I LIKE THAT Frank, my husband, is an explorer. His passion for travel prompted us to accept a job in China to teach English as a second language. We loved the country and it’s people so much we stayed and worked as English foreign experts for four years.
For our first six months in China we lived in Yichang. All about Yichang, China
Teaching middle school youth was our classroom challenge and we jumped in feet first with enthusiasm. We spent a great deal of our time preparing elaborate daily lesson plans but when we had spare time, Frank would bring me out of the gated teacher’s living quarters into the bustling streets of Yichang. One day, Frank heard clunk, clunk, clunk from behind a group of depilated buildings and went to investigate. He found a family making coal bricks. It is common for the people in rural China to burn coal bricks to heat their homes and cook their meals. The smoke hangs thick in the air and settles on everything it touches. The crushed coal is shoveled into a hopper where it is stamped into cylinder-shaped forms. The forms are punched with holes to help the air circulate when they are set on fire with kindling. The solid coal bricks are placed by hand into a man-drawn cart and transported all over the city.
Frank walked away from the experience happy to have had the chance to witness the entire family operation.