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Xavier Magazine | November 18, 2017

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Profile: Mary E. Montgomery

Greg Schaber

Mary E. Montgomery
Honors Bachelor of Arts in history, 1990 | Visiting foreign professor, Beijing Foreign Studies University, Beijing, China

Power of Compromise | The West Chester, Ohio, native wanted to go to college far away from home; her parents wanted her to commute. “I ended up living on campus at Xavier. It was the best compromise my parents and I ever made.”

Widening the Circle | At Xavier, Montgomery was in the first group of students to receive the peace studies minor and was awarded the Fredin Scholarship, which included a year of studying in France. Those experiences, she says, taught her to think differently about the world outside Cincinnati and her place in it. This, in turn, led her toward teaching and working internationally. “My friends at Xavier taught me the meaning of friendship and acceptance. Honestly, every time I meet someone abroad, I think that what I learned about friendship at Xavier has led to making friends worldwide.”

The Road East | After graduation, Montgomery moved to the Baltimore-Washington, D.C., area, where she worked for two years before pursuing graduate work in history at the University of Maryland. Montgomery spent more than a year of her master’s studies at Uppsala University in Sweden. She returned to Maryland to start her doctorate. She also pursued research for a few years in the United Kingdom and in Ghana, West Africa. “In 2000 I moved to Berlin, Germany, and from there I moved to Beijing.”

A Curious Experience | Montgomery arrived in Beijing in July 2002 after receiving a joint appointment in the university’s departments of diplomacy and American studies. “Really it was curiosity that brought me to Beijing. I was looking for somewhere to live internationally and China seemed exciting to me with all of the social, environmental, political and economic changes.”

American History | In Beijing, Montgomery teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in U.S. history. “All of my students are Chinese, but I teach all of my courses in English. At B.F.S.U., all students in the school of English and international studies, where I teach, have to take all their classes in English beginning their sophomore year.”

Global Expansion | Montgomery recently completed her first nine hours of coursework toward a global teaching certificate, which she’ll complete in July 2007. “That will enable me to make the switch from university teaching to high school teaching. I hope to teach history in an international school at the advanced placement or international baccalaureate level.”

The Road Ahead | In the meantime, Montgomery is in Beijing at least through August 2007. After that, who knows? “I would love to head to Mongolia for a few years after Beijing, but I am open to all the possibilities.”

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