Random Stuff – Day 5

Well, I am going through the first 5 days at least how I viewed it.   Here are captions to the pictures below:

  1. A welcome reception by NCEPU and their delegation staff.
  2. Jessica Brumley (Honor’s & Flagship Student) wowed the NCEPU delegates with her Chinese (show off).  She did an outstanding job on the fly.
  3. Dr. Peter Hamburger explained what this trip means to him and his wife Mrs. Edit Hamburger.
  4. Didn’t know that the Chinese could roller blade.  Guess I was wrong.
  5. The 2012 China Experience Zhongghou Adventures at the Great Wall.
  6. Don’t believe how steep the climb of the Great Wall, just see for yourself.
  7. Wait, I know this guy.  Come on Dad you can make it.  What, you need a breather?  What was all that smack about the Great Wall?
  8. Still not convinced?
  9. Mr. Cody Hutchins posing as usual.  What a ham!!!!
  10. Woke up this morning to an eclipse.  Or at least I caught a portion of it.  Darn time difference, my body still hasn’t caught up.
  11. A year later, and I’m still a “Rock Star” in China.  It’s official, I’m moving.  LOL!!!

Stay tuned for more.


Getting Acclimated

Seems like yesterday I was a newbee to the mystic that is China. Funny how I feel like a local (even though I am clearly not), and how comfortable I am. Last year for me was such a stressful time. First, it was the first camp for the Confucius Institute, so everything needed to go off without a hitch. It did. Second, it was my first time to China, let alone abroad at all. Went well. Third, I had to quickly get acclimated with China and jump right in to head off any issues. Fourth, we had to put on a program for the Confucius Institutes sponsor Hanban, as WKU and President Ransdell presented Madame Xu Lin with an honorary Doctorate degree.

My what a difference a year makes. While so much is different, so much is still the same. Was able to instantly connect with my friends I met last year in Mr. Duan, Leonard, Cookie, and Li Bo. Three days in the books and it is amazing how much more I am enjoying this trip versus last year. I guess second time is a charm, because this trip is a keeper. I love the people on the trip. Amazing how big WKU has become as these are people that either work or study on the campus that I have never met. I have to say, this trip rocks. Everyone is settling in and getting acclimated with their surroundings or so it seems. Time will tell.

Preparing For The Trip

Whew, didn’t think I’d ever get packed, finished with all of my work, but I am officially on my way to the Nashville Airport.  Is it normal to feel like you are forgetting or forgot to do or pack something?  If so, all well, but if not, too late now.

Hello world!

Welcome to the official WKU Blog Site for the Confucius Institute at WKU’s China Experience 2012.  Last year, 44 faculty/staff, students, and community members took the adventure to China, and this year, the Confucius Institute at WKU will lead 28 faculty/staff, students, and community members to China.  Please follow our 2 week adventure beginning May 16 through May 30th.  The following individuals will be heading to China for the Confucius Institute China Experience 2012:

  • Jessica Brumley – WKU Flagship and Biology Student
  • Margaret Cobane – Community Member
  • Rebecca Davis – Native Chinese Student
  • Amanda Garmon – WKU Confucius Institute Language Student & Community Member
  • Evan Grantz – Honor’s & Flaship Student
  • Edit Hamburger – WKU Spouse of Dr. Peter Hamburger
  • Peter Hamburger – WKU Professor and Department Head Computer Science & Mathematics
  • Kelli Hogue – WKU Honor’s & Flagship Student
  • Charvinia Neblett – WKU Gatton Academy Student of Math & Science
  • Cody Hutchins – WKU Honor’s & Flagship Student
  • Anthony Martin – Community Member
  • Terrill Martin – WKU CI Group Leader & Associate Director of CI
  • Wei-Ping Pan – Director of ICSET & CI & Sumpter Professor of Chemistry
  • Hannah Pardue – WKU Flagship & Dance Student
  • Anton Stewart – WKU Student
  • Martin Stone – Associate Professor of Agriculture
  • Savannah Stone – SWHS High School Student
  • Lorraine Baushke – KCTCS & WKU Professor
  • Stephanie Hammons – Office Associate Honor’s College
  • Robert Deane – WKU Chief of Police
  • Lisa Horn – Principal at Henderson Alternative School & WKU Ed.D Student
  • Lynn Hines – WKU Ed.D Student
  • Christopher King – Assistant Principal & WKU Ed.D Student
  • Amanda Lich – Director of Development
  • Elizabeth Sholar – WKU Ed.D Student
  • Michael Stephens – Physician at WKU Health Services
  • Ronda Talley – Professor of Psychology
  • George Rasmussen – WKU Gordon Ford College of Business Professor

Please follow us as we document our daily adventures.

Field Trips

It is hard to believe we have only a few days left here in China.  We have seen and experienced so many things – and logged lots of hours in the buses.  Here are a few photos from some of our field trips from our base in Beijing.

At the pearl market, this lady strings pearls to make a necklace. You select a strand of pearls on a display string, then they string them into a necklace, tying a knot between every pearl.  They are very fast with nimble fingers.

On our visit to Tian’anmen Square, most tourists are Chinese.  They marvel at the foreigners and want to get their photos with us.  This picture shows a temporary decoration in celebration of the communist party’s rule.  They change decorations for big holidays.

In a park area, a local drew in Lisa and Marge to catch weighted fabric rings.  Lisa has mad skills at catching rings on her neck!  This man lures in tourists and asks you to send him a photo to add to his enormous collection.  All transactions are in international impromptu sign language 🙂

Forbidden Popcorn:  As you enter the garden of the Forbidden City, you might want to grab a snack.  Who doesn’t love popcorn?!

This is an example of Hu Tong, a traditional architecture style.  Many of the older buildings were demolished prior to the 2008 Olympics.  In a city of high-rise development, these single-story properties are prime.  They have modern conveniences added.

In the Hanban headquarters China Exploratorium they have interactive exhibits like this one where you can try on traditional dress.

In the Heavenly Temple park, this old man sat alone playing an unusual-looking instrument.

“Ms. Tea” educates us about varieties of tea and how to enjoy them.  And of course, encourages us to buy some from their shop!  Lychee with rose was my favorite.  If you have a friend who bought tea here, they can introduce you to “PeePee Boy”.

WKU Presents Madame Xu Lin Honorary Doctorate Degree

July 22, 2011, was a historic moment for not only the Confucius Institute, Hanban, North China Electric Power University.  Why you ask?  That date marked a time following action taken by the Board of Regents this Spring (2011), as the first time that WKU bestowed an Honorary Doctorate Degree off campus, let alone in China.

President Ransdell welcomed everyone to the “Recognition Celebration” for Madame Xu Lin, Hanban, and North China Electric Power University.

Next, Madame Xu Lin receives the first every “Honorary Doctorate Degree.”  Madame Xu Lin was awareded, and received WKU’s first Doctorate Degree off WKU campus and in China.

During her thank you speech, Madame Xu Lin, Director General of Education, in fact applied to WKU in 1988, and was ultimately awarded admissions; however, only 1/2 scholarship awarded, thus, she did not attend.

Lastly, even at this point, there was more to the celebration.  While here in China, the sole purpose was not a vacation to China.  It was to learn the cutlure and language.  Each day our diligent Zhongguo Adventurers traveled to class for 4 hours a day learning language and culture.  This day, was the culmination of the groups dedication to the mission of the trip, as we sung, “Ge Sheng Yu Wei Xiao” which is translated to “Bring the Song Home.”  We were all nervous, but as we started, the crowd clearly knew the song and really rallied behind us.  What an experience, is all I have to say.

All in all, the event was a success.  Dr. Ransdell, Dr. Pan and myself have learned a lot from Mrs. Lucinda Anderson, as she would have been proud.


NCEPU campus

My main purpose in the this quick post is to add some photos of life here on campus at NCEPU so our family and friends can see where we have been living for the last two weeks.

This is one of the carts and brooms used by campus staff. They sweep the street each morning of small fallen blossoms and leaves from the overhanging trees.


This is the infamous "squat pot". Fortunately our hotel rooms and some restaurants have "Western toilets" available. This type is typical in the classroom building and many other places.
Some of our rooms have small balconies that are good for drying laundry.


This is the school cafeteria, open short windows for three meals a day.
This is where most of our classes are held.


Great Wall Adventure

Today was a very eventful day from beginning to end.  First we started out with the WKU President, Dr. Gary A. Ransdell joining the group of Zhongguo Adventurers as we depart to the “Great Wall.”  Boy what an adventure it was.  Before I discuss the trip, I would like to insert the actual drive to the “Great Wall.”  First and foremost, our driver was a fearless, dedicated, and aggressive driver that made sure that our group safely made it to and from our various destinations.  However, it goes without saying how scared we all were the first couple of days with something as simple as crossing the streets.  Our first adventure off campus was to ICBC Bank to exchange our money the second day on campus.  I thought I was in New York City, as I have not heard so many horns blowing  at one time, except in New York City during rush hour.  Here is a list of items I have learned on the road:

  • When you hear a “beep,” you must be on the look out for coming your way.  This means you are driving to slow, you are about to be passed, or move out of the lane your in.
  • Driving in Beijing is not for the feint at heart.  If you are not an aggressive driver, you have no business on the road.  This even goes for pedestrians.  There is a sort of code for anyone or anything in the driving lanes.  It is sort of like “organized chaos.”  I have only witnessed 2 accidents, and if you have seen what I have seen, it is a wonder.  While drivers are aggressive, the point is not to hurt, hit, or wreck on the roads.  Everyone is actually courteous, but on a time schedule, nonetheless.

Ok, now back to the “Great Wall.”  Here is the whole group before we each prepare for the huge climb to the top.






I am deathly afraid of heights, but this being a once in a lifetime chance, I would not let my fear derail my chance to branch out of my comfort zone.  The steps are very steep, and if you don’t believe me, see the attached picture below:








The views were phenomenal, see below:

















At last, I made it to the top.  It only took about 1 1/2 hours to reach the top.  Whew.  Actually both me and the Mrs. made it to the top.








Oh, wait, that isn’t anything.  The elder of the group, Mr. Richard Burnette, who will celebrate his 75th birthday in November, climbed the top of the “Great Wall.”  Now that’s an accomplishment.  Way to go Richard!!!!!






Stay tuned for our visit to Summer Palace!!!

The Air We Breathe

On our trips to downtown Beijing, I’ve been taken aback by the amount of congestion and development, and the resulting environmental damage. Beijing has overcrowded highways and a plethora of high-rise buildings. The sky is a constant shade of gray. We haven’t seen blue skies since we’ve been here; the sun is just a gray ball.  “What have we, humans, done to this planet” keeps echoing in my head. 

The imbalance and unsustainable structure of our life on this planet is most evident in this country on the other side of the world from my home. These thoughts are not meant to be judgmental of the Chinese; they are only striving to obtain the same comforts and conveniences (air conditioning, automobiles, etc.) we have in the western world. To obtain this lifestyle, China produces 17% of the world’s greenhouse gases, while the United States produces 16% and the European Union produces 11%. Yet, per-capita gas house emissions are United States 24%, European Union 10%, and China 6%. It is frightening to consider the condition of the world’s air if China ever reaches United States’ per-capita energy use.

The United States, as the highest per-capita greenhouse gas producer in the world, has a responsibility to take strong leadership on the issue. Yet, of the 192 countries that have signed the Kyoto Protocol, the United States is the only country that has not ratified the agreement.

Much of the air pollution in China belongs to those of us in the west who demand cheap consumer goods.  Yet, we don’t have to breathe the air.

Quite a Blend

China has been quite an experience so far. The mix of an ancient culture and 21st century technology has resulted in an interesting blend. For example, the college students here dress very much like college students in the U.S. Some even wear T-shirts with English phrases and logos. But the students must rely on the university boiling their drinking water for them. They do this by dropping off large thermos-type containers at certain places throughout the campus, and then they pick up their water later. The tap water isn’t potable, and the students are not allowed to boil water in their dorm rooms, so the university provides the boiling service for them. Also, some university facilities workers on campus use modern equipment, such as jackhammers, while others move supplies about on old, three-wheeled pedal vehicles.

There is one English-speaking channel on the TV in the hotel, a CCTV news channel. CCTV stands for China Central Television, and it’s a government-controlled outlet. The big news today on the channel has been the phone-hacking scandal in Britain and the debt-reduction fight in the United States. When the station isn’t broadcasting news programs, it has documentaries. For example, earlier tonight I watched a program on the 60th anniversary of the peaceful liberation of Tibet.

I will have too many high-res photos to post all here, so I will put many on my Flickr account, Neil Ralston2008.