Connections matter, says Sam Houston.
Relationships matter, says Dr. Fran Nolan.
The warm welcome we receive in Beijing has been more than a decade in the making.
It is a 14-hour flight from Chicago to Beijing — even longer when you include the escalator to immigration, the train to baggage claim, the bus ride to the hotel, and finally the elevator to our rooms. But, as you can see, our students were in great spirits upon arriving to compete in the 37th Annual Beijing Youth Science Creation Competition (BYSCC).
Meet Jeremy. Jeremy greets us at the airport, proudly sporting his Chapel Hill t-shirt. Keith Poston, the executive director of the Public School Forum of North Carolina, and his wife were on this delegation last year, and Mrs. Poston and Jeremy bonded — enough so that Jeremy has since been to visit and affectionately calls her as “Mom.” He texts her at the airport to let her know he’s got us.
We are staying at the International Conference Center at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences. It’s about an hour north of Beijing, and we arrived just in time for the welcome banquet.
Li Hong was waiting for Dr. Nolan when we got off the bus. These colleagues are also now old friends.
The welcome banquet is an opportunity to learn about the competition, meet the other delegations from around the world, exchange gifts and toasts, and enjoy an incredible array of traditional Chinese delicacies — from blueberry yams to shishito peppers to spicy lamb to duck coated in peanuts.
I was happy to see the “girl effect” in full effect.
All of us received a gift — a beautiful Cloisonne plate. The note says, “Cloisonne is famous traditional handicraft of Beijing, which has more than 600 years history in China. Welcome friends all around the world to visit.”
An amazing welcome we will not forget. Many thanks to our lovely hosts.
Editor’s Note: Sam Houston serves on the Board of Directors of EdNC. Burroughs Wellcome Fund supports the work of EdNC.