Sunday, February 22, 2009

Guangzhou Orientation

We flew down to Guangzhou, near Hong Kong, for a Feb. 10-12th orientation for the Spring Fulbright Professors. It was great to meet the new professors and reflect on our experience so far. Our advice was simple: stay flexible and smile. Be willing to give up a need to have control over your life and you’ll be much happier. This comes not from living in a Communist country, but from being illiterate. So much information passes us by because we cannot read or write. We may be able to share our professional expertise, but we cannot buy a train ticket without having our hand held. We are slowly building some helpful vocabulary and are perfecting the art of pantomime.

Guangzhou (the old Canton) had been described by one guidebook as an unattractive town, but we found it a pleasure. We stayed at the White Swan hotel, which has the nickname “White Stork” because many families stay there as they await papers to take their newly adopted daughters home to the US. It was a joy to see so many growing families around us. The Pearl River flows through town and we were treated by the Fulbright program to a river cruise, and the next night to dinner at the home of the Counsel General in Guangzhou, which also overlooked the river.

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