Wish you were here!

(digital) Postcards from the edge

One of the great joys of working at Michigan Today is meeting freelance writers who contribute their unique talents to the editorial.

Michael Luongo, a professional journalist who now lectures at U-M, is one of my new favorites. In February, he contributed the photos and text for the slideshow “Remains of the Day,” which showcases the charming and mysterious ruins, remnants, and shards of past structures dotted across the Ann Arbor campus. These days, Michael is teaching writing at a U-M satellite in China. When he submitted his invoice for the photo essay, Michael sent the following missive from the Far East. It feels like I just got a postcard from a long, lost friend who’s on an exotic adventure.

“Deborah: China so far is fantastic — surreal in some ways too — especially with all the maize and blue everywhere in our mini-campus and then of course realizing, ‘hey, I’m in China!’  Every day is totally a ‘Toto we’re not in Ann Arbor anymore,’ moment. There is a new building that U-M will occupy; it opens on May 24, and President Schlissel will be here for that.

“It’s my first time in China, and I arrived in time for Chinese New Year — which has been amazing as it’s a two-week period. I am teaching my writing classes, with ‘geography as character’ among my themes.  If you ever get asked to teach here or visit, I highly recommend it!

“I also get to actually tell my students to violate rules, like: ‘Use Facebook, YouTube, and VPNs to get around Chinese censorship,’ which is all kind of weird and kind of wink-wink too since it’s just kind of known  that all of this gets done. All our classes are also videotaped to be monitored, though I was told it really doesn’t matter. It’s nothing I think about, though the other day I was wondering, ‘how do I lecture on China between 1912 and 1949, you know, when it was sort of a democracy?’

“Talk soon and Go Blue! Even in China!”


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