Week 2 – Oct. 29 to Nov. 4, 2016
Hurrah! The forecast for the coming week shows a chance of sunshine. It’ll be a relief to emerge from the British-style weather for a few days. I’ve already lost one umbrella. It’s not a China thing – it’s an absent-minded professor kind of thing. So maybe I can give my new umbrella a rest.
If the forecast holds true, we’ll have an “Indian Summer” next week. Or an Anhui Summer.
Speaking of umbrellas … I brought along a really nice one from the National Wildlife Federation (“free with your donation”) to give to someone as a present. Students love everything with something English written on it. Well, not everything, exactly. Before I gave it to anybody, I looked up a “bad gifts” website. Things to never give in China include: umbrellas (especially not to a couple – it symbolizes bad omens and an impending break-up); clocks and watches (symbols of life trickling away and death at the doorstep); and anything sharp, like scissors, knives or the hydraulic sheet-metal nippers that I want for my automotive projects. There’s the German connection again. My mother used to freak out whenever someone gave her a really good bread knife or sewing scissors. We had to take them from her and then sell them back to her for one or two Pfennigs to break the spell. There’s a contrast between a staunch catholic and a jaded scientist who believes in data analysis. Good gifts in China are red, the color of fun and joy.
Saturday night: dinner with Mandy Bartell and her husband Alex. We meet at the Starbucks, a good landmark just a few steps from the apartment complex. But I still won’t pay five bucks for a coffee, not in the U.S. and not here. The Chinese food is better anyway!
These Chinese restaurants are doing me in. I think I’m gaining weight again, just like last time. But everything is so tasty, it makes one want to really have some of everything. So here we are at the Hongkong Restaurant, awaiting about six different plates of delicious stuff. Alex is off the frame, ordering something or other.
Sunday, Oct. 30: A “sun-day” indeed! We had sunshine all morning. Wuhu looks much more cheerful right away. The university is busy with people, classes, parked cars. I’m trotting over there to give a guest presentation to Mandy’s English class. She seems to have excellent rapport with the students. They sing a song for me, in English (see photo). Regarding my own two classes, I think I’ll leave the singing to others, though. Don’t want to scare the students into changing their major.
Mandy’s group gets really excited about the video clips from the excursion to Brasstown Bald that I did with Ray Tatum for the two-plus-twos currently in Georgia. I sure look forward to taking them somewhere next fall. Fontana Dam and Bryson City will be super destinations, if we can schedule enough time for an all-day trip. Been there, done that, here’s my Honors course from some years ago at Fontana (with Linda Kern). For those not familiar with Georgia’s nearest neighbors: Fontana Dam is the biggest hydropower facility east of the Mississippi. Two-thirds as tall as Hoover Dam (Nevada), twice as long. Nearby also is Cheoah Dam, featured in “The Fugitive,” with that famous scene where Harrison Ford’s character jumps and rides down the spillway at Cheoah. Not recommended, but worth seeing the real thing.
Monday: Still some rain, but not as much as we’ve had before. Things should start clearing up anytime soon now.
No bios yet, but I thought it would be nice to get some snapshots started. Here are Fang Junashu “Alice,” left, and Chen Chen “Erin,” right.
Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016: The Brenau delegation has arrived. Nice to see familiar faces! Reception for the delegation, on the evening of Oct. 31, offers some incredible foods.
Just like home! Dr. Schrader is holding a Q&A session for the next generation of Chinese students to come to Brenau. Getting them to talk, and to ask questions, isn’t always easy. But they are eager, enthusiastic and paying attention.
With 44 students on two campuses, it’ll be impossible to feature all of them. But I’ll get some bios and profiles together. For now, it’s snapshots. Here’s Teres (at right), freshman class, College of Foreign Languages .
My friend and helper in the Education College: Skylark. He’s untied a lot of knots in regards to system passwords, buying and activating a Chinese phone, upgrading the classroom computer so it can read my 1.5TB portable hard drive, and more. At the introductory meeting with Presidents Schrader and Zhu he delivered a flawless mini-speech. The sun is out this afternoon, so I take his picture on the steps of the Education Building, with the Wuhu Business District in the background.
Thursday, Nov.3: Still chilly, but the sun is threatening to come out! Students blazing across campus on their scooters are experiencing 20 mph wind, of course.
Friday, Nov. 4: 21 degrees daytime high! That’s not a winter outbreak. China uses the metric system, so we enjoyed sunshine and 70 degrees Fahrenheit today.
Wuhu looks particularly glossy under blue skies. Here are my “reflections” on the topic.