Monday, July 2, 2012

Wake Forest University, China, and the GIFT OF MUSIC

Early last fall WFU music professor and classical pianist, Peter Kairoff, came to visit me in the office of the Byrum Welcome Center.  He, along with the Chair of the Music Department, Stew Carter, came to say thanks for helping to recruit the wonderful Chinese students who were choosing to minor in music at Wake Forest University.  Peter asked what they could do to help in recruiting more of these talented students.   As we talked we three began to dream--"what if we offered a musical concert in China."   "Could we possibly be able to offer a musical concert that would attract our students, potential students, and their families and friends?" We continued to think of the possibilities.  Sitting there, we also talked of the difficulty of logistical planning for such a huge event, how hard it would be to produce materials in bilingual format, the challenge of organizing a performance from so far away.  But the more we talked, the more we were beginning to consider this as a possibility--despite the great challenges.  "Could we even think of such a possibility?"  I asked.  And Drs. Carter and Kairoff said, "Yes, by all means, let us consider this."  And the spark was lit!

This idea was right.  Time has shown it to be true.  While we could have planned other events, such as an athletic showcase, debate tournament, executive education, or even a symposia on current issues,  none seem as fitting as this one---to offer the gift of music.  A liberal arts institution that promotes not only the quest for academic excellence but also a love for beauty, Wake Forest's inaugural visit to China will feature beautiful classical music--and lots of it.  Professor Kairoff will perform selections from J.S. Bach as well as American composers for a delightful evening of piano music played on a beautiful Steinway generously provided by John Patton and the Steinway Company in Shanghai in the lovely performance hall of Dulwich College, Shanghai, Pudong, with hospitality provided by Fraser White and the Dulwich College management team.  On Sunday afternoon, Peter will lead a master class, which will feature his own WFU music students who are home in China for the summer and will join him on stage to help illustrate current practices in piano pedagogy.

Music, this lovely gift for the senses, with capacity to lift us to a place of civility and compassion, to calm our fractured lives, and to create a space for clarity and focus of mind, will be our gift to our new friends in China.  A spark has been lit!   

Onward we go.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Wake Forest University in Shanghai--the WFU CHINA INITIATIVE

As we begin this inaugural journey to China this week, I want to document some thoughts about higher education, Wake Forest University, and China. 

This is a most unusual moment in higher education.  I know that every generation feels unique and special. This particular moment in time, however, truly seems monumental.  At this moment, the international opportunities now available to USA higher education are enormous--especially between China and the USA.  Right now, this moment, the potential for shared educational experiences seems limitless.   The opportunity to share our American culture, our way of thinking, our way of teaching and learning, our way of being in this world is truly now!  And the opportunity to learn from the Chinese culture, their way of thinking, their way of teaching and learning, their way of being in this world is truly now! 

Wake Forest University has invited 39 undergraduate students from China to join our Deacon Family for this fall entering class 2012.   Our responsibility is huge as we seek to provide an opportunity for this mutual exchange of  Sino-American intellectual life and social exchange to take place on our campus.  The benefits for all of us are tremendous.  We will learn; they will learn.  And we will all improve our very own culture, our way of thinking, our way of teaching and learning, our way of being in this world. 

Our WFU Creative Services team, led by creative designer Hayes Henderson and project manager Gretta Kohler, designed the above banner.  The icon, shaped in the form of an ancient Chinese seal, symbolizes this historic educational  exchange with two hands, or two cultures, positioned side by side.  We reach our hands to new students and families and new partners in educational collaborations in China.  In turn, these new students, some with parents who will never have the opportunity to visit us here in North Carolina, reach their hands to us by being willing to travel far away to study on our campus and join our Deacon family.   

The design team also captured the art of  Chinese paper design and intricate ornamentation in the design of the delicate header that surrounds the icon of hands.  While China and the USA may differ in styles of teaching and learning, classroom presentations, and innovation and creativity in education, the love of beauty remains a common expression for both cultures.  The mutual love for art, for nature, for music, for beauty powerfully transcends any cultural barriers.  For this reason, Wake Forest University travels to China, for our very first visit, with music, lots of it----featuring Dr. Peter Kairoff and his wonderful artistry at the classical piano.  

Represented here in this delicate design is the color red, symbolizing the joyful and happy educational collaborations that await for us in the future.  Red, a color symbolizing great joy and happiness in both Chinese and American cultures, aptly describes our long-awaited ,joyful anticipation of this exchange between Wake Forest University and China.  

We eagerly await this trip!

Wake Forest University in Shanghai July 14-15, 2012

Wake Forest University will be going to Shanghai, China July 14-15.  With fourteen WFU representatives of our faculty, staff, alums, and members of our student body, we will be personally welcoming the newly-enrolled students and their families to our entering class of 2012, introducing WFU to prospective students for next year, meeting new friends in higher education, and visiting faculty and schools area high schools.  Dr. Peter Kairoff, classical pianist and WFU Professor of Music,  will be performing at Dulwich College, Shanghai on the evening of July 14.  A Chinese banquet will follow that evening to honor our corporate sponsors for this event:  Boston Scientific, CNA-USA, Edison Learning, Lenovo, Steinway Shanghai, and Kilpatrick,Townsend Stockton. On Sunday, July 15, Dr. Kairoff will offer a master class for students and parents, educators and performers, who are interested in piano pedagogy.  Several of our current students who are from the Shanghai area will be performing with Dr. Kairoff on Sunday afternoon. 

The week prior to the concert, Wake Forest University representatives will be:
 meeting enrolled students and their families; 
making contacts with area corporations for future internship and recruitment opportunities for our WFU students in Shanghai; 
visiting high schools, 
and meeting educators who are interested in exploring opportunities for greater collaboration between Wake Forest University and China.

We are going to Shanghai to say thank you, xie-xie, to our new Wake Forest University families from China.  We will keep you posted on our experiences here.