As the fireworks continue to blast off (day and night, mind you) until tomorrow when the Spring Festival draws to a preliminary close, I have spent the first few days getting settled in here in Hangzhou.
Hangzhou is a sizeable city about two hours southwest of Shanghai. I once visited when I was young but now I’m back for real. So far, I’ve found Hangzhou very welcoming. Par exemple, today almost all the buses stopped multiple times for people who ran to catch the bus. In Beijing, no way they would wait for someone. It’s in the little things, the details…
But most impressive of all is how CET/Middlebury is handling themselves as an institution heer in China. With my Shantou University experiences of bureaurcracy, English, and more, I know how hard it is to get a program, especially a foreign program to run at all, much less run well. Apparently, Middlebury has entered into an exclusive agreement with the Zhejiang Technical University (ZUT) (our university hosts), in which we are the only American/Western students allowed on the campus. That helps create a Chinese environment and that is very impressive.
However, first and foremost, Jeremy Friedlin gives a no bullshit orientation that is welcoming and refreshing. He tells it like it is. That is invaluable to Millenial Generation students — we can smell something fishy from a long ways off. As our Resident Director, he also knows what’s important: getting on the bus. I blogged about this in Beijing: in order to get to know a place and understand the culture, you must master their transportation. Our only real “activities” these first few days are to learn what buses go where and go there. Brilliant. So what if not everyone makes it where they need to go. Everyone learns loads by just getting on the bus. Thank god someone knows how to teach practical skills in China!
Middlebury College, if you are reading this, you need to hire Jeremy Friedlin to open the second Middlbury campus wherever in China that might be (Kunming?). You’ll have to pay him loads to get him and his family (cute kid, btw) out of Shanghai but it’s worth it. Trust me. Students, so far, praise his work as an Resident Diector because he is no nonsense and gives students confidence with a tad of caution.