Thursday, October 11, 2012

From Winston-Salem, to Chicago, to Beijing and beyond!

I am currently in route to Beijing China.  With WFU banners in tow, display table runners, small hospitality gifts (branded of course with the full name WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY), and two boxes of business cards, I am off to spend over three weeks traveling through China.  I will be visiting over 25 Chinese high schools, interviewing students who want to study at WFU, making new friends, and learning more about education reform in China.  Wake Forest University continues to find opportunities for educational programs and collaborative ventures with high schools and colleges/universities in China.

Because this blog is part of the Google family, I am not confident that I will be able to continue these musings once I arrive in China.  Compatibility between China and Google, as you know, is not always available.   If you do discover that there are blank notations, please rest assured that as soon as I can make connection I will continue to make these records.  I will be traveling all across China looking for the brightest and best Chinese students to come to Wake Forest University.  I will return to the United States November 1.

I hope to see you here before then.   You can reach me:  I will be checking email and keeping up with correspondence.

Onward  . . . . . .. . . . . .

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Home for a few days, then to China on Thursday!

Arrived home late Thursday evening.  Preparing to leave for China early next Thursday morning.   Will have more stories to share from the road.  Stay tuned here. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

WFU at the Lycee Francais in Uccle, Belgium

Another adventure this morning! I was invited to speak to the American Literature class of Madame Karine Salek at the Lycee Francais Jean Monnet in Uccle, Belgium. I left Waterloo,where I am staying, with taxi driver and now my new friend, Woytek, who came to Belgium from Poland several years ago. Fortunate for me, Woytek,knows the back streets well and manages to deposit me at the right address and the right time. We also have French lessons on the way. Woytek speaks Polish, Russian, Dutch,French,and thank goodness, English. This morning's ride and language tutorial was especially important because of this exclusive invitation to visit a very influential French school in Belgium who belongs to a host of other French school across the world, including Shanghai! Their focus has traditionally been to send their high school students to France, or maybe England, but not the USA. To receive this invitation for WFU was not to be declined. But I needed to at least begin my presentation in French. You know how French speakers are to English speakers. So we practiced in the taxi. When I met the headmistress of the school, I could at least introduce myself and respond with a greeting in French. It was very important to at least try--it always is. But the strange part of this Belgium morning spent in this famous French school was that I was speaking in their Chinese language classroom. And these beautiful European faces, with the blond hair and blue eyes, along with the jet black hair and dark eyes and their tall noses, could speak Chinese. And when we could not uderstand the word--spoken in English or French, we reverted to spoken or written Mandarin. Is the coming,future, lingua Franca of the new world going to be Chinese???? It certainly seemed like it this morning! Who knows? If so, as Americans we certainly need to be willing to engage the world in whatever language. And as WFU takes its place as an international educational community, we need more students to come to us who see the world through not just one language, but many tongues, including French and Mandarin. Onwards. Heading home to North Carolina tomorrow, where I can rest my head and my tongue, check on my dear family and friends, and change suitcases. Heading to China next week--there the words come easier than French. I can understand and be understood. C'est bon! Tres bien! Hen Hau! Onward we go...........

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

WFU in Belgium

The Chateau--International School of Brussels

The taxi entered through a security gate, announced my name, and we entered. A lovely, imposing European chateau was in front of us. With imagination, I could see the eighteenth-century carriages waiting for the powdered-wig and silk-bustled mesdames and messieurs to descend the steps and enter their waiting coach for a ride through the forests. In another glance,what I saw was an universal end of the school day event--laughing kids hanging out on the front steps of their school waiting to go home at the end of a long day. This was the International School of Brussels (ISB). This school located in the middle of a most beautiful forest hosted the Fulbright College Fair last night. Ninety-nine USA colleges/universities were there, and over 700 European students, American students from expat families,teachers,and administrators were there. Education USA taped a 10-minute spot about Wake Forest University for their European marketing. They also asked for another 10-minute advertisement about WFU in Mandarin Chinese. I was happy to both. But wandering around Belgium these four days, I realize that to do well here I really need to work on my French and Dutch. Thank goodness for some patient French teachers in high school and college I can muddle through. But alas, Dutch---I have no idea. But this is the reality of last night--just about every third culture student I met could speak all three--French, Dutch,and English. We invite them to consider WFU! It's a big world out here!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Looking back on London--tea with Marie-Anne Duncan

Left London last night. Before leaving I had afternoon tea with one of our new WFU families--the Duncans of Kensington. I met them last year while visiting in London. They were introduced to WFU at the Fulbright Fair in Kensington. Because of that evening their son Pierre decided to apply to WFU, was accepted, and then was enrolled in the entering class of 2012!   And this year, while Dad Matt is visiting Pierre and WFU for Parents Weekend, I have opportunity to have tea with Mom Marie-Anne in their lovely home in Kensington.  Pierre, she reports, is loving WFU--everything about it!

One of the most delightful parts of my work is meeting our WFU parents--especially our international ones. Pierre's mother is from France. In her kitchen in her beautiful traditional British home, she has three huge clocks positioned on the wall in order to keep up with her international family.  One clock keeps time for the oldest daughter who is studying at USC-California. The second one holds time for Pierre, Eastern Standard Demon Deacon time. The third clock holds the time for the family in London,especially for the youngest daughter,Claire who attends the French high school in London. More and more international families are calling Wake Forest University home. Pierre Duncan and his family have made the connection to North Carolina time from Paris and London.  From France, from the United Kingdom, from China, from India, from the Middle East---our new students and their families are connecting to Deacon time. And it is about time!  

It's Deacon Time in London at the home of Matt and Marie Anne Duncan in Kensington, London!

In Brussels

I am in Brussels, Belgium preparing to represent Wake Forest University at The Fulbright College Fair at the International School in Brussels tonight. I am looking forward to a breakfast meeting with our USA Ambassador Gutman in the morning. Ambassador Gutman is a friend to USA higher education and is very interested in WFU.  One of the reasons we are finding Belgium to be such a warm and receptive place is due in no small measure to the hard work of Ambassador Gutman.  Our USA Ambassador is truly a public servant; he has visited 479 cities, towns, villages in Belgium.  Where there was no town center, he has literally knocked on the door of the house and introduced himself to the owner.  They love him in Belgium.  He is serving us well!   I enjoyed meeting our Ambassador to Belgium, sharing breakfast in the ambassador's residence, and thanking him for his support of Wake Forest University.  After our breakfast he went to his daily French and Dutch class then prepared the last-minute edits of his speech to be presented to the new branch of the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) from Greensboro.  Small world, isn't it?

Go Deacs! On a less positive note, but also a reality of the road and the defective batch of new computers, my computer has crashed. So glad to have IPad and phone to stay connected. Good road warriors learn to adapt. I am learning!

USA Ambassador Gutman
Ambassador's Residence
Brussels, Belgium
October 2, 2012