Friday, August 3, 2007

the dream team

I'm down to eating one meal a day and I'm still gaining weight. Yesterday, Friday, I had a plum for breakfast, no snacks, and an orange and a Coke for dinner. Lunch was a bit different. We went to visit two factories, one a small machine shop with maybe a little over one hundred employees and the other a little larger than produces derricks for oil drilling. The owner of the first factory took us out for lunch at a very nice restaurant. We had our own private room. The table had the typical tree-foot diameter lazy susan. I keep forgetting that even though the lazy susan is filled with dishes of food, it is only round one of maybe three or four rounds. So for round one I eat a substantial amount, then repeat with round two, etc. Most often the food gets better with each round! It was a long 10-hour day with the first hour and the last two hours spent in traffic jams. The conversations were mostly in Mandarin or Shanghaiese. I'll ask YW, our only Shanghaiese speaker, to fill me in.

Today DM needs to move out of his apartment and YW needs to pack for the rest of our trip. XC and I plan to visit the Shanghai Museum then meet up with the others at the Maglev station about 6:00. The Maglev is train that levitates over the track due to opposing magnetic forces. It goes a couple of hundred miles per hour and you do not feel like you are moving. XC and YW have never been on it so we decided to take it to the airport for our flight to Fuzhou. The train takes only 8 minutes rather than 45-60 minutes driving. Plus, it is a lot cooler.

The other night we had dinner with the director of the program in Shanghai to which we send our students. DM took us to a Nepali restaurant where you take off your shoes and sit on pillows around a low table. Excellent food, close to Indian food but a bit more spicier. DM is easy-going, funny, generous, personable Nepali, and incapable of any guile. I think he was a favorite of the director when he attended the Shanghai program last fall. DM later told us that after the dinner the director, an American, told him how he is more and more impressed with SLU. First of all, we send him good, low maintenance students. Second, SLU funds students to travel with professors over the summer. This is very rare. What most impressed him was our interaction. At dinner he was expecting the students to be very quiet in the presence of their professor, trying to not make any mistakes, etc. Instead, we all had a fun time, making jokes and teasing each other, more like friends rather than what he usually sees with students and professors.

It is so good to hear things like that. It reminds me of what a very special place SLU is and how blessed I am to be there. It is all too easy to take things for granted. I need a wake up call every once and a while.

It also helps that I am traveling with my dream team. They are great students and great people.

Be blessed!

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