Update to Day 12 — Beijing

Day 12, Today, Friday July 1
Evening, writing this, really hot and muggy on campus, this internet room is packed. Many students have been graduating these days, wearing the different colored T-shirts from their various disciplines. Sneaked a meeting with the prez of a teaching school in Beijing, possible for teaching assignments. Wanted to hear his pitch. But my allegiance and responsibility is to Renmin Daxue, Prof. Jin, and Hu Bo who wants to bring me on as a ‘master teacher’ for SAT training at his new Teaching Institute.

Tomorrow I’ll be moving from my ascetic lodgings on campus to the campus Hotel near Ximen (west gate). My current apartment where I’ve been lodged the past 12 says is basic, on the 2nd floor of an elderly persons residence, with tiny bathroom and kitchenette but pleasant, peaceful, quiet, with soft light coming thru the windows. The air conditioning unit makes the place quite tolerable. When i discovered at the start there was no fridge or drycleaning i thought with horror how can this be tolerated. But lo and behold, such inconveniences can be easily overlooked and adapted to.

Day 11, Thursday
Got up early, showered and shaved and dressed in my finery then rushed to the west gate of campus and hopped into a cab to get to my morning appointment with Li Bei at BOCOG (Beij Org Comm for the Olympic Games) … where we had am glad to say a heart to heart chat, discussion about his personal love for aboriginal and traditional art, art which is alive, which is performed he stressed for ordinary people. The cup i was drinking water from is practical, useful, but when the cup is designed as a marble piece of decoration and placed for all to behold then it is no longer useful art. He stated he regards me as a cultural ambassador and could I introduce and recommend to him traditional artists from Canada, Greece and the U.S. ? I recommended Abigail Washburn to him, an artist based in Nashville who performs exquisite old-time music, has a timeless pure voice accompanied by banjo. I presented her new album, on NETTWERK Records. And she performs in Chinese, translating old-time American songs to Chinese and setting her own melodies to Chinese poems. We could do a concert together, say at the Olympic Cultural Festival in the summer of 2006. Send a proposal. Presented him copies of the Chairman George documentary as well. Great meeting.

Day 10, Wednesday
Had a mid day lunch with Hu Bo, Alex Carre and Sam Carter (professors from Vancouver) where Hu Bo explained to us the intrigues underlying differences between himself and the other department on campus that invited me to Beijing on this occasion as well as the other Canadian scholars. And he reaffirmed his committment to involve us as Canadians in his Institute with respect to the different specialities that we bring, im my case this being my Olympic volunteer background. Plus he has funding connections.

Day 8 and 9, Monday – Tuesday
Spent Monday preparing intensely for a lecture I delivered Tuesday morning to 1000 graduating students at a subsiduary campus of Renmin Daxue. This was an international forum for Volunteers. As I entered the auditorium all the students stood up and applauded as I walked down the aisle towards the stage waving to them. I had prepared a powerpoint presentation but this idea was quickly scuttled by Hu Bo who declared to me that this was a rock and roll show, and to just talk. My interpreter and I approached the podium and for an hour I presented a brief history of the ancient and modern Olympics, followed by experience as a volunteer for China last year in Athens. This was followed by my recommendations as to what students could do now to prep themselves and upgrade their skills with a view to becoming volunteers themselves for the Beij games. I followed this up by performing several songs in Chinese. Then a question period. The seminar am glad to say was very smooth, and glad I had structured it, spoke slowly and gave time to Celia my interpreter to translate to Chinese for the audience. Felt accomplished about that.

Am gonna publish this entry now so as not to lose it by a power failure or otherwise here in this Chinese internet room. Will recount the previous weekend events next entry.

Love from China,
July 1, Canada Day, at night, close to midnight.