River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze

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[Book Review] A great example of the ‘expat experience’ genre of travel writing. River Town tells the story of Peter Hessler, currently the Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker, during his two-year Peace Corps stint in Sichuan, China.

For anyone who has struggled to learn a language overseas from an unforgiving local, Hessler’s description of Chinese study with ‘Teacher Liao’ will bring back memories: the initial frustration, the first glimpses of competence, and finally, actual human conversation.

Having visited Peace Corps sites to stay with friends, including in Sichuan, Hessler’s story rings true to the conditions, stresses, and way of life. An interesting read for anyone, a valuable read for those going to China to teach, whether with the Peace Corps or another organization.

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