Former GEHS track and field standout Rosa Jones recently competed in a half marathon race in Wuhan China. It was the first marathon for a city of 13.1 million, but likely will become an annual event.
Jones, 27, Gardner, was one of 20,000 participants in a three stage race that included a 12K, half and full marathon. Jones completed the half marathon in an impressive two hours.
The route was scenic as it crossed two difficult bridges of the Jianghan River which connects to the Yangtze. The route also passed by two Buddhist temples and the Yellow Crane Tower- the city’s most famous tourist attraction.
“I’ve always wanted to run a marathon and it took about six months to prepare for it,” said Jones. “We had to walk the first three miles because of the number of participants. It was an open invitation event, but included about 200 foreigners. Now I want to run a full marathon.”
Jones has served the past five years as an English teacher at Hubei Business College in Wuhan. One million of the city’s populations are University students. She teaches freshman and sophomore Oral English to English majors. Classes include international trade, finance, translation, Interpretation and Business English.
“Americans are in general warmly welcomed by a people curious about Western Culture,” said Jones. “The best part of the job is the students who have become family. The relationships keep me coming back each year.”
Jones’ trek to China started with stops at Tabor College and Dallas Baptist University. A 2007 GEHS graduate, she earned a track scholarship to Tabor, but found the travel time interfered with studies and switched to tennis.
While a freshman at Tabor, she attended an Outreach program in Wichita and liked the big city life. A friend introduced her to Dallas Baptist and after a visit she officially enrolled.
Completing a degree in educational ministries of the church and psychology, she set her sights on a career choice. Jones attended a campus conference where a representative shared ministering abroad. Following the presentation, she filed out an application and the organization placed her in China.
“When the East-West Ministries appointed me to China I hesitated,” said Jones. “But I accepted with an open heart and mind and it’s been a great experience.”
Jones has also continued to maintain a workout regimen and the marathon race completed a lifelong goal. A three year letter winner in track and tennis at GEHS, she was a borderline decathlete competing in the shot put, discus, javelin and the two mile race.
As a senior, she specialized in the javelin and set a personal best throw of 127’3” at state.
Future plans for Jones likely include at least three more years of teaching in foreign countries. She will return to Hubei Business College this fall and then might entertain teaching in either Japan or South Korea.
“I’d like to teach in two more countries before I reach 30,” said Jones.
Rosa is the daughter of BJ and Pam Jones of Gardner.