Brian the Sociologist's Blog

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ming Chuan University and our trip is nearly over

Our trip is nearly over.  I may have a chance to post again, but among a final day of sight seeing, packing, and seeing some past student this may be my last post before we hop on that plane home.  We spent the day with Ming Chuan University and I want to say thanks to Dr. Yien, Carol, and Carine for their genuine hospitality.  You made us feel at home.  We saw a great presentation on leadership by Professor Wang and enjoyed a tour of the Ming Chuan Taoyan Campus.  We had the chance to meet with 11 Ming Chuan students and some MCU faculty who will soon be joining us at SVSU and we look forward to seeing you in Michigan.

Ming Chuan University also hosted us for dinner along with 16 other SVSU students and Dr. Elizabeth Rich who arrived from Michigan at 10 PM last night.  Honestly, some of them still looked a little shocked to be in Taiwan and it was strange for me to reflect on the fact that many of our Roberts Fellows carried the same expression a few short weeks ago.  These students will be studying at Ming Chuan for the next 4 weeks and I know that they are in good hands.  It is nice to know that there will be some SVSU students still carrying the flag for our university as we depart.

The RF14s are truly an impressive group of people.  They have met the challenges of this trip with patience, poise, and often laughter.  They have been open-minded and friendly to people from various cultures and demonstrated that they have the skills and commitment to be forces of positive change in society.  They deserve credit for this as this has come to them through hard work and dedication.  I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with these students and to be a part of this program.

P.S.  Long live Jones.

Thanks to Ming Chuan University for hosting us and to Professor Wang for a great presentation on leadership

What?  The RF14s have been magically transported to Australia!

Touring Ming Chuan University

Justin is sitting on an 800 year old chair!

Emily showing off her mad pottery skills in the ceramics district of Taipei

We met another group of SVSU students for a dinner hosted by Ming Chuan University.  Great to see so many Cardinals in Taiwan!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Shih Hsin University and Farewell to Anne!

First, I'd like to thank Jennifer Lin, Peter Lin, Tzu-Hsiang Yu and all the students from Shih Hsin who graciously hosted our visit today.  Shih Hsin has a beautiful campus and we enjoyed learning some aboriginal dances, touring campus, and visiting Baoan Temple, Fort San Domingo, and Tamsui.  We also had a great time seeing four SVSU students who are currently at Shih Hsin for the semester.  I would also like to thank Dr. Peter Mu who hosted a wonderful dinner for us at Shanghai Shanghai restaurant.  Dr. Mu is an honorary Roberts Fellow and has a long history with our program.  Finally, I would like to bid farewell to Anne, who is flying back to Michigan early tomorrow morning.  We celebrated Anne's last night with a foot massage at Shihlin Night Market.  Anne, thanks for all of your help on this trip and we look forward to seeing you back home!

I've been to a lot of temples in the PRC, but Baoan Temple was hands down the most beautiful and ornate temple I have ever visited

Intricate carvings everywhere

Fort San Domingo

It was REALLY hot so we stopped for ice cream.  A LOT of ice cream.

Some new friends from Shih Hsin joined us

We also had tea at Yuan, a Taiwanese shop that sold only locally grown sustainable tea products

Thanks to Jennifer Lin for all of her help making arrangements!

A fabulous dinner at Shanghai Shanghai thanks to Dr. Peter Mu

Hey Mom!  I ate some durian fruit just like I said I would!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Hello Taiwan!

We were warmly welcomed by our Ming Chuan University hosts upon our arrival in Taiwan today.  We are looking forward to our visit with Ming Chuan University, and Hsih Hsin University.  I can't believe that the trip is coming to an end in only a few days.  Since we spent most of the day getting from Tokushima to Taipei, we only had a couple activities today.  One was a visit to the Taipei Confucius Temple and the second was a truly extraordinary dinner at the Grand Hotel.

The Taipei Confucius Temple

The Taipei Confucius Temple

Inside the Grand Hotel

It really was grand!

Enjoying a fabulous 10 course dinner with our friends from Ming Chuan University

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Roberts Fellows don't slow down at the end of a trip, they speed up

First, and most importantly, happy anniversary Holli.

Wow, what didn't we do in the past couple of days?  We had a great time and the students loved all the activities that Shikoku University planned for us.  For the last 48 hours or so we have been working with students from Shikoku University as part of their English Workshop (basically an overnight English camp held at a traditional Japanese resort on Mt. Bizon).  They didn't have internet at the resort so I have a ton of photos still to post.  We are also leaving early tomorrow morning for Taiwan so this is an abbreviated post.  Here's the summary in no particular order: boat ride to whirlpools, hydroponic strawberry picking, Pacific ocean from the "other" side, karaoke, Japanese-American skits, traditional communal bath, Japanese lessons, slept on a tatami mat, traditional indigo dying, tour of Shikoku, chopstick contest, charades, pizza party, drama class, and more.  There are some seriously funny touts of all this so make sure to check them out.  Thanks to Chairman Sato, Mark, Richard, and everyone else at Shikoku for their kind hospitality.  Now for the photos:

Traditional indigo dying at Shikoku.  This is WAY more complicated than I thought.

Hands deep in vats of indigo dye.

Giving a present to Chairman Sato of Shikoku University.


Skit planning

The view of Tokushim from Mt. Bizon.

Chopstick contest!

Hanging out with some Shikoku students at dinner.

Shikoku University was VERY welcoming!

It was a beautiful sunset.

We had a lot of fun after dinner.

Including some charades

And karaoke, of course

Those Roberts Fellows know how to work the stage.

Thanks Shikoku University!

We stopped by a hydroponic strawberry farm the next day

We also stopped at a beach on the Pacific Ocean.

Roberts Fellows jumped for joy.

We also hopped on a ferry to watch some tides collide into giant whirlpools

And saw some ships in the distance

Only one country left and I want to thank Andy and Anne for being such great travel companions.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Roberts Fellows in Asia: Phase 2

We arrived in Tokushima yesterday after about 3 hours on a train.  Tokushima is located on Shikoku island.  I've been thinking of today as the start of Phase 2 of the our trip to Asia because we shift gears here and will be hosted by three different universities for the rest of our trip.  The Roberts Fellows represents a unique opportunity for students, not simply because they travel to Asia, but also because they also have the opportunity to operate as SVSU ambassadors and interact directly with students from both Japan and Taiwan.  In essence, they have spent a year in seminars learning leadership skills, meeting with national and community leaders, and implementing their own service-learning projects.  We then spent the last 10 days or so challenging students to leave their comfort zones and engage with environments that are, for the most part, very unfamiliar to them.  Now it is time for them to step deeper into understanding and interacting with Japanese and Taiwanese cultures and, truly, represent the entire SVSU student body as they meet with students, faculty, and staff from Shikoku University, Ming Chuan University, and Hsih Hsin University.  Honestly, it is a great honor and I am grateful to have the opportunity to travel with them.

On a practical side note, it also means that our daily agendas from here on out are going to be pretty full.  At times, such as tonight, the students are going to be away from the faculty and with Shikoku students so I won't be able to capture any Touts or photos.  I'll do my best to keep you all updated and post what videos and photos that I am able to get.  As for now, here are some photos from yesterday's visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Miyajima Island.

One of the memorials by the Peace Park.  It has roof tiles that bubbled due to the heat of the blast.

The A-Bomb Dome is a landmark because it was one of the few buildings that was not destroyed in the blast.

In this model the A-Bomb Dome is almost directly underneath where the bomb exploded.  Nearly everything else was destroyed more or less instantly.

Roberts Fellows brought paper cranes to the Children's Memorial.  Why?  Read this.  You can also send paper cranes.

After the Peace Museum we enjoyed a relaxing and reflective afternoon at Miyajima Island.  More than one RF commented that it was a bit like a Japanese Macinac Island.

This is for you, Mom.  One of their specialties is large, fresh oysters.

This torii gate is iconic of Shintoism.  Next year I want to run or hike to the top of the mountain in the middle of the island.


It is difficult to describe visiting the A-bomb dome and the Peace Museum in Hiroshima.  In truth, I kept hearing about what a moving experience it was and I was a bit skeptical.  It really was everything that people said it would be.  Check the Tout feed for some video, including a short one of some Japanese school children in front of the Children's Memorial.  I'll post more later about the experience, but for tonight I'm just posting a photo of a statue in front of the Peace Museum.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Andy smiles his way to Hiroshima

I'm tired so only a short post tonight.  We made it safely to Hiroshima.  Let's just say that Andy was really happy that we got here.


Still smiling!
Delicious Hiroshima okonomiyaki at a little diner

Breakfast at Mr. Donut.  To my surprise, the pastry on the right was filled with macaroni and cheese.

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