Belmont 2015 alumnus Eric McAnally recently moved to China to teach advanced writing, oral communication and movie appreciation to third-year English majors and postgraduate non-English majors at Zhengzhou University. McAnally earned his Bachelors in Psychology and Chinese, and Asian Studies professors Dr. Qingjun (Joan) Li and Dr. Ronnie Littlejohn helped him secure a one-year teaching contract at Belmont’s host institution.
McAnally says teaching is a challenge he is aggressively tackling. “I had been planning on coming here to China for a while, but I wasn’t sure how. Teaching English seemed to be the ideal choice to make that happen. It was a long shot, but it has happened,” he said. “I encourage everybody to follow their dreams because they can definitely come true. It was a challenge transitioning from being a student for my entire life and then becoming a teacher (though, I am still a student and learner as I am teaching). It’s a beautiful and mind-expanding phenomenon to be a part of. I’m fortunate to be able to engage with the various dynamics of learning and education.”
While at Belmont, McAnally traveled to China with a study abroad program, visiting many places including Beijing, Xi’an, Zhengzhou and Dunhuang. Each place produced memories that McAnally says he will never forget and will forever appreciate. “These memories helped fuel the drive to come back,” he said.
McAnally said he owes much of his success to the opportunities Belmont afforded him. “Belmont has given me many experiences and connections. I was able to leave the country and travel the world for the first time because of Belmont. I have found myself in part because of Belmont. Most importantly, I’ve been enabled to further my education because of Belmont,” he said.
Once his teaching contract is over, McAnally hopes to advance his career in psychology, earning a PhD in industrial organizational psychology within the next five to 10 years. And because he has recently developed a passion for traveling, he hopes to work in the field on an international stage.
Moving to China to teach right after graduation has provided McAnally with a global perspective he would encourage all students to develop. “Do not fear the unknown. Embrace it. One will be able to understand the self and others in a far more metaphysical and humanitarian manner. We are not alone in this world. Take risks. Make mistakes. Learn from them,” he said. “This is why I think my story should be told. I come from an impoverished and broken home. If I can follow my dreams and make rational decisions to get there, I know everybody else can, too. Find a way to be granted the opportunity. You are in control of your life.”