Tuesday, December 30, 2014

One week until we are bound for China!

Augustana Blue and Gold - in the CVA Atrium, soon on the Great Wall!

CHINA BOUND!  (And flying the Augie colors!)

We are just one week away from beginning our journey to China, and at the rate of emails with questions flying my way, I'd say my fellow travelers are beginning to think this trip is "real!"  When one plans for SOOO long, it seems the big day will never come.  Yet now, that day is in sight.

That's me, Brad.
I (Brad Heegel) will do my very best to update you as often as possible during our tour.  I've been to China many times - three times before with Augie students and other times on my own.  I mention that simply to indicate that China is always changing....what I remember from our last time there may have changed completely this time around.  That's part of what makes this trip so exciting and interesting, and why one can never tire of heading there.  Granted, my biggest thrill is to watch Augie students react to China.......I can almost always bet on how they will respond to fish head soup, or to their first public toilet....or to meat hanging in a public street.  All common place in China, but quite different to our mid-western ways.  I hope to capture some of those reactions for you in this blog so you can get a sense of what I'm talking about.......and I know neither of us will be disappointed! 

When I'm able to get students to take a few moments to reflect and review on their trip, I'll have them join me on this blog.....I'm sure it will be more interesting to hear their personal reactions to things they encounter, and I promise not to edit them.  :-)  

As you may have heard/read, China blocks certain internet activities and programs.  For example, Facebook is banned.  It could be that blogspot.com (the vehicle I'm using here) may be blocked from time to time.  If you check in to the blog and don't find any updates, worry not - we may just be in a place where I'm not able to upload our activities and photos.  Keep checking back, and we'll appear at some point, I'm sure. 

Students return to campus on Friday this week (Jan 1) and by noon will begin final rehearsals and classes for their tour.  We have a big "Bon Voyage" concert on Sunday afternoon at the Washington Pavilion.  If you join us, you'll hear the entire concert we'll be performing throughout China, AND, you'll have the chance to cheer the gang on to wish them well as they represent us overseas.  The concert begins at 3:00 p.m. in the Mary Sommervold Hall.  Tickets are available at the door of the Pavilion OR you go can online and order them in advance (www.washingtonpavilion.org).  I do hope you will be with us!

Monday and Tuesday are full class/rehearsal days as well, and then the packing begins.  At 1:00 a.m. on Wednesday, Dr. Schilf leads 46 on a Reading Bus to Minneapolis.  At 4:00 a.m. that same morning, Dr. Pennington leads 20 more on a flight from Sioux Falls to Minneapolis (5:10 a.m. departure).  Editors note:  Who got the better deal on this one?  HA!  I will have left the morning before to be in Shanghai to meet the group when they arrive on Thurs, Jan 8 at 6:15 p.m.  Yes, it's a long trip, but maybe made a bit easier for the group as they leave together from Minneapolis and stop in Seattle prior to their non-stop flight from there to Shanghai, a 12 - 13 hour flight. 

Shanghai Pudong Airport.  New.  Big.  WOW!
Shanghai is one of the most populated cities in China. It has a permanent resident population of 23,019,200, of which 12.21 million live in the urban areas. Shanghai population accounts for 1.1% of the Chinese population, with the average density of 2059 inhabitants per square kilometers (3854 in the urban areas). There is a huge floating population of itinerant workers, probably numbering two million.  When our students arrive, however, they won't meet many of these people.  In fact, they'll be met by our national guides and our tour coordinator from the Interculture Society in Chicago.  They will be whisked away by bus to our first stop in Hangzhou, about two hours away.  Their first concert is the following night.  Whew!  Let's hope we all sleep on these flights!

Bon Voyage!

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