People to People Technical Communications Professional Delegation to China—Day 4

I didn’t sleep at all last night. I got out of the bed at about 2:30, as that’s what “they” say you should do if you’re not sleeping. I went over my presentation again a couple of times, and then tried lights out again. To no avail. I think the fact that I can’t get this room cool enough is not helping at all.

In spite of my alarm set at 6:00, and our wake-up call set for 6:30, I got out of the bed at 5:45, shaved, and showered. By about 6:05 I headed down to breakfast only to find that the restaurant didn’t open until 6:30, so I just hung out down there.

I didn’t have any healthier a breakfast today than I did yesterday, but I rationalized it by saying, “Well, I didn’t have dinner last night.” That’s my story and it’s sticking to me.

As it turned out, only 8 out of our delegation 20 ended up eating dinner out last night, and they got caught in an awful downpour on the way back.

After breakfast, which I ate in shorts and a t-shirt, I went back to my room and put on a suit. Then, I went back down to the lobby and actually stood outside for a while even though it was on the chilly side.

We left the hotel at about 8:15, and we headed to Peking University. When the bus pulled into the driveway it found itself face-to-face with a huge banner across the drive welcoming our group to campus. Unfortunately, it was hung too low in order for the bus to pass. We had to wait just a minute or so until someone came to cut it down. Cheers all around, as we entered.

Once we pulled up to the entrance of the meeting, about three men were rolling out a red carpet, but weren’t yet done. We were all very forgiving and saying things, while still on the bus, like, “How nice. How thoughtful.”

As we got off the bus Shawng said to us, “The Vice Chancellor of Indonesia is visiting today. Sorry guys; the red carpet is for him.” Busted.

All of the people we met, spoke with, and had discussions with at Peking University were so nice! It really was a great morning there. Professor Lai (Maosheng) presented first on the research and practice of technical communication.

Our leader, Linda Oestreich, presented next on the state of the technical communication profession in the United States. She had a rough start trying to show her information on a Mac using Word, but eventually got it situated well enough from which to present.

After a ten-minute break, which included a group picture out in front of the building, I gave my presentation on the MS in Technical Communication at North Carolina State University. From the feedback I received afterwards, it went well, with my favorite description of it being that it was “concise.” I mean isn’t that one of our goals as technical communicators?

Unfortunately, I took all of the pictures of the presenters with the flash off so as not to distract. And for some reason, that made them all come out blurry. Here I am, as good as it gets:

Debbie Davy followed me with her prevention on her MS in Technical Communications, a distance learning degree, from Mercer College. We had quite the Q&A session after her presentation, where “Fred” (which he offered up as an “American name”) asked some good questions.

Next up was Mr. Yao Le, who talked about how CIOs conduct technical communication in China.

Mr. Jin Jianbin talked about “Selling IT to the Organization.” And that was followed by a young, female PhD student filling in for Dr. Zhang Haoda on the Scientific and Art Digital Museum in China.

At the close of the meeting, the delegations swapped gifts, and we received shirts that say “Peking University” on them.

I walked over to the bus and rode over with Fred to the dining area. We had good conversation, and talked about how I might get some free WiFi access, though it never did come to fruition. We could both connect to the university free WiFi, but neither my iTouch nor his iPhone would render a browser page. Here’s a snapshot of “Fred”:

We had lunch at the university, with some very interesting food art. Here’s one of the main dishes. That pagoda is carved out of a very fat carrot.

Another piece of cool carrot art was on another dish:

This place had “Chinese-style” toilets and had the “added feature” of being an “Ally McBeal bathroom” (a.k.a. unisex), which I didn’t realize until after I came out of the stall (which basically contained a hole in the ground, so does it really matter) a picture of a woman on the door. The men’s area was straight to the back of the place, which I didn’t even notice, because I assumed I was in the Men’s room, and I usually use a stall anyway.

There was incense burning all up in this bathroom, too. I think we all know why.

At the end of our most delicious and filling meal, we took a final group picture in front of the offices of most of the Chinese delegation members, and then boarded the bus to head to BAST—Beijing Association of Science and Technology.

The meeting with BAST was much more formal feeling than the one at Peking University. Our national guide, Shawng acted as interpreter for our delegation, and the Chinese delegation had one of their own, a woman. It was quite amazing to watch and listen to both of them taking notes during especially long sentences and then regurgitating everything back in the other language. Impressive.

Paula Ludmann from our delegation presented here, and the title of her presentation was: Technical Communication: A Prescription for What Ails Online Medical Content. There was lots of interest in this topic and some good questions and discussion.

Once back at our hotel, I changed rooms from 1026 to 1236, where as it turned out the air-conditioning didn’t work worth a squat either. Oh well. I just took Jenny’s suggestion and opened the window, which was the deal. It’s quite cool here in Beijing, especially at night, and the breeze just pours in. Life is good.

After not much time at all, we were back on the bus and off to the Beijing Wang Fujing Roast Duck restaurant. This was a festive night, complete with “Western-style” washrooms. That always makes us happy.

When we first sat down, and Paula took off her jacket and hung it over the back of her chair, they immediately covered it up with this slip cover that went over her coat and the entire back of the chair.

After many different entrees on the traditional lazy Susan, the Peking Duck dish was served. You took this flat, very very thin, what looked like a soft tortilla, put a couple of pieces of duck on it, added some thick, black sauce to it, and a couple slices of scallions. Fold and eat. Yum. Yum. Yum.

Every once in a while, you’d hear this loud scream come from a table, which was when they threw a cooked scorpion onto the lazy Susan. I believe someone at a table near us actually ate theirs.

Our group was separated into two tables and after a good while into the meal someone started telling jokes, Jenny I believe it was. I think the first one she told was a pun. Little did they know how that would get me started.

I told the “Why the long face?” one, the cannibals eating the clown one, and the Juan and Amhal one. Jenny had some very funny musical instruments jokes.

We had so many entrees come and go, and at one point when a second soup came, Nadine later told me that they weren’t quite sure if it was another kind of soup or a finger bowl to clean their fingers.

Due to sleeping only in a nap between 7:30 and 9:30 last night, and then being awake all night, I was absolutely exhausted when we returned from the restaurant at about 10:00. I jotted down just a couple of blog notes before dropping dead in the bed.

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