My serendipitous Chinese journey
The author went to the University of Michigan in the fall of 1966 expecting to work on a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in European history, but one of his undergrad professors had made the author aware of China in 1964. When the Cultural Revolution exploded on the scene in the summer of 1966, China was suddenly covered on American television as he had never seen before. The year 1968 was a year of great political turmoil in the US and in particular on the University of Michigan campus. The author has often felt like a "bond-slave" of the Chinese language, in John Fairbank's words. It has taken a great deal of work and at times a good deal of luck to maintain a functional level of fluency in the language. They could not have maintained a semblance of fluency over the past five decades without regular visits to China and periodic residencies in Chinese language programs.