The educational process goes far beyond conventional means, extends beyond the brick and mortar of the building, out into a classroom called life.

Former Central Washington University professors Phil and Judy Blacklund have been making annual trips to Macau and Hong Kong as part of CWU’s Asia University America Program (AUAP), created to teach courses for international graduate students in China.

This summer it was the Blacklund’s turn to host six educators from China, which was the fourth time they’ve opened their home, their hearts and their minds to extend a helping hand to the education process of people from another society.

“I don’t think we had the TV on the entire time they were here,” said Judy Blacklund, who is a retired CWU literacy education professor. “They enjoyed all the classroom stuff, but I think they just loved seeing how a real American families lived and experience day-to-day life.”

The Chinese contingent drank Iron Horse beer, took in the sights and sounds of the 22nd annual Jazz in the Valley and wandered through the Ellensburg Farmer’s Market.

“I don’t know if they were particularly impressed with the music, but they really enjoyed the atmosphere of Jazz in the Valley,” said Phil Blacklund, who spent 36 years of his 43-year career as a professor of communications at CWU. “They really enjoyed the Farmers Market.

“We took a trip over the Vantage to show them a working farm. It was the first time any of them had ever driven a tractor, so that was a big deal.”

Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China, located across the Pearl River estuary from Hong Kong. Until 1999, Macau was an overseas territory of Portugal. Macau operates a somewhat different educational system than in the United States, particularly the structure of its curriculum. However, the school welcomes more Western options, which provides CWU students with the opportunity to blend curriculums.

CWU’s Asia University America Program (AUAP) and has created and taught courses for international graduate students from China. Phil has also taught students in Macau and Hong Kong, China, and in Pakistan and South Sudan.

They attended workshops, participated in classrooms, traveled down to Corvallis, Ore., to take part in seminars at Oregon Statre. But the real educational process was drinking beer, spending time on the lake on a ski boat, and just taking in an Pacific Northwest American summer.

“I think there were more similarities than differences,” Phil said. “There’s cultural differences, but over the years we’ve been able to get to know people we call friends.”

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