#MVSUFacultyFriday with Dr. John Zheng

August 28, 2020
Dr. John Zheng        
Chair/ Professor of English 
What inspired you to teach? 
I am from a family of teachers; my mother, brother, sister-in-law, and I teach at different levels from K-12 to college. My mother has been retired for more than thirty years, but she is still a teacher in my eyes. So, a seed to teach was planted in me when I was young, and it began to sprout when I attended a boarding school with English for my future profession in the 1970s.  
What do you love about teaching at MVSU? 
I have been at MVSU since 1996. When you teach at MVSU, you need to appreciate it in a fresh way— its unique location, its harmonious environment, and its professional platform which helps you nurture a love about teaching, writing, and supporting. The one thing to do joyfully is to help students get published because you don’t want to kill your time here till you retire. When you know the meaning of SERVE, you know what to do academically for the university. 
Beyond your subject-area or discipline, what do you hope students gain from being in your classroom? 
I hope our students to be confident, self-motivated, and competent, and to make academic friends with professors because our job is to pave a pathway for them. A few years ago, I asked our majors to reach out to the community to learn about the history of civil rights, quilting, cotton, blues, churches, architecture, etc. They returned to make wonderful presentations. One student went to present on the birthplace of civil rights in Greenwood at an academic conference for scholars and professors at Arkansas State University. 
Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! 
An interesting fact is that the fortune-telling card I have kept for forty years tells my job is teaching and editing, and that’s what I have been doing since 1977 when I taught briefly in an elementary school. 
If you could have dinner with one person, alive or not, who would it be and why? 
Having dinner with my great-grandfather would be imaginative and poetic. He died before I was born. I wish to chat with him about the root issue since he went overseas and then returned home.
 What is your favorite book and why?
My favorite book is always the book I have forthcoming. Next year two will be out—one is creative, A Way of Looking, a collection of prose poems that won a poetry award last week. The other is scholarly Conversations with Dana Gioia, the former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. I guess my next favorite one will be about the Delta to show a way of looking.