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In the 'WFU China Initiative' Category...

The China Initiative – Part IV

Sunday, July 15, 2012 12:03 am

Saturday was the big day for the China Initiative. It started out comically, as our bus was hopelessly stuck in a narrow passage with no way to turn around or back up until Jay Gentry ’89 from Edison Learning got out to stop traffic and saved the day. The first event was an Admissions panel session at the Shanghai campus of Dulwich College (which is actually a gorgeous and high tech high school complex) , similar to the one we did at Shi Xi High School. In fact, some of the same students came back to ask more questions. The main message I tried to get across was that the Library is dedicated to student success and we will help them in any way we can. Afterward, the Wake Forest contingent was available for questions by individual students and parents. Many students came up to ask me about the strange library that was open 24 hours and had a Starbucks in it. Most students were interested in business or science, but this shy young woman spoke to Dr. Claudia Kairoff about her love for English literature. Her father told me that he wanted her to do whatever she loved and was so happy to see her gain in confidence by talking to Claudia.

The main event of the trip was the concert by Dr. Peter Kairoff. A special Steinway Concert Grand D piano had been delivered to the hall that morning and it was a perfect match for Peter, who had just been named a Steinway Artist prior to the trip. Even for those with little knowledge of classical music, it was a magical experience. You could watch his hands delight in the keyboard, which was described as “soft as butter.” The master of Dulwich College Shanghai was so pleased that he purchased the grand piano on the spot, saying he could not bear to see it leave.

And finally, we had a traditional grand banquet in the Chinese style to thank our hosts for this wonderful experience. There were many greetings and speeches, and a wonderful tradition of ganbei where the hosts walk around the hall and give toasts to each table.

The whole day was a smash success and these two banquet ladies thoroughly enjoyed it (Dr. Ann Cunningham, Associate Professor of Education, and me).

 

The China Initiative – Part III

Friday, July 13, 2012 11:41 pm

Friday in the WFU China Initiative was a day trip out to Suzhou for a tour of the Dulwich College complex. Founded in London over 400 years ago by the British actor Edward Alleyn, Dulwich College is expanding rapidly on an international basis. In China, Dulwich has plans for all three models of Chinese education: top level state schools that emphasize studying for the Gaokao exam, international schools for ex-pats, and new international schools for Chinese students who want to attend college in the US, Canada or Britain. A whole new group of entrepreneurial international companies are forming alliances and partnerships, sometimes with US universities, to provide these educational opportunities. The focus at Dulwich is to provide a trusted, quality product by emphasizing academic excellence, leadership ability, English fluency, and assistance with college applications.

The Dulwich campus at Suzhou is quite impressive, with large cranes in place to construct the new Senior school next year. This is a picture of the Library that serves both Junior and Senior schools:

We returned to Shanghai for an alumni event at the Southern Belle. A small crowd of WFU alums were happy to gather and greet faculty and administrators from the campus. But the most dramatic event of the evening was when the Class of 2016 marched in together, having just had dinner together for the first time. Some had traveled from as far away as Japan to come to the Wake Forest events this weekend. What a happy, enthusiastic group of Demon Deacons. Meet the future:

The whole day was a study in our new global society, and was encapsulated perfectly by the band that showed up to play at the Southern Belle at the end of our party. The best mandolin player this side of Tony Williamson appeared on stage, a young man from Inner Mongolia, studied by way of University of California – Berkeley, along with a good ole boy from North Carolina:

Coming up Saturday: The Main Event!

The China Initiative – Part II

Thursday, July 12, 2012 12:15 pm

Thursday in Shanghai was a day of history and political lessons on Chinese culture from Dr. Yaohua Shi, WFU Chair of East Asian Languages and Literature. In the morning, Dr. Shi led us on a “rooftop” tour of Shanghai architecture, illustrating how the old/new Shanghai, composed of three separate cities (old, walled Chinese city; French Concession, International Settlement), was totally transformed by the cultural revolution and the economic reforms introduced byDeng Xiaoping. Here is a picture of the group from the Bund side, looking out to the modern skyscrapers across the Huangpu River, which were only built in the last 20 years:

We tried to tour the Anglican Cathedral and accompanying Cathedral School, site of the film Empire of the Sun (in the ZSR DVD collection) but it was under construction and unavailable.

Then we had lunch in a lovely American restaurant atop what used to be the Jockey Club of Shanghai (reflecting the former British influence), and could still see the outlines of the racetrack that was once below. Next, we toured the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center, a truly marvelous museum, detailing the growth of Shanghai from an ancient fishing village to the largest and most cosmopolitan city in the world.

The day’s tour ended with a visit to the site of the First National Congress of the Communist Party of China, notable in itself, but made even more interesting by the juxtaposition of high-end retail stores and restaurants at the site, reflecting the odd mixture of communism and capitalism that makes up the current Chinese culture.

Since food is such an important part of Chinese and Shanghainese culture, we ended the day with a fabulous restaurant that was renovated from a 1930′s slaughterhouse (I kid you not) and my new instant favorite, Jardin de Jade. Being vegetarian in China has not been a problem, as all food is exquisitely flavorful and delicious!

 

p.s. I gave Wake the Library t-shirts to all the Wake Forest students helping with the China Initiative. Here is Jenny Li, happy with her new shirt:

Tomorrow: Dulwich College.

 

 

 

The China Initiative – Part 1

Thursday, July 12, 2012 5:10 am

The Wake Forest University China Initiative has begun! A group of 16 (or so) individuals affiliated with Wake Forest are gathering in Shanghai July 6-16, 2012 to explore available options to further develop the University’s global programs. Dr. Linda McKinnish Bridges, Office of the Provost for Global Affairs and Office of Undergraduate Admissions, has put together a diverse group of individuals representing many areas in the University.

The main event of the week will be a concert by Dr. Peter Kairoff as a way of thanking the parents here in China for entrusting their children to Wake Forest for their college education. Four WFU students who are here assisting us in Shanghai are Ms. Xizi Liao, Ms. Jenny Li, Ms. Grace Wang, and Mr. Jacob Blackwell.

China is 12 hours ahead of Winston-Salem, so it took all of us a day and one half to arrive. Most of us were here in time to begin with a day of sightseeing on Wednesday, led by WFU alum Monica Kitt ’10, who now lives and works in Shanghai. She led us on an active tour of the city, starting with the wonderful Yuyuan Garden,

followed by a delicious lunch of Shanghainese dumplings. After that, most of the afternoon was spent supporting the local economy, first at a nice fabric market, where many of us were fitted for custom-made traditional Chinese dresses to wear at the banquet following the concert on Saturday night. There were so many of us that we wore the poor tailor out! After a quick visit to the “fake market” (just what you would imagine), we re-grouped to give a 3 hour Admissions event at the local Shi Xi High School. The group of approximately 75 students and parents were a little overwhelmed but very interested and grateful at the size of the delegation from Wake Forest. Here is a picture of Dr. Bridges, assisted by WFU student Jenny Li, giving the first part of the presentation.


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