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As Published in the Lindsay Gazette:

Lindsay teacher to speak about China travels
By Carolyn Barbre / Lindsay Gazette
Photo by Carolyn Barbre / Lindsay Gazette

Standing in a huge railway station in Xi'an, china in 1998, Lindsay native Kent Stinson found himself the only "foreigner" among several thousand people. He was such an oddity that children swarmed around him and pointed him out to their parents.

Stinson said the people seemed to be very poor, carrying their few belongings in sacks, rather than suitcases. The friend he had been visiting in Beijing said the people in the train station were probably peasants who had come to the city to look for work.

"I knew I had skills and abilities I could use to help," Stinson said, seated by his computer in his Lindsay home.

Stinson, who graduated from Lindsay High School in 1963, has a Masters Degree in Education and a Doctorate in Counseling from Biola University. He is currently teaching English as a Second Language at Lindsay Adult School.

"Probably the number one demand in China is to learn English from American teachers," he explained. "It was laid on my heart that very day [in the train station] to do this."

Stinson will be giving a presentation about his travels at Borders Book Store in Visalia from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 9.

He said his interest in China stems from his service years during the Vietnam War in 1968-70. although he never actually went to Vietnam, Stinson was stationed in Okinawa and went to Hong Kong on a visit. He said he stood at a guard post looking across the border into Red China and remembers hoping that America and China would become friendly so he could visit one day.

Stinson made his second trip in the summer of 1999 to Wulumuqi, the capital of Xinjiang Autonomous Region to Western China, where he spent two weeks. He said he encountered numerous minority groups of Turkish and Mongolian extraction.

"I became deeply interested in Western China," he said.

Stinson returned to China in December, to Lanzhou on the Yellow River. He visited the poor villages along the river and took a lot of color slides. He was again besieged by a desire to "help China progress from a third world agricultural country to industrial success."

Upon his return home Stinson arranged to give a talk and slide presentation at Borders Book Store in Visalia. He said John Gong, in charge of Community Relations at Borders, suggested he should write a book about his travels. Stinson self-published a 101 page journal titled "A Journey In China Through the Eyes of a Western Traveler," which can be purchased at Borders or ordered through Stinson's web site.

The web site came about after Stinson partnered with Dr. Tim Hart and set up a non-profit corporation. On Oct. 16, 2000 Travel China Roads was approved for nonprofit status for "the purpose of teaching English as a second language, promoting cultural understanding between China and the USA, and helping existing school programs in the People's Republic of China," according to the "Travel China Roads" fall 2000 newsletter.

Hart is a lawyer and professor at the College of the Sequoias in Visalia. According to the "Travel China Roads," September 2000 brochure, "Dr. Hart also is a great writer and will play a valuable role in the building of Travel China Roads."

Stinson's next trip to China will depart form San Francisco on Dec. 17. He plans to visit universities in Shanghai and make more contacts.

Stinson has already signed up for a cultural exchange trip next summer and is looking for credentialed teachers to join him. Room and board will be provided but individuals must pay for their own transportation.

Stinson said his December excursion will cost $1,300. this includes roundtrip nonstop flights, 11 nights in the hotel and breakfast each day.

He is currently at work on a longer book, "Travel China Roads."

Anyone wishing to be on the Travel China Roads mailing list can write Travel China Roads at P.O. Box 4371, Visalia, 93278, or write to Dr. Kent Stinson at 182 Bellah Ave., Lindsay, 93247, or contact him at his email address: stinson@ocsnet.net. (Please note that this contact information has been changed since the printing of this article.)

Stinson said that although there are a lot of people becoming involved in teaching English in China, he considered it a good opportunity for him because, he said, "I'm coming to the end of my education career [retirement age]."

But with one-fifth of the world's population, or 1.3 billion people wanting to learn English, Stinson has a lot of work to do.


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