Our First Three Days in China

Three days into our trip to China, I finally have an opportunity to catch my blog up-to-date.  During our first two days in Xinchang, internet connection would not allow me to connect to the blog editor.  Now, in the larger city of Hangzhou, that problem no longer exists.

After what seemed like an interminable 14 ½ hour flight from Chicago to Shanghai, we were tired, but in China.  We had all been up at least 24 hours by then, though each of us did manage several naps on the long flight.  Here Sue Lin, Carol Rogow, and Joanne Whitlock get ready to go through the Chinese customs gate at the airport. 

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Four hours later, escorted by EKU graduate ZHOU, Menglai, we arrived at the very nice Bai Yuan Hotel.   Joanne and I were quartered in the Presidential Suite (living room below) and shortly after checking in we were fed a traditional Chinese meal, one dish of which is pictured.  The food, by the way, has been superb.

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Monday morning we were met at the hotel by LI, Chunbo, chairman of the Zheziang Medicine Company, Xinchang Pharma, our host and sponsor for our trip.  The sign in the background was a little over the top as far as I was concerned, but I think it shows the Chinese enthusiasm for our visit.

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At the company, we had a very informative and impressive presentation on its areas of activities and products.  It makes a wide range of pharmaceuticals, ranging from antibiotics to nutritional supplements.  Chairman Li took great and justifiable pride in the certifications and satisfaction of standards of drug agencies all around the world including the US FDA.  

EKU’s College of Business & Technology has had an agreement with ZMC for about 12 years.  Under this arrangement, ZMC sends promising managers to EKU to pursue a degree, usually the MBA.  EKU faculty also have the opportunity to visit the company.  Chairman LI and I signed an extension of this agreement to run through 2015.  In our discussions, he expressed an interest in broadening the relationship to include safety, environmental health and sanitation, technology, chemistry, and conceivably the EELI program.   A member of China’s delegation to the G8 summit, he impresses me as a forward and strategic thinker.   He wants to make his company a significant global player.  He realizes doing that will require a considerable investment in human capital, primarily professional development of ZMC’s work force (about 5,500 total).  He truly wants EKU to be a partner in furthering the education of his middle and upper level team. 

 

Later in the afternoon, we walked through Xinchang’s park, where I photographed two Buddhist monks enthusiastically texting on their cell phones.   This struck me as a seeming paradox between tradition and technology.   Later I caught the same two monks with the temple behind them.   A extremely large Buddha is in the temple, where photography is not allowed.

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Later, in downtown Xinchang, some of the ubiquitous pedicabs queued up for passengers. 

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Back at the hotel, we saw the future of China reflected in the face of this 18-month-old and pride shining in the face of her grandmother.

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Wednesday (today) we were off to Hangzhou, a city of about 5 million population.   We had some time for sight-seeing before another more official day tomorrow.  One of the highlights was a boat cruise on West Lake, declared by an earlier traveler here as the most beautiful lake in China.   That was Marco Polo’s opinion.   It was overcast, but I was able to get a shot of a shore side pagoda that figures in one of the region’s more colorful legends; sort of a Chinese Romeo and Juliet.  During a stroll through a lakeside park, we saw some pigeons that had gotten over whatever fear of humans they ever possessed.

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Later we visited the Six Harmonies Pagoda, a 13 story structure more than 500 years old.   Bob Rogow, Chang-Yang Lin, and I took a laborious stair step walk to its top.   If the day had been clear, the views would have been spectacular.

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This evening we attended the Impressions of West Lake show, a treat of music and interpretive dance that is a tribute to the Song Dynasty, for which Hangzhou was the capital.  Before the show, one scene of which is in the bottom shot, we happened on the act below.   You know, anymore it is really tough to see a monkey doing a handstand on the head of a goat which is atop a 5-foot step ladder.

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My impressions so far:  The Chinese are a warm hospitable people.  They are proud of what they are accomplishing and covet acknowledgement of their growing role on the world stage.  There is an incredible amount of construction underway, even during the current economic downturn, and much of that is on infrastructure projects.

Tomorrow we will visit Zhezhiang University of Technology and Aida Pharma, which is run by EKU graduate JIN, Xiao Yong.

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Upcoming Trip to China

It seems the only times I work on this blog is when we are traveling outside of the country.   Another such opportunity is coming up just after the first of the year, when Joanne and I will visit China along with the Dean of the College of Business & Technology, Dr. Bob Rogow, and his wife Carol, and Business faculty member Dr. Chang-Yang Lin and his wife, Sue.    We are going as the guests of Chairman Li Chunbo of the Zhejiang Medicine Corporation, a Chinese enterprise that has had a very fine relationship with the EKU College  of Business & Technology for a number of years.   Several EKU graduates work with ZMC.   We will have the opportunity to visit a number of other highly successful Chinese graduates of EKU on our 10-day trip, that will put us in Shanghai, Xinchang, Hangzhou, Xian, and Beijing.  While we are there, we will also have an opportunity meet with representatives of our friends at long established partner institutions and with some potential new partners, as well.   I hope one of the things for which my administration at EKU will be remembered is the globalization of the institution.

We leave on January 2, 2010, and will return on January 11.   I hope to be able to post to my blog from China and should have excellent broadband internet connections to make it possible.

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Retrospective

We had a safe, uneventful return home, arriving at the Blanton House some 30 hours after getting up in our Daegu hotel room for the ride to the airport.  Now, we are in a New York City hotel, on the second day of an alumni/development trip.   Tonight we will be with more than 30 EKU alums and friends at a function in Manhattan.

Before we left Korea, we met for a few hours with EKU Professor Emeritus Dr. Tae-Hwan Kwak and Professor Yoon, representing another Korean university with which we are considering a partnership.  Part of the conversation that I found particularly interesting was why her institution was attracted to EKU as a potential partner.   She had researched us thoroughly, was impressed by what she had learned and thought our environment, including our relatively small town location, would be particularly nurturing for her institution’s students.

In the office for a few minutes before leaving for New York, I signed memoranda of agreement with a institution in Madagascar and another in Israel.  Eastern Kentucky University’s global reach is extending and I am excited about the opportunities these developments will provide to our students and faculty.   I talk a lot about student success being one of our three focal points and I hope no one thinks that is limited to retention and graduation rates.   The real success of our students begins when they leave us to begin their professional lives.   If we fail to provide them with the tools to deal with the global workplace and a world in which contact and interaction with individuals and organizations from different cultures is a certainty, they will not have the opportunity for success that we desire for them.

I intend to continue my efforts to make EKU a player on the higher education world stage.

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Our Last Full Day in Korea

We had another good day in Korea today.  On the way to the campus of Daegu Haany University, we stopped by Gyeonsan stadium.  The university’s main campus is in Geonsan, while the medical college is in Daegu.  Miss Kim, who took very good care of Joanne and me during our stay, agreed to pose with us for this photo.

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When we got to the campus, the first order of business was the speech they had asked me to deliver.   I spoke to a group of about 100 students and faculty on the subject “Globalization and the Stewardship of Place.”  I had a prepared text (unusual for me) but could not resist going off script to describe the striking similarities in EKU and DHU.  After the speech, we posed with the DHU students who will be coming to EKU later this month to participate in the EELI program.   The sign above us gave me pause when we entered the lecture hall.

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Following the speech we visited the English Department (where Dan Robinette teaches) and sat in on an English class.   After lunch, we took off for the Gyeongjoo area about 55 kilometers east of Daegu near the coast.   This was the center of the Silla Kingdom, a period of Korean history that began about 250 years b.c. and ended during the 8th century.   This was one of three major kingdoms in Korea during that era.  We visited two Buddhist temples (both certified by UNESCO in 1995 as among the world’s finest.   Following that, we toured a park-like setting in Gyeongjoo that featured the burial mounds of Silla royalty, including a number of kings.   These mounds were formed by soil being built up over a mound of rocks that covered a central wooden chamber in which the dead were placed with artifacts to help them in the afterlife.  We were able to enter one of the tombs, but photographs were not permitted.

Here are two shots from the Seokgulam Grotto.  The first is of a structure near the entrance that houses a huge bronze bell.  The other is a photograph with many Korean school children in the foreground.  The structure on the hillside houses a grotto with a magnificent statue of Buddha, carved from the local granite.   I am sorry photos were not allowed in the structure.

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From this temple, we went to an even more magnificent one called the Bulguksa Temple.   Like the grotto, it dates back some 15 centuries.  This is just one of dozens of photographs I took.  Once again, no interior pictures were allowed.

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As the afternoon wore down we came to the mound tombs of leaders of the Silla Kingdom.

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We leave here in the morning and will be in Richmond Wedneday evening after about 26 hours of airplanes and airports.  No rest for the weary, however, as we leave on Thurday for an alumni/development trip.  This has been a very worthwhile trip, during which we have continued to build a new relationship (Rikkyo), and strengthened two established partnerships (University of Yamanashi and Daegu Haany University.)  I am very glad we came, especially since it provided an opportunity for a visit to Korea for the first time by an EKU president.  I come away with an even greater appreciation for the quality of the institutions with which we partner and for the one with which we want to partner.   There are rich oppotunities both in Japan and Korea for Eastern students and faculty.   We cannot let these opportunities pass without taking advantage of them.

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Daegu Haany University, Day 1

Wow!

That pretty well sums up our first day of visiting Daegy Haany University.   What we have found here is an institution that is committed to serving its region, that has aspirations of national significance, is student centered, and as part of that student centeredness is intent on having a global and international focus.  If that does not remind you of an institution that we know and love in Richmond, KY, then I will be very surprised.

The day was an overwhelming experience.   The good people here have pulled out all the stops to make us feel welcome.  You can tell when this sort of exercise is not sincere and the way we were welcomed and treated today cannot be “faked.”  Here are two photos from the start of the day.   One is Joanne and me with President Byun, the energetic 77 year old who is in his second stint as president of this institution of more than 7,000 students.   The other is of our entire traveling party along with the leadership of the university.  The sign is indicative of the reception that we received throughout the entire day.

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One of the day’s highlights was a tour of the beautiful and modern campus (the institution is observing its 30th anniversary next year) by these two students, both named Lee.  They have both been at EKU as students in the EELI program.   One of the points made by President Byun was that he would like to see more student exchanges and some faculty exchanges.   I could not agree more.   The other picture is a view from their mountaintop campus, with construction cranes in the near foreground.

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Lunch was a very traditional Korean meal.  It was one-hundred percent vegetarian and in keeping with Daegu Haany’s focus on oriental medicine, every dish was explained to us in terms of its health benefits.   It was good and good for you; tough combination to beat.   Later in the afternoon, Joanne and I had oriental medicine physical exams.   The process concluded with massages, aroma therapy and acupuncture.  Here’s a photo of the meal and another closeup of me.   If you look closely you can see the acupuncture needles — one in my temple and the other in my neck.

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In the evening, before we went to a restaurant for a wonderful Korean meal of vegetables and grilled short ribs, we relaxed at a riverside “coffee shop.”   For all the many friends of retired faculty member and dean Dr. Dan Robinette, I hope you will agree that this photo is the quintessential Dan.

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Tomorrow will conclude our trip.   I hope to fill you in with more information on what has been a productive trip beyond my hopes.   A big part of the reason for the success on the Korean leg is due to our gracious handler, Miss Kim.   I will include a photo of her tomorrow.

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