Student Stephanie Roelling Earns MLIS While Teaching in China

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San José State University School of Information student Stephanie Roelling is preparing for the next stage of her career as a school librarian by earning her MLIS degree while having the experience of a lifetime in the coastal Chinese city of Dalian.

Roelling moved to China last summer to teach English at Jayland Learning, an American-run language school. Roelling, who has worked as a teacher in the U.S. for several years, decided to enroll in the MLIS program because she felt stymied in the classroom at the time.

“I’d been a teacher for several years, but until I got to Jayland, I didn’t love it,” she said. “I wanted to stay in education, but wasn’t sure what route to take. I thought about my favorite parts of a school and what I loved about it as a child, and I realized that the library is the place to be.”

Roelling graduated from California Baptist University in 2001 with a degree in English, earning her teaching credential as well at the school. Becoming a school librarian “isn’t so much of a second career as a transition from one part of education to another,” she said.

One of the benefits of living across the international date line is that “due dates are easy to make,” Roelling jokes. But it takes a bit of flexibility to arrange Elluminate meeting times with classmates, and her advice to other international students is to email instructors at the start of the semester to let them know your time zone and find out the schedule for Elluminate sessions. “That way you can adjust your schedule as necessary and your instructor might be able to adjust things for you, too,” she said.

Her contract with Jayland has already been extended from one year to two. “I love where I live and what I do for a living…two years could easily turn into much longer here.”

Roelling has learned what she calls survival Chinese, allowing her to order food and bargain. “My best bit of Chinese that I’ve learned so far is ‘Wo shi zhong guo ren,’ which means “I’m Chinese,” she said. “I use it to make salespeople laugh so they will give me a good price.”