Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Future of China

Today we started early as we were checking out of our hotel. This would be our last day in Beijing. We piled into the bus and headed out to the suburbs where we were to meet with a company called the “Sound Group.” They're in the water purification business with several plants for industrial and municipal water treatment throughout the country. With a large degree of the water in the country un-drinkable (and some even unsuitable for industry) it's certain that the country needs it. After a presentation that nearly put me to sleep we had a chance to tour their factory. It looked much like a factory in America except for the lack of safety equipment. No hardhats were worn around heavy-lifting cranes and protective eye-ware was only worn by a few people doing welding. Guess OSHA isn't as stringent over here.

After Sound Group and a lunch of Subway sandwiches on the bus, we traveled to a high school in the suburbs of Beijing. Part of the itinerary was for us to give a presentation to the students. While our professor insists that someone had said back in America that they would play piano, there was no one that would agree to do it while we talked about it on the bus to the school. It was at that time that I mentioned that I played the guitar to our professor (half hoping that they wouldn't have a guitar for me to play).

The high school was devoted to communication which we saw as we looked in on classes of art, music, and photography classes. After a tour of the grounds came a presentation by the students. It was truly impressive the amount of work they had put into the readings, poetry, songs and play that they gave. The interesting point in the afternoon came when their script called for a piano and guitar solo from Daniels students. As the rest of the class looked around at each other somewhat panicked I got up and headed to the stage. I let them know that there wouldn't be a piano solo, but that I would play their guitar. With a couple of miss-played chords and some missed lines I was able to perform “Hotel California” while the crowd clapped and sang along. I was glad that I could save our school's face and be the hero in the situation, but I was also glad to get off the stage.

We finished the afternoon with a bit of group time with the students where we split into groups of five Daniels students and five Chinese students to a room. There we would ask questions of each other and try to communicate as best we could. Overall, there seemed to be a great interest in American culture and basketball. And while most of the students could carry on a simple conversation, it wasn't long before I ran out of questions that I could ask (and that would be understood).

We eventually finished our high school visit and left for dinner and the airport. Check-in was relatively easy and I'm now sitting in the terminal getting ready to go. Our next stop will be Guilin.

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