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China

The Storm Is Over - Typhoon Haikui

Hello again,

I just wanted to chime in one last time about Typhoon Haikui. The storm has moved north and the rain has stopped. The flooding has subsided and the streets are dry again. It's good to see people walking around, the streets clean, and folks going about their daily lives. The storm did give me a lot to think about, though, regarding privilege, so expect to see some reflections about that soon. Thanks for all of those who have been concerned and had us in their thoughts.

Typhoon Haikui Update - We're Okay in Shanghai

Hello everyone. I don’t know if this news has hit any major headlines over in the States or not, but just in case it either has or will, please know that our group over in China is safe. Typhoon Haikui has arrived at the coast of China and we are receiving adverse weather conditions in Shanghai as a result. Although there is some serious flooding (I’m looking out the window and seeing taxis driving through water easily above the top of their tires), we are safe and out of harms way. Our access to Internet is limited, so if you receive late responses to emails, Skype messages, etc., that’s the reason. In the event of an emergency and need to reach me or our group, we are at the Sunrise On The Bund hotel. The phone number is is +86 (21) 5558-9999. I'll do my best to chime in periodically to keep you posted.

Image shot from the hotel elevator

China—Day 3: The Great Wall of China

So far, I’m feeling very fortunate to have had the opportunity to take part in this trip. Reflecting over just past few days I can’t believe how wonderfully things had to align in order for us to be here right now. The history that took place, the people working together now, the political climates, etc. all have blended to come together to bring us here. In just two days we have done numerous things that many people would never even dream of—and that’s very humbling. Two days ago, we visited a place that was denied to even the people who resided in the country. Yesterday we ascended one of the seven wonders of the world—The Great Wall of China. I’ve heard many things about the Great Wall of China, but until I was able to experience it for myself, I could never fully appreciate it. The largest man-made defense structure ever built, I can only image the amount of time, energy, money, pain, love, suffering, and passion that went into the design and construction of it. It is truly remarkable. Not only the structure itself, but the process through which it came into existence.

View from the Great Wall

Before the we went to the Great Wall, we visited an independent research institution in China called the China Development Research Foundation (CDRF) where Mr. Hu Ziqiang, Mr. Yu Jiantuo, Ms. Liu Bei, Mr. Du Zhixin, and Mr. Feng Wenmeng presented us with fascinating insights into Chinese culture, concerns, and their approaches to measuring and addressing issues in regards to income distribution, early childhood development, social integration of migrant children, and population development. The tourism has been tremendously gratifying, and the opportunity to gain first-hand insights from the people working on the issues we so often hear about has taken this trip to another level—one that won’t be easily forgettable. I apologize for the brevity of these blog posts. There’s a lot of stuff to do and very little time in which to do it, but I want to keep you as posted as I can about our journey. If you have any questions, requests, or comments, please feel free to leave the below. Let me know what you’d like to see a picture of, provide your recommendations of places to see or things to do. What insights can I help bring back for you?

Until next time…peace

China—Day 2: The U.S. Embassy and The Forbidden City

Day two was an interesting one. A little more alert today, we were better prepared to take in some of the things Beijing has to offer. We started our morning with a 7:00 breakfast at the hotel. The spread included everything from Western style omelets to bean dumplings. It was a great way to start the morning. From there, we headed towards the U.S. Embassy where we had a private meeting with “Lee” to discuss Chinese-American political and business relationships. Key takeaways included the need to be culturally sensitive, knowledgeable of laws and regulations in both countries, and the differences between business practices. For example, the Chinese tend to be much more about relationships than their North American counterparts. Where we often do business over the phone and email, Chinese business people prefer to meet in person and court relationships over a much longer period of time. However, once that bond is formed, it is much more difficult to break.

A view of the interior of our hotel in Beijing

Once our time at the embassy came to a close, we were shuttled over to an authentic Chinese food restaurant for lunch (the name escapes me for the moment), which prepared another very nice platter for us. Although the names of the dishes were largely the same, the taste was vastly different. I think the most of us appreciated the authentic flavors and spices. From there, with packed bellies, we traveled to “The Forbidden City,” and toured a city that received its name because, for several years, was only accessible to royalty. I’m definitely adding The Last Emperor to the list of movies I need to see. According to our tour guide, that is the only movie to ever be filmed in the actual city.

At the entrance of the "Forbidden City"