Thursday, May 20, 2004

Today was an interesting day. Upon waking up, much earlier than I wanted to, I got myself and the computer ready for the talk I was to give at the university today. I walked to the university, a few miles away but it was a nice day for walking, though certainly taxis were readily available. I gave a talk about critical thinking, with the briefest of introductions to logic, and then opened up the time for discussion of absolutely anything that interested the students. The questions ranged from my ideas on self expression (from a wonderfully creative young lady), to the problems of getting visas to visit the US (Thanks Bubba Bush!) to pop culture and the situation with Taiwan.

This lecture was in part to give the students an opportunity to hear english from a native speaker (I did not bother to tell them that there is a difference between English and Texan, though I have dialed down the accent as much as possible), so this was a more informal presentation than what I expect I will be doing in the future. Tuesday however will be another mostly informal session, though I am going to focus more on critical thought and sound reasoning as the more I have learned of the educational system here, this is lacking in the system here at least as much as it is lacking in the US system. Nonetheless it is interesting to me to get the questions, and to see what is on the minds of these students.

With that in mind, I agreed to meet with the English club (here that does not have the negative implications (nerd, etc) that it has int he states.. :) ) to help them prepare for an upcoming contest in speaking English. I am hoping that this will be a great deal of fun. I suspect that some of the questions will be different given that it will not be a classroom environment (at least I expect that it will not be) and there will be no professors around.

One more comment on the presentation, I was greeted by the entire staff of the department and given an incredible gift of some painted jars. These are small jars, originally snuff jars, which have become true art pieces. The interesting thing is that the painting, which is quite detailed and exquisite is on the inside of the jars, not the outside. I cannot even begin to imagine the patience and ability it takes to make such pieces. The work was done by the most famous artist of this sort in Tianjin, and I am truly honored to have some of his work. If I can get some photos that look right I will post them.

On giving talks and presentations, I have gotten a bit more good news on this front. I have been asked to give a formal presentation to BHA the international aerospace partnership here in China. Though there is some pressure, especially given some recent problems which motivated the request, I look forward to the opportunity to speak on business ethics, and how this is important as well as applicable to the work here.

Time will tell where all of this will go, but right now it makes for more intersting and enlightening experience in China.

All the best to those back home, be that the Great White North, or parts farther south.


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