Together, they promoted the value of fine arts in schools and the community.
Now both retired from Southeast Missouri State University, the professors of music and education have big plans to make a difference elsewhere. Their next chapter, however, will take them to a faraway place for quite a while.
The couple will soon leave on a yearlong trip to China, where they will both teach English as a second language. While neither Gifford is a stranger to world traveling -- they've been on several trips in recent years -- never have they planned to go so far for so long.
"We enjoy learning about other cultures, and, well, sharing our ‘Americanisms,'" Robert Gifford said.
Ann Gifford said she hopes in addition to successfully teaching English in China that she will learn the Chinese language better than she knows it now, although she has been studying online.
The Giffords will teach through Shandong University of Political Science in the city of Jinan, the capital of China's Shandong Province. Both interviewed with the university's administration when they decided to take a quick detour to China during a trip to Taiwan last year.
During their stay, the couple will also travel to Beijing so Robert Gifford may take a turn as a guest conductor for the Beijing Wind Orchestra.
Plans now call for a mid-August departure from the U.S. The couple said they will miss their family and friends while away, but are expecting their two sons and their families to join them in China for a two-week stay.
One University Plaza, Cape Girardeau, MO