I woke up next morning feeling refreshed and ready for the first conference. I made a cup of coffee and looked out through my hotel window. It was a bright day.
I saw tall buildings, green trees and broad roads with orderly traffic. I was used to that sight in the USA. But there was a preponderance of scooters relatives to cars. This allows for less congestion, pollution and comparatively cheap transportation in a country of over a billion people, a sensible approach. After breakfast I headed downstairs for our first set of meetings.
The meeting was on the feasibility of a proposed world class research institute on growth factors to be built in Hangzhou. The meeting title was long and I captured it in the photo below.
The participants were scientists and members from the local government and investment community. We sat at tables wearing earphones. The discussions were in English or Mandarin and there was simultaneous translation. I got a microcosm of what working at the UN must feel like.
The rationale and plan for the institute was presented. This was a brand new, world class institute in the making. It was exciting and instructive to witness the vision, the resources and the planning that went into this endeavor. I also noted the involvement and the large footprint of the government in the proposed plan.
After a while there was a coffee break. Outside the room there was tables laden with fruit, pastries, biscuits, tea, coffee and fruit juices. The pastries were very tempting but I resisted and nibbled on some fruit. The picture above does not do justice, but I had orange slices on my plate.
The meeting continued. There was a celebratory moment when certificates and letters of appointment in beautiful red folders were handed out with a lot of hand shaking and back slapping. It was evident that this was a friendly, closely-knit group.
Afterwards we went outside to have our group picture taken. Too late! I realized I was wearing my transition lenses which started to darken as we were posing for the picture. I made a mental note not to repeat this mistake for future group photos.
After lunch we bundled into a bus for the drive to the station for the high-speed train ride to Wenzhou. Chen and the other students accompanied us on the trip and helped us with the check-in formalities. The station was big, well lighted and busy but there was ample seating as the passengers waited patiently for their trains.
We milled about chatting. Soon it was time to board the train. We had assigned seat numbers and luckily I got a window seat. I settled into the comfortable seat in preparation for the journey to Wenzhou and seeing another view of the Chinese countryside.