Da Jia Hao!
My name is Ross Killion and I am from the quirky city of Portland in the beautiful state of Oregon. Being half-Taiwanese, I spent some years and many summers in Taiwan, which I have always considered my second home. Growing up, I learned to straddle two cultures and two languages, something which I found confusing as a child but which I later embraced as a an adult. I studied biochemistry and molecular biology at Reed College. During that time, I did an internship at a microbiology lab in Taipei as well.
After graduation, I applied to several research assistant jobs in laboratories around the country. However, on a whim, I also applied to a teaching position in Khartoum, Sudan which lead me to spend a year teaching both English and Chinese at a university there as well as traveling through parts of Northeastern Africa and the Middle East. This was an incredible learning experience for me because not only did I have the chance to learn Arabic but I was also able to experience a culture that I was not familiar with growing up.
After my year in Sudan as well as spending some time in Israel, Ethiopia and Egypt, I decided to move to Taiwan. My primary goal was to solidify my Chinese reading and writing skills. I started out as a tutor for TOEFL exams, medical and business English. I later transitioned into translation and began studying computer science. I am currently working on an Android app for learning Taiwanese expressions and idioms.
I am very passionate about sharing my experience with the Chinese language and I am very excited to meet young Americans who have taken on the challenge of learning a difficult language. I am a huge fan of four-letter Chinese idioms, which I will incorporate into the curriculum. As a heritage speaker, I have the unique perspective of both a native Chinese speaker as well as a student of the Chinese language.
As an avid reader, I have consumed numerous books on Chinese history and culture, including several specifically focused on Yunnan province. Yunnan, known as the land of eternal spring, is a gorgeous province that is very different from the ultra-modern cities of Shanghai and Shenzhen. What I find fascinating is that the history of Yunnan is also very distinct from that of the rest of China. Yunnan was once an independent nation known as the Dali Kingdom and since then its history has been shaped by the various minority groups living there as well as influences from Southeast Asia.
That being said, the provincial capital of Kunming is still a modern city that is several times larger than my hometown of Portland. We have the unique opportunity to see the dynamic and constantly-changing juxtaposition of urban China and rural China.
I look forward to meeting everyone and embarking on this journey of learning and exploration. I think we are all incredibly lucky to have this opportunity. Please do not hesitate to contact me or my wonderful co-instructors for questions about the trip, questions about the Chinese language or book and film recommendations.