I did “campus tours” with my classes as a fun way to almost finish the year. Small groups of students chose interesting places around the campus to talk about and my classes pretended we were a tour group of English speakers as we walked around the school. A group in almost every class came to the “cultural gallery,” a walkway with information about the school’s history. I listened to so many presentations about this, but ended up becoming extremely confused. The school was originally part of a university in Shanghai, but in 1965 – one year before the Cultural Revolution – it was moved out to middle of nowhere Sichuan. One student said that during the Cultural Revolution the university was a secret government military base. Another said the university was a chemical engineering lab that was a secret from the government. And another said the school was a “reeducation through physical labor” camp for urban youth. I asked three teachers about the history of the school and they had no idea. And then I told my PCV friend about it and he said that his students had told him the same things about their university.

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