Don’t expect UW-La Crosse Professor Emeritus Kent Koppelman to read his most recently published book. He can’t — it was published in Chinese.
The retired teacher education professor was contacted nearly three years ago about interest in his “Understanding Human Differences” textbook. Xing Teng, a senior Fulbright scholar and one of the most distinguished professors in education of anthropology in China, had a doctoral student contact Koppelman to seek permission to publish the book in Chinese.
Teng bought Koppelman’s book while traveling to give lectures in the U.S. With an increasing interest among Chinese about the diversity in American education, Teng wanted the book for his classes and organized a team to translate it.
According to Koppelman’s editor at Pearson, publisher of the book, the English version is currently third on the list of best-selling, multicultural education textbooks in the U.S.
“Because my approach was so well received by UW-L students, I figured it would do well on smaller, predominantly white campuses in the U.S,” Koppelman says. He was pleased when it also sold well on campuses with a significant number of students of color.
“But, this expansion to China was really a surprise,” he says. “It’s pretty exciting to have the book picked up and then published in China by a leading anthropological scholar to use in his classes.”
Koppelman says he was “pretty excited” when copies of the book showed up at his house in La Crosse on a recent Friday afternoon. “They ultimately sent me three copies of a book I can’t read,” he quips.
After reviewing the Chinese copies, Koppelman says many of the book’s visuals were maintained but were made smaller because Chinese text is much larger than English. He says around 2,000 copies were printed in Chinese. “We’ll see where it goes,” he says. “It would be neat if it becomes as much of a success over there as it is here.”
Koppelman retired in 2007 after 28 years of teaching at UW-L so he could work on publishing three books. The books include: an anthology on diversity issues, a diversity textbook for Teachers College Press and his second book on grief. His first book on grief, “The Fall of a Sparrow,” was written following his son being killed in an automobile accident. His second book on grief, “Wrestling with the Angel,” is a mixture of essays, poetry and reflections on death and dying issues, responding to death, along with a one-act play about human mortality.
Koppelman doesn’t know if his book published in Chinese will lead to any of his other diversity books being translated. For now, he’s focusing on getting a book about Native American issues published. Koppelman wrote the book about Dan Green, a former student and now a colleague, to provide insight on life as a Native American caught between his ancestor’s and white cultures.