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OHS grad headed to China to teach history, maybe football

Gerald Wichman III (click for larger version)
August 17, 2011 - One of Oxford's sons left for China this week to teach students in the Far East about this nation's past and, if there's enough interest, how to wage the 100-yard war.

Gerald Wichman III, a 2004 graduate of Oxford High School, landed a job teaching U.S. history and physical education for the next year at Northeast Yucai Oxford International High School.

"Personally, I'm excited to experience a new culture," he said. "I've always wanted to live overseas. I didn't really have a specific destination, but I figured in terms of culture shock, this is about as big as it's going to get. I figured I'm young and single, so why not go live abroad for a year and see how it goes."

As a professional, the 24-year-old is looking forward to the opportunity to return to the classroom and shape young minds on an international basis.

"It's been tough in terms of finding jobs around here. This seemed like a good move for me," said Wichman, who taught for a year in Bay City Public Schools after graduating from Saginaw Valley State University.

Wichman, the son of Gerald Wichman, Jr. and Susan Lixey, believes he was born to be a teacher.

"It's 100 percent what I want to do," he said. "It's what I was meant to do. I love it and I want to experience it with different cultures. It's exciting."

Wichman's particularly excited about the possibility of starting a football program at this Chinese high school.

"Everyone seems enthusiastic about it. If that gets going, I'll be a part of that," credWichman said. "I think it would be a big challenge because it's not like around here where kids understand football, (so) you teach fundamentals and work ethic. This is teaching them the game – what is football."

Wichman certainly knows football having played offensive and defensive tackle for OHS under legendary coach Bud Rowley from 2000-03. He also played offensive guard for Saginaw Valley from 2005-09.

Wichman noted it's his understanding that if a football program is established in China, "they want to eventually bring the team over here and play a game."

"I think it's something that would be rewarding and interesting to be a part of."

When asked who was his inspiration to go into education, Wichman credited two men from his OHS days.

"The first is Coach Rowley," he said. "He made me a man. I wouldn't have played college football, I wouldn't have been a college student, I wouldn't have done any of that if it wasn't for him. He pointed me in the right direction at a young age."

Rowley was actually the one who informed him about this teaching opportunity in China.

The second major influence was former OHS teacher Matt Wandrie (2001-04), who's currently the superintendent of Lapeer Community Schools.

"My senior year he taught AP history and that really got me into history," Wichman explained. "He was a young teacher, so he could really relate to the kids. He seemed like he enjoyed his job and that's something that made me want to give it a whirl."

"I didn't get into teaching for the money," he noted. "I got into it because I wanted to do something that I would enjoy. It's not getting out of bed and going to work, it's getting out of bed and doing what I want to do."

While teaching for Bay City, Wichman said he enjoyed his job so much, "there were days I felt borderline guilty that I'm being paid for this."

Wichman signed a one-year contract to teach in China. "It's a year-by-year thing," he explained. "It's up to me basically, if I'd like to stay. I'm going into this with an open mind. If it's an unbelievable experience, I might stay for another year. If it's not really up my alley, then I'll do my one year and come home. I'm just going to see how it goes. I'm sure when I come back, I'll have lots of stories to tell."

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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