Thursday, January 15, 2015

"The BEST day ever!" (And review from Thomas Norland)

Look at what met the Band as the bus arrived on the campus of Hubei University!  This was not the ONLY sign!

One of our highlights of our 2007 tour to China was a visit to Hubei University, a school of approximately 13,000 students located in the heart of Wuhan.  Students who were with me then still remark about their visit and about how warmly we were welcomed and what fun they had when they visited.
Preparing for the official photo of our visit.

I’m happy to report that the “Class of 2015” feels exactly the same way.  In fact, I've repeatedly heard, “This was just the best day ever!”

AUGUSTANA.  In Mandarin. Honest.
We arrived at Hubei University at about 9:30 following a greeting at the hotel by a number of HU students who also provided name badges for each of us.  Upon arrival on campus we were invited into a welcome reception.  As we entered the building, students lined up on either side of the hallway and clapped as we walked through…….the Augie commencement “gauntlet” comes to mind! 

Well, if that doesn’t make you feel welcome, I’m not sure what does!  

Introductions and speeches followed – we met the Vice President of the University as well as representatives of various departments, and we received some special gifts from our hosts as well – gifts we all will cherish for the years to come.  A “photo op” followed on the library steps, and then we broke into three groups to spend time with some Chinese students who had prepared some special activities. 

The group I was a part of spent a good time meeting and visiting with one another and then did three Chinese demonstrations:  knot making, caligraphy, and paper cutting.   What fun to learn the intricacies of each, and how humbling to learn that you are not very good at any of them! Other groups were entertained musically as well as via additional demonstrations of Chinese cultural activities.  We each received
A proud Jake!
tours of the campus and enjoyed a truly marvelous lunch featuring many of the area specialties, a favorite being the fried lotus root and rabbit on a stick!  Indeed, the rabbit was one of the spicier dishes and many in the band LOVED it!

Prior to our afternoon rehearsal, the group had a very special treat - a show, just for us, by the Hubei University dragon and lion dancers - yet another "highlight" of the day (although there were many!)  This team has won international competitions and travels the world over.  It's easy to see why.  Their performance was fabulous, and then (and THEN) they let Augie students give it a shot as well.  Now THAT was fun.  You have simply not lived until you've seen our students try to do a dragon dance.  Promise.

Becca and Lucy give it a whirl.....
Andrew attempts the impossible....

Dinner at the University was as good as lunch, and our performance for the University began at 7:00 p.m.  We played for approximately 50 minutes and then the HU traditional Chinese music ensemble performed for and additional 45 minutes.  I think it would be fair to say that the audience which had packed the hall were treated to a truly excellent night of music!  

Following our concert, an official group photo followed more visits between our students as well as non-stop photo ops.   The smiles and laughter were contagious, and it was hard to be the bad guy who stood up and called it to an end.  All good things, you know........but was simply the "best day ever."

Thomas Norland, trombone, had this to say:

"Today we visited Hubei University in Hubei, China.  While at the university, we were treated as a combination of honored guests and family members who hadn’t seen one another in eight years  The hospitality and kindness showed us was outstanding.  We were shown around the campus, invited to participate in their culture, and held conversations with our gracious hosts.  The thing that surprised me the most was what happened following the conclusion of the concert:  Jake and I  took at least 100 pictures with a combination of musicians from their ensemble, our guides for the day, and members of the audience.  We literally had a line of Chinese girls and guys that wanted to take pictures with the two of us because they thought we were so handsome.

Neither of us had ever smiled for so long or taken that many pictures in succession.  Today was a unique and enjoyable experience for all of us in The Augustana Band."


Brad and Prof Li, Dean of the Int'l College of Hubei Univ
Paul and Prof Liu, Director of International Office
Special thanks to Professors Li and Liu for their work in creating a most special day for us.  And a very special thank you to the students of Hubei University for being such wonderful hosts and taking such excellent care of us.  You have no idea how grateful we are, and how much we look forward to returning.  THANK YOU! 

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