Imitation! – 19. Disciplines of the Spirit-led Life: Discipleship

“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” Paul, 1 Corinthians 11:1

Usually the connotation of imitation is a negative one.  We call them “knock-offs” when someone sits on a street side with “Rolex” watches spread out on flimsy sheet, and offers to sell them for $10.  If you search hard enough online you can find a Turkish dealer who will sell you a “real Rolex” for about $200, but refuses to disclose his name or location.  Some Hungarian dealers are willing to let them go for about $400.  But the real Rolexes from reputable dealers start around $7,000 USD and go up to over $85,000 USD.  Do not be fooled into purchasing an imitation when you are looking for the “real thing.”

Monopoly money originalBut are all imitations bad?  Oscar Wilde noted “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.”  While I would not recommend him for his theology, this kind of hit the nail on the head.  Something is imitated because the “real” item is valuable and worth something.  No one counterfeits Monopoly money from the popular game, because even though it may say it is worth $500 (or in the City Edition, the big bill is $5 Million!), everyone knows it is really only worth the paper it is printed on.  There is no real value to it.  $20.00 bills are another matter.  They are worth something and are often counterfeited.

Discipleship.jpgThough “imitation” money is illegal, “behavior imitation” is not.  Jesus gave the call to some guys who were fishing, and invited them to become imitators of what he was doing.  “While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him.” (Matthew 4: 18-20)  So Simon Peter, James, Andrew and John began imitating Jesus, i.e., became his disciples.

This involved cleaning up their language, changing professions, attending synagogues, loosening family ties, living semi-nomadically for a few years, and trying to do many of the things Jesus did.  While we usually concentrate on “the Twelve” whom Jesus named “Apostles,” He had many other disciples, imitators who were doing some of the good works He did.  (Luke 10:1-22)

When 72 of these imitators went out in Luke 10, He told them, “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.” (10:16)  Their imitation of Jesus was to be so clear that it would be as if Jesus Himself was there.  Thomas a Kempis wrote in ~1420 that the imitation of Christ was based strictly on having His Spirit living inside of us.  Without that, the imitation would be impossible; with His Spirit living in him, he must try to pattern his whole life on that of Christ.”  It is important to note here that a Kempis does not advocate that a virtuous life lived to please God is what saves a man.  Rather this is accomplished by the grace and love from God and results in a person desiring to be like Jesus.

This was Paul’s point to the Corinthians as well as to the Philippians when he wrote, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5)  Having set his mind on following Jesus and imitating Him, he called everyone he encountered to do the same (Acts 26:29).  Some responded well to this invitation, others not so much, and some vehemently opposed Paul, even trying to have him killed rather than spread this message of salvation through the grace of Jesus, the uniquely born Son of God.

Jesus parting command to His disciples as He was physically leaving this world was: “having gone, then, disciple all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19 YLT)  While most translations, and thus, most teaching, seems to emphasize the “Go” command, this is better translated as Young’s Literal Translation presents it, “having gone.”  The point is that we have already gone into all the world.  We are already on another continent than the one on which Jesus stood giving this command.  Rather, the emphasis should be placed on the verb, “disciple.”

Dictionary.com wrongly asserts this use of “disciple” as a verb is archaic and obsolete!  In fact, this is what we are called to do: to disciple all the nations.  But discipleship does not usually happen in large groups.  Look at Jesus own example.  If we are to imitate Him, we should be “discipling” about 10 or 12 people at any given time, that is, training them to do what we do.

If that seems a bit overwhelming, try discipling one or two.  Ask The God Who Is There to give you one or two people who want to learn to imitate Christ as you do.  Keep in mind that discipleship takes an investment of time, energy and resources.  Jesus took three years to make His disciples into men who could carry His message into all the world.  And keep in mind the end of discipleship: that the disciple will leave you, and begin to train new disciples without your help, or at least without your immediate supervision.  Then go out and make another disciple of Jesus as you release the ones with whom you began.

The fact is we are all impressing on people how to behave, how to prioritize, how to live.  The question is, what are the lessons we are teaching?  Who are we teaching people to imitate?

“Not many of us will be chosen to be famous or great like Peter, but we each have a shadow.  On whom does your shadow fall, and what is its effect?”  Steve Elliott

China Travelogue: 2017-05-27 to 05-28

Too much living, and not enough “logueing.” 😀  It has been some time since reporting on the Asia trip, but finally catching up as we are not as busy, as we head into K.C. for my sister’s and brother’s-in-law Golden Wedding Anniversary.   I missed another Sunday’s Christian Philosophy Blog . . . on Spiritual Disciplines, no less!!  But we traveled from Ulaanbataar to Terilj National Park in Mongolia over the weekend and met with our best friends in Mongolia, Dorjo and Tuya and now Hovor-Erdene.  More to report on those days as I finish the travelogue in the next few weeks.

2017-05-27 to 05-28
Today the hotel was in full “wedding mode” with a BIG wedding that was happening here.  Our favorite hostess, Zhao Wen Shuang, was on hand to help supervise the activities, although I imagine she has someone else to shoot the guns that will announce the nuptials are complete.  And, YES, they WILL shoot the guns!! (Blanks, of course 😉 )

However, we are heading to Anita’s Nanling Campus for her “make-up” class because of the weekend’s Dragon Boat Races that will close the campuses on Monday.  En route to Nanling, our LA informed us that there had been a collapse of the light rail where it operated underground, but gratefully, no one was injured as the section was empty of trains at the time of the cave-in.  As we passed that section, the work was already progressing rapidly to repair the damaged section.

The campus is in full bloom as the spring quickly passes into summer, but the temperatures are staying sweetly in the low to mid-60s (15-17C).  Anita’s class are alert and attentive even though Saturday is usually a day off.  They are meeting today as a “make-up day” for missing Monday when everyone was recovering from the International Marathon that was on Sunday.  Cannot give a reason for that; it is not like the students were competing; just a holiday, I guess.  But most of the college classes are doing the same thing, so it feels like a regular class day.

Today Joanne, an administrator who is a friend to our LA joined us to provide her car for Gan to drive, and he skillfully maneuvered through the traffic and even took the tunnel that Yvonne and Joanne usually avoid.  But he safely deposited us at the Din Xin Building where the faculty was gathering for some administrative tasks with our coordinator, the Section Chief of the Office of Teaching Affairs, Xiaohui Liu.

Before leaving the Din Xin Building, Anita and I went exploring a little and found the as-yet unused floors of 7, 8, and 9, and allowed access to the roof for some really cool shots, but much of it was inaccessible due to obstructions there.

Besides the wedding at the hotel, some graduates are also taking advantage of the season to tie the knot, and use the beautiful backdrop of the East Gate for some of their photos.

Joe and I embarked on a mission to locate the Changping Christian Church about which a friend who lived here for three years told us.  Krista Jacques was working for ELIC (English Language Institute of China) at the time, and had enjoyed the fellowship of this church.

Joe is an interesting Applied Physics student we met on our first excursion onto the campus, back on May 13.  I did not mention him at the time, as he did not respond right away to the email contacts we provided, but since has become a very good friend.

IMG_8325As our group was walking back to the June Hotel that day, I noted a young man following us rather closely, and became paranoid of pickpocketing from our experiences in Mongolia.  Without anyone else seeming to notice, I would slow the group down a little, expecting the young man to pass, but he would slow with us.  Speeding us up, he kept up the pace and seemed uncomfortably close to those at the rear.  After a couple attempts to leave him behind or get him to pass, I realized he was paying “too close” attention to our group, so I stopped walking and turned to look at him.  This would discourage most pickpockets as they usually do not want a confrontation, and I expected him, once “marked,” to walk on past us.

Instead this very polite young man approached us apologizing, realizing he was discovered listening to our conversation.  He introduced himself with his full Chinese name which we shortened to “Joe.”  He explained he was a student at JLU and when he heard native English speakers, wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to learn as much as he could, even just by listening.  Bruce and I provided him our email addresses and contact information as we shared a little of why we were in Changchun and Jilin U.  Joe very graciously thanked us and insisted we wait just a minute while he bought drinks for us from the store beside us.

When neither Bruce nor I had heard from him, we assumed we had just been a curiosity to him.  But he showed up on campus again, and attended my presentation to Bruce’s class (05/25), and to Anita’s small scholarship presentation (05/26).   There we scheduled for him to help me locate Changping Christian church on this Saturday.

I showed him the map where Krista had indicated the approximate location of the church building.  (If you read my Sunday blogs, you will know “the church” is not the building; it is the people who attend).  Passing some interesting “warriors” on the way, they seemed to be guarding a seafood restaurant.  The cabbie wanted a specific address, so we approximated one on a nearby street, and got out at one end of a park.  Unfortunately, I misread our map and asked to be let out there, and Joe’s English is still somewhat lacking, so he did not realize I did not know what I was doing! 🙂

As we walked to the other end of the park, Joe asked me what the building looked like, and when I said I had never been there before and had not seen it, he responded with his trade mark, “WOW, wow, wOWwww.” 😀

Once in the vicinity of the end of the park on our “map,” Joe did an amazing thing.  He saw a couple of elderly women approaching and said, “Let me ask.”  Definitely not an American guy :-D!!!  The women immediately responded with directions, so clearly, that even I understood most of where we were to go.

IMG_8321As we rounded a corner, he asked another passer-by who was carrying his daughter, and this fellow said he was going right by it, and would lead us there.  Arriving at the church building, we found it unlocked and went in to find a cleaning crew getting things ready for the meetings in the morning.  We spoke a little about how we knew of and found the building and we were excitedly welcomed to tomorrow’s meeting.  I asked one of the ladies to come outside for a photo, and she seemed very embarrassed about her appearance, but graciously came out, so we could get her in the picture with the address and street, for easy identification of the location.

IMG_8328.JPGShe gave us directions to where we could catch a taxi, but suggested we use the light rail, whose station was just as close.  On the way to the station, we passed a billboard that caught my eye.  I wondered if it had anything to do with abortion, but Joe informed me it was an ad for a birthing clinic, but still wonderful to see birth being celebrated in China, instead of regretted.

We joined the light rail and I commented to Joe that this train was like every other subway or light rail in the world, whether NY, LA, Japan, Italy, Bulgaria, Korea, or any other country where Anita and I had ridden the rails.  At the end of the day, weary workers return home from their jobs, many cat-napping on the train.  They are all alike.  Each has put in a long day and hopefully goes home to a family where love is rich, food is enough, and shelter is quiet.

We WeChatted Anita that we had been successful, and were taking the light rail back, not where the collapse had occurred, and told her our approximate return time to the office.  Upon arrival I notice a building we do not see from “our end” of the campus and commented to Joe about how LED lights enjoyed major attention by Asians.  Again, this is the same in almost all the Asian countries we have visited.

IMG_8384Joe joined us for a late supper at the Student Center after which we made our way back to our hotel.  Some safety officers passed us with armbands that were really cool!  These would be great for bicyclists at night!

 

2017-05-28
Last night we hit the sack as soon as we had arrived because the church meeting started at 9am and Joe was concerned the traffic could be a delay.  He very conscientiously wanted to make sure we would arrive on time.  At the same time, he wondered if he should attend, or if he might be a distraction to those who are followers of The Way.  He just seems completely courteous in a place where that seems in short supply!

It is wedding season where ever it is spring, and a group of red cars and ribboned vehicles passed us on the highway.  Must have been a “super” wedding with Superman attending the bride and groom in one of the autos.

We arrived very early with such little traffic this Sunday morning, and Changping has a coffee shop where we waited and visited while the first service was concluding.  The shop serves “real” coffee from freshly ground beans, so I had my first cup of real coffee since leaving Beijing! 🙂

The Changping group are a friendly, youthful lot, with emphasis on Bible reading and study.  For some more pictures, visit May 29, 2017, on Worship and Celebration.   This version of “The Bible Hand” shows all 66 books of the Bible, a miniature library, not one book (see January 25, 2015 ).

In the afternoon, we took in Pirates of the Caribbean’s latest installment, Dead Men Tell No Tales, which according to the Pirates series is hardly true!  Like the other Depp movies, this one was mostly brainless entertainment with funny scenes such as a foiled guillotine execution of Captain Jack Sparrow.  All the movies seem to be in 3D here on campus.

On the fifth floor of the Student Center, beside the theater, is a swimming pool!  We wondered whose idea it was to put a pool on the fifth floor, above a bunch of restaurants and shops.  Given what we have observed on some construction sites, we wondered what would happen if the wrap under the pool had a leak or, worse, if the concrete gave way?!  But some of the buildings are obviously built very well, and we hope this is the same for the Student Center.

 

The Lighter Side of Life – 18: Disciplines of the Spirit-led Life: Humility

Photon.jpgScience lesson for the non-scientist: photons.  We see everything in the world around us because of photons.  A photon is a massless particle of light that sometimes behaves like an energy wave rather than a particle.  (Like a wise friend says, “Don’t be impressed; you can look it up.”)   But no one has figured out how a particle can exist without mass; no one has figured out how a wave can have a definite position.  Furthermore, this “particle of light” moves at the speed of light, something that any real particle that has mass cannot do!  Basically, a photon is a mysterious “something” from which we can see its effect, but not the photon, itself.  Yet we know it exists because it allows us to view everything else clearly.  The frustration for the scientist is that as soon as he “looks at” a photon, it is changed just by his looking at it, moving at the speed of light which no eye can do.

Now what does this have to do with humility?  I surmise that humility is the photon of the spiritual realm.  Just as scientists study photons, it is worth our time to study humility.  But do not expect to practice humility while you are studying it; that simply goes against the nature of humility, just as shining a light on a photon runs against the nature of the photon.

To examine humility, just as a photon, we can learn more about it by looking at its effects, and perhaps its opposite.  Not being sure what the opposite of a photon is (darkness, maybe?), we can be fairly certain of the opposite of humility.  However, it is sometimes not what we would expect.

IMG_7775Pride is not always the opposite of humility.  I recall a mother whose picture I took along with her graduating son.  She was beaming with a ‘humble pride’ because of her son’s excellence in graduating.  There was no self-exaltation in her smile, no disdain nor arrogance over others who had not accomplished this milestone, no snobbishness or lordly contempt for others.  Rather there was a profound sense of selflessness in her pride in what her son had done.

When James says, “God opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble” (4:6), a better translation would be, “Towards the scorners He is scornful, but to the humble He gives favor” (Proverbs 3:34), which is James’ reference.  Isaiah gives some clarity on the opposite of humility with several references to “the haughty” (2:11), “the ruthless” (13:11), “scoffers” and liars (29:19-21), and even the religiously observant (58:3-5)!

The evil in “pride,” when it is the opposite of humility, is the self-congratulatory conceit that expresses itself in these forms of offense toward others.  This pride is a keen awareness of “self” and a satisfaction that exalts one’s own importance at the expense of others.

Another illustration of what humility is not comes from a very talented friend I knew in college.  He was a virtuoso vocalist with a four-octave range, perfect relative pitch, exquisite dynamics, and magnificent breathing and phrasing control.  However, he almost seemed ashamed of the gifts God had given him and the ease with which he could move crowds to tears or laughter with his singing.  (I was very jealous of him at the time, besides his having better face, muscles . . . well better everything than me!)  Having been raised in a very religious home, he wanted to use his gifts well, but felt that if he could do what he did so well, he was being “proud” and conceited.  His problem at the time was not that he was gifted, but that he paid too much attention to his gifts and not enough to their effects and from where they came.  He was faced with a dilemma of self-consciousness over the good that he could do.  He had not learned the lesson of Proverbs 22:4, “Humility is the fear of Yahweh; its wages are riches and honor and life.”

There is nothing to be ashamed of in being good at something.  His shame was from “self-awareness” that is the opposite of humility.  An artist can paint a beautiful mountain scene and stand back and say, “Wow! That is really beautiful,” without ungodly pride as though he was saying, “Wow! I am a great artist.”  See the difference?  The first reaction is a selfless admiration of something other than himself.  The second reaction is a self-congratulations on being better than others.  A mother can be “proud” of her son, without congratulating herself on being a better mom than any other.

So perhaps the opposite of humility is not pride, but self-awareness.  Have you ever noticed someone having a really good time at a party, completely unaware that he/she is the center of attention?  That is reflective of humility.  But shine the light of examination on yourself when you are in that position, and the humility is gone!

Therein lies the problem with humility.  We are almost constantly aware of ourselves.  In fact, it is very difficult not to be!  So how do you discipline yourself in humility without being aware of what you are doing??  Kind of like shining a light on a photon?

But such discipline is possible, else James and Peter would not have instructed us: “Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up” (James 4:10) and “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, and He will lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:6)  There are many examples of people in the Bible who “humbled themselves” before God . . . and many who did not!  Go to https://biblegateway.com and search the words “humble” and “humility” and you will find these.

The common thread you will recognize with those who humbled themselves will be that they developed a very clear sense of God’s presence (see August 20, 2016), and among those who were not humble, was a very clear sense of selfish rebellion against a good, good God.

So the best way to begin to learn humility is to come into the Presence of One who is bigger than we are; One who inspires awe, One who loves perfectly and is perfectly holy; One who created you and me.  When we stand before Him, or kneel or bow if you prefer, but when you really “see Him” who is unseen, you will be lifted out of your selfishness and caught up in a glory that you will enjoy more than anything else in the world, at the same time forgetting that it is YOU that is enjoying Him!  All the attention will be on Him, and on His direction for our lives.  We will see more clearly than we ever do when we are looking only at ourselves.

 

 

China Travelogue: Going By Soooo Fast!

2017-05-24 to 26
This Wednesday, 05/24, we took the same route as before to the campus and ran into the same traffic jam in the narrow road to the South Gate.  But knowing what laid ahead, we got out of the cab a little earlier and walked through the street market, kind of like a “Farmers’ Market” in Lexington, except that this is set up every day.

 

One shop was selling Anita’s favorite toilet seat covers, and another was selling something with some sinks, maybe the faucet or a faucet-mounted filter.  But the crowd kind of moves one along unless you stake a stand and determine that you are going to look at something specific or watch a demonstration.

Fresh vegetables, fruits of almost every type, and even fresh fish.  In America, “fresh fish” means it has not been frozen, but here, as in Hong Kong, “fresh fish” means it is still swimming until you buy it!

Several stands had hot breakfast items that I wanted to try.  We get up at 6am on these early class days and leave at 6:30, and our hotel diner does not open till 7am.  But, our LA explains we should not eat anything from the market because “our digestion” is not suited to it.  To me, if it is cooked well, it would have killed all the bacteria, but Anita agrees with the LA and so we skip eating any of the delicious looking pancakes and “you-tiao” (pronounced yau-tchau?), a long deep-fried bread, kind of like a doughnut, only not sweet.  They even had jugs of “moonshine,” homemade stuff of unknown alcoholic content!  And the jugs were very inexpensive!  Dividing by 6.8 to get the prices in USD, the big 10¥ one was $1.47!!

IMG_7759After Anita’s class, we made a short stop in to see Anita’s TA’s (Yvonne’s) class.  You may recall she is a PhD, who was a visiting scholar at the University of Montreal.  Her students are very shy, even for her, and sit far back in the class, but take careful attention to her lecture.  You may have noticed from previous pics of the classrooms, the students tend to organize the seats in groups, very unlike a Western school where students sit apart from each other.  This is very much like Mongolia International University.

Graduation is approaching and many of the seniors have already purchased their caps and gowns and almost every day, there are students with proud parents taking pictures of their “little emperors and empresses.”  This is perhaps the last generation of China’s “One-Child Policy” as now the government is recognizing that they need more children to replenish the population.  Reasonably proud of their children, one mother particularly beamed when this unknown Westerner wanted a picture of her son and his accomplishment!

 

IMG_7779.JPGDriving back to the main campus, the traffic moved somewhat slower than usual, but probably not because of the police car in front of us.  Chinese drivers seem to be “kings of the road” unless they specifically do something dangerous or harmful.  However, we noticed horns were particularly subdued while we were behind the police car, and we learned that the marquee over the cop was instructing people to control their horn-honking! 😀  But as soon as he turned off from our route the honking resumed to very frequent beeps and long hoooonks.

Back on the Main Campus, we made our way from the North Gate toward the Student Center for lunch, and noticed one of the tricycles I have not been able to catch a picture of on the road.  Much less common than they used to be, there are still plenty of them to elicit horns, but they usually move away so quickly, I do not have time to activate my cell phone’s camera.  While one of the goals of many students seems to be to buy a car, bicycles are still the practical way to get around campus, evidenced by the reefs of bikes set up by shops or the Student Center, with only one motorbike in the lot.

 

But for all the bicycles, still the majority of the 60,000 undergrads simply walk across the huge campus, creating an ocean of faces coming to the Student Center at lunch time.

IMG_7852Outside the university grounds there is a new “shopping center” with Jilin University’s name on the outside, but not really associated to the campus.  Set up like Mongolia’s malls, it is a close-quartered montage of small mom-and-pop shops where one can purchase just about anything . . . for a negotiated price.  Without prices on the items, we figured we would just shop where the prices would not get “adjusted” when the store clerk sees a Westerner.

IMG_7855Among the artifacts available are a couple of fans that Mikki would likely love to get her hands on, but the shipping from Changchun would cost 10x more than the fans!  So we will let her buy her own when she comes to visit here some January on her and Sean’s way to the Harbin Ice Festival.

IMG_7841We particularly noticed there was a shop that was a member of the JOOA, the Jilin Province Optimetric and “Optleal” Association, thinking this is one of those times someone without any English mistook the “i” for an “l” and a “c” for an “e.”  It kind of reminds me when someone gets a tattoo in America with a Chinese characters for “Power and Strength” only to find out that they have been inked with “wonton soup!” 😀

IMG_7862.JPGHeading back our hotel, some masonry tradesmen were on a break, and I took the opportunity to inspect their work.  Their skill is excellent, but they are only laying sand about four inches (10cm) deep in a region whose frost line is 36” (1M) deep!  That means after one or two winters, frost heaves will move the large stone tiles up and down and make the ground as irregular as some of the brick walkways around campus.  The men enjoyed my visit, especially when we were able to charade that I was a builder of houses in America.

IMG_7865Moments later we encountered Bob, one of Anita’s colleagues from UK, who’s LA had found a friend to loan a bicycle.  Anita posed on the rear the way we see many of the students riding, which raised Bob’s eyebrows as he was afraid she actually wanted him to let her ride!  The reason he borrowed the bike was to make traveling easier, not to carry another professor!!

IMG_8364Later, after supper, when we went back to the hotel, we saw an interesting gentleman collecting trash from the roadway.  He wisely was wearing a lighted vest whose lights blinked on and off as he walked along.  Cool idea, especially with the speeding autos that brush by him sometimes with only inches (centimeters) between them.

2017-05-25
Sunny days and beautiful temperatures have made the last few days Heaven on earth.  Needing only a light jacket or overshirt makes walking or riding bicycles very comfortable.

IMG_4564bIMG_4567This morning I was presenting a lecture for Dr. Bruce O’Hara whose class on Entrepreneurs and Innovation will get to hear about how and why I started Alliance Builders, LLC.  I opened by comparing lecturers who wear shorts and tee shirts to those of us who wear neckties to hide the size of our brains.  I hope the laughter was genuine of students who understood the humor, and not just seeing my smile figured they should laugh at the instructor’s joke!

Even though Anita did not have class today, we headed for the Nanling campus after a light lunch as she had a presentation of UK’s 2+2 program, coordinated with Jilin University.  It was advertised on WeChat and by word of mouth around campus that she would be presenting how to apply for the program so that students could attend UK in Kentucky for up to two years.

IMG_7901

Dr. Nancy Johnson of UK had prepared a video with testimonials from three Jilin U students currently attending UK, and Anita had a series of PP slides that presented how students could obtain scholarships, as well as views of the campus.  Over 150 students crammed into the room, most arriving early to get seats, and I noticed about 20 or 30 who gave up trying to get into the room!  One particular slide that elicited a clear response of “oohhh” was the one of the dormitory.  We have not seen inside a dormitory here yet, and I will ask a student to show us where he or she lives, to see what the dorms are like here.

The rest of the day was spent at our computers in our hotel, Anita grading homework and preparing her exam, and me working on my blogs and reading.

2017-05-26
Today we were planning to spend the day almost entirely in our hotel, Anita working on her class and on another presentation to the Main Campus, which has been somewhat difficult to arrange.  The internet in our room was working veeerrrrry sllooowwwllly, and even when we connected through UK.  Then I thought of how slowly the Pony Express would deliver a letter from New York to Lexington back in the 1800s and realize how spoiled we are when we get annoyed that sending electrons literally half way around the world takes more than a few seconds!

But then the electricity went out.  When it came back on a few minutes later, the internet would not connect.  So Anita went to the sink to get ready to go to campus, and there was no water!!  The internet connected briefly, but was still slower even than usual.  As we got ready to head to campus to use the “office” we had discovered on the 23rd, several profs connected on WeChat to complain about the same problems we were experiencing.  The result was several of us were going to head for the campus office.

The office is actually a large high-tech room on the fifth floor in the Library.  A smaller room to the side provided a little more privacy, but “listening” to the quiet in this facility is wonderful, instead of trying to ignore the constant horn-honking outside the open window in our un-air conditioned hotel room.  Temps are still only in the 60s (~15-18C) so the hotel room is fairly comfortable, but getting warmer.  The temp in there remains about 75-80F (24-28C).

We took the open “office” separate from the main room, and settled into it in case we needed to talk, so we would not disturb other faculty gathering in the main room.  The staff seemed surprised when they discovered we were in that room, and we thought we would be “evicted,” but they gave no instructions and we sat tight.  Later, when we went to lunch, one of the other profs from Kentucky gave us the code to the entry pad, so we could leave our computers there while dining.  Funny, because yet later, one of the staff asked us for the code to the room after seeing us enter it!  She explained it is a very new facility, a fact Dr. Bu had told us, and that the staff still did not know how lots of the features of the building worked.

 

There is a small B&W printer there, which Anita will use for her exams, and I took advantage of it to print an old-fashioned letter to our neighbors who are without a computer or web access.  I can imagine Joe’s and Edith’s delight when they get a letter from China, with stamps covering the back of the envelope! . . . even though it will be three weeks before they get it!

Outside the “office” is the rest of the library, but the facility is so new that most of the shelves are still bare or have plants on them.  However, most of the students are tech-savvy and utilize their computers or smart phones more than paper books anyway.  Changchun being the “Detroit” of China, auto design and technology are front and center, and the fascinating models in the hall make me want to go back and build model cars. 🙂

 

IMG_7989.JPGOn our way to supper we noted a little girl practicing with a Segway type scooter we have seen several of on campus.  A unique feature of the Chinese version seems to be the hybridization of a Segway with a Hover Board.  The stalk in the middle makes them easier and safer to ride than a Hover Board, but frees your hands and arms, unlike the Segway.

Just after supper we went to one of the campus administration buildings, which we were surprised to find does not house classrooms, being so large.  My guess is that with 100,000 undergrads and grad students, there are probably about 3000 or more administrators, not to mention their support staffs.  One of the symbols of Jilin University we often encounter was on prominent display here.  It is a portrayal of Christopher Columbus, who is honored here because of his exploratory determination and openness to new ideas.  Of course, “all work and no play makes ‘Ching’ a dull boy,” so there is a Ping-Pong table in the open area of the Business College offices.

 

Our meeting was to be in the Business College offices with students from the Main Campus, like Anita held yesterday at the Nanling Campus.  The professor with whom she set this up had complained of being very busy so many times, so that she almost canceled, but I suspect that when the Nanling meeting was such a success, she received word that he would have students meet at 6:00pm here.  The building is again very impressive with polished floors and plush conference rooms, in one of which she was to meet.  The room was very nice, but I was concerned that it would not hold very many students.  There was also a celebration of the “bull market” in the room.

IMG_8031The professor had only invited some specific freshmen which made the presentation of less value, in that most of these very few students would not be able to come to Kentucky for a couple years, just to improve their TOEFL scores.  Further, he informed Anita that only two of UK’s majors were eligible for Main Campus students’ participation.  However, he seemed genuinely interested in educating the students and required each of them to ask a question about the presentation.  Further, he informed us that some older students were already on their way to UK this fall from the school.

One student asked a question the professor called “dangerous”: “If after the two years I want to stay in the US, how can this be done?”  The professor kindly informed the student that the immigration officer would eliminate him from consideration for a visa to the USA if he asked this question when applying, and to be more careful in asking such questions.

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Any guesses what THIS is??  I will tell you in the next travelogue of our adventure in China! 😀

Back at our hotel, the facility was in full preparation mode for a big wedding to be held here on Saturday, May 27.