Former Ironton resident headed to China to lead international school

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 30, 2002

Two Ironton natives’ calling to serve the Lord will take them half way around the world -- to China.

The Alfrey family, currently residing in Mississippi, will travel to Kunming, China at the end of July where Eric Alfrey will serve as the director of the Kunming International Academy.

Kunming has a population of 4 million and is located 200 miles north of Vietnam. The Academy was founded in 1994 and serves 115 students of 15 nationalities, grades kindergarten through 12.

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&uot;This has been something we have been thinking about for a long time--just the idea of teaching overseas,&uot; Alfrey said. &uot;The more we talked and prayed about it, we felt like the timing was right.&uot;

Eric and Martha Alfrey have been married 17 years and both are from Ironton.

Their parents still live here.

Eric Alfrey is a 1980 graduate of Dawson-Bryant High School and the former Martha Kennedy is a 1980 graduate of Ironton High School.

They will also move their three children Hannah Beth, 9, Abby, 6, and Ethan, 4.

&uot;(The children) are a very good age to benefit from the experience and opportunity,&uot; he said. &uot;It is something we wanted to do as a family.

&uot;Our children and immediate family are very excited. We look at it as a real adventure.&uot;

The school is English speaking, but the family will have a tutor and the kids will take Chinese classes, Alfrey said.

&uot;The kids will probably be translating for us in no time,&uot; he said.

Currently, Alfrey is principal at Southern Baptist Educational Center in Southhaven, Mississippi.

The Network of International Christian Schools is based out of Southhaven and sponsors Kunming International Academy.

One of Alfrey’s primary duties will be to recruit teachers and promote the school within the foreign community.

&uot;It is so exciting to realize we can conduct a Christian education and reach the children,&uot; he said. &uot;We want to try to bring honor and glory to God through helping to lead the school.&uot;

His father, John Alfrey, said that his wife Fondalene and he may attempt to visit sometime during the three years his son is planning to stay.

The elder Alfrey said his granddaughter Abby asked, if after they go to China, they could move to a different country--like Alabama.

&uot;We will miss him and his family,&uot; John Alfrey said. &uot;It is a good opportunity and if he is going to go he should go now before the children are in high school.&uot; Michael Caldwell/The Ironton Tribune