportunity to play teacher to an adorable group of kids, I’d gotten to see China – albeit a very small piece of it – from the inside out. Granted, not all of this discovery had been delightful: the nearly 100 percent humidity had me wishing I could hold class in the swimming pool, and seeing another teacher eat a part of a chicken I didn’t know could be eaten left me on a diet of PB&J for the rest of the trip. Yet the heat and culinary adventures were well worth the overall experience.

Through teaching I gained a new appreciation for the ability to be flexible and think on my feet, I learned that smiling would more than make up for not knowing Chinese, and I ensured that I’d be starting grad school with “Do you know the Muffin Man?” stuck in my head. Perhaps most importantly, I’d experienced a country unlike any other I’d previously visited and come a bit further on my way to understanding our world. I can’t wait to do it again.

Service holiday opportunity to tour and teach in China

Jennifer Newman traveled to China last year with PLU administrator Rick Seeger, who is again this year leading a three-week service holiday in China. The program, Global Language Villages in China, is an offering of Concordia College, Moorhead, Minn. Groups of 12 to 16 Americans of all ages spend three weeks in July touring and teaching at a dozen private schools across China. The program offers a combination of tours of culturally important sites around Beijing or Shanghai and an intense two-week summer-camp like service experience with Chinese school teachers and students. Members of the PLU community who are interested in the program should contact Seeger by phone at 253-853-3986 or by e-mail at

Pencil Us In

Upcoming events

March 25
Hawaii Connections Event - Honolulu

March 31-April 3
Instrumental and Vocal Jazz Tour with reception in Western Washington

April 22-23
Spring Alumni Board and Parents Council Meetings

May 5
Morken Center for Learning and Technology Dedication

May 6
Spring Donor Banquet

May 21

July 7-10
Alumni College 2006 at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival

For more information: or call 800-ALUM-PLU.


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© Scene 2006  •  Pacific Lutheran University  •  Spring 2006

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