Random Friday memory 16 – among the Chinese

Twenty-five years is a very long time, though as many septuagenarians would understand, quarter-centuries aren’t as long as they used to be. 1965- 1990 took, well, 25 years, but 1990-2015 has gone by in a matter of minutes! 😉


That was taken in winter 1990 on an excursion to Wollongong with my class of overseas adult students. The couple on the right are from Korea, as I think is the woman with the red bag – or is she Chinese? Blue umbrella is Zhang Rui from Tianjin in China (a scientist) and next to him another Chinese, Ding. The taller slightly older man is Bill Zhang from Guangzhou. Lovely man.


Bill and I in Hyde Park 1990. He had been photographing the grass so his wife in China could see this wonder: apparently at that time great dollops of lawn were in his eyes quite an exotic spectacle.

Why these students? As I noted in another post where there is indeed another story too:

I in fact worked with Phil rather briefly, as in 1988 to early 1989 I was teaching in St Ives, in 1989 dealing with a range of personal matters and sometimes not quite with it, and in 1990 to early 1991 at Wessex College of English. I did work at High in Term 4 1989, and again from 1991. I saw a fair amount of Phil nonetheless and was there in the final stages when, sadly, AIDS-related dementia also showed itself at times.

This was Wessex College in Wentworth Avenue Sydney in 1990. It was just upstairs from the job centre at the time, and that’s how I ended up there.


I was as a casual teacher in Christmas holiday dole mode in January 1990, but the job centre actually gave me a job —  upstairs, which was wall-to-wall with Chinese, as were so many other places in that post-Tiananmen time. I hadn’t ever actually taught English as a second or foreign language, nor had I ever met any people from Mainland China. Wessex gave rather good in-house training (which I later supplemented with a Grad Cert TESOL from UTS) and I soon rather took to the Chinese (and others) with whom I spent my time for the next thirteen months.


We spent quite a bit of time having coffees and lunches in the YWCA next door, and Hyde Park was just across the road. It really did turn out to be rather a good year (for more than one reason.) Here’s a related memory:

I am glad I visited the garden, as I called in on Sam, who has the “dress up as a Chinese princess” concession in the garden, something he has been doing for fifteen years now. I first met Sam, who was once in the Beijing Opera, in 1990. I remember it well. I was in a coffee shop and Sam was serving. I was reading an illustrated book about the Tiananmen incidents of 1989. “I can tell you all about that,” said Sam. “I was there.” And indeed he was. It turns out Sam is giving up the “dress as a princess” business in April, and going into something new. He’s over fifty years old now too. How time flies!

Some time in 1990 or 1991 I took Sam (and M and a guy from Tianjin, a scientist, called Rui) to SBHS to talk in a history class that was studying China. Sam rather stole the show when he told the students how his father, also in the Beijing Opera, had been beaten to death by Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution. Kind of brought Chinese History to life, that did.


With my class at Wessex, probably late in 1990. Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, Chinese.


A quarter of a century ago!