Department of Cultural Anthropology
Medical Anthropology (2013, 2014, 2017)
Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (2013, 2014)
moderating a skype meeting with a South African writer in class, Duke University
First-year seminar: China in Africa (2018)
I see the college classroom as similar to a fieldwork site in which I engage people with different backgrounds, experiences and intentions. I see myself not as an infallible authority but as a facilitator, preparing my students for a rite of passage – a process of transformation built on an awareness of cultural differences, social structures and everyday practices. I expect them to acquire the set of anthropological tools required for a deep reading of societies, and to position themselves as explorers at the intersection of theory and practice. Even more importantly, I hope to facilitate their personal growth and instill in them a commitment to the pursuit of social justice. My long-standing career in the newsroom has also helped to shape my teaching philosophy in line with the mission of informing and engaging society.
Social engagement. To accomplish these goals, I use multiple teaching materials in the classroom. These various ‘social texts’ helped the students to appreciate ethnography from a variety of angles. To engage is to make anthropology visible and relevant in everyday life, connecting it with a larger picture.
Learning community. Anthropology is predicated on a commitment to the public good, and I expect my students to respect each other’s contributions to this cause. In fostering a learning environment, I seek to unleash every student’s potential and cultivate the communal atmosphere that is key to cultural anthropology.
Rites of passage: I ask my students to learn through practice in the field as active learners. I also design my classes to ensure that students can relate their learning to their future development, whether in academia or other fields. Immersive learning is learning by living in the real world, and contemplating one’s own subjectivity.
My own life journey has also helped me to cultivate an inclusive learning environment that supports students’ growth and meets their needs. The many locations in China, North Korea, the UK, Africa and the US in which I have studied, lived and worked are spatial markers reinforcing my attentiveness to voices from different populations. Teaching anthropology serves the purpose of cross-cultural communication in and outside the classroom, and prepares students for “the most instructive revelations of what it is to be generically human” (Clifford Geertz).