I’m Going to Miss That!!!

And here it is, part two of my little series on my time in China. Below you will find a listing of the fabulous things that I will miss about China. Enjoy!!!

  • A complete meal cooked right before my eyes for an unbelievably reasonable 5 RMB

  • Complete strangers requesting pictures with me – I mean, I’m kind of a big deal at home, but it’s not the same

  • The metro – You can go anywhere you want in Shanghai at rapid speed for 4 RMB

  • The interesting walks – because there’s always something exciting waiting just around the corner!!!

  • Random DVD vendors – from suspense to drama to a host of television series, if you want it, they’ve got it!

  • Haibo – Ah, the famed mascot of the World Expo. This blue guy is everywhere, and he’s dressed up in all kinds of random costumes!

  • Mango smoothies for 5 RMB

  • The vibrant colored lights that are always popping at night – I feel like a little kid being taunted by a shiny object!

  • Some of the best freshly popped kettle corn I have ever put in my mouth!

  • Fireworks – Why? Because they are always being set off by older men in their pajamas for absolutely no reason other than good times!

  • The fruit stands – AMAZING!!!

  • The fresh vegetables that are used in everything that you eat

  • Body scrubs and massages - Enough said!

  • Mani/pedi’s – I have never had someone pay such close attention to my cuticles! LOVE IT!!!

  • Remote-controlled air conditioners – We should definitely look into manufacturing these in the U.S.!!!

Trenia’s Finale:
This one’s going to be short and sweet because it’s almost time for me to get ready to head to the airport. I just want to say that I have learned so much this summer about everything from business to marriage to my personal strengths and weaknesses, but there is one thing that sticks out the most. I have learned that while it is very true that every action causes a reaction, we have the power to control our actions and/or reactions. For most of us, we typically have great control over our actions because we want to do what’s right and treat people fairly. However, I think it’s safe to say that all of us are guilty of reacting negatively when we are prompted by the negative actions of others. Now usually we feel justified in our reactions because we tell ourselves that “they started it!” Well, here’s my lesson for the summer: I must always take responsibility for my reactions, no matter the situation or circumstance. It might seem simple enough, but it’s one of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn in a very long time.

Welcome to my world…expo-sure!!!

Oh China!!!

As I begin my countdown for my return home, I can’t help but reflect over the summer. I have really enjoyed my time in China, and I don’t think I could have chosen a better location for my IPSP. With that being said, I thought it appropriate to devote my next few posts to sharing what I’ve learned about myself, what I will miss about China, and what I won’t miss. This post is the first of the series, and the list that follows is a snapshot of things that I found to be less than desirable during my time here. Enjoy!

I won’t miss…

  • The random smells that could hit you at anytime – I mean, our skunks and paper mills have nothing on these smells…NOTHING!!!
  • The massive number of people – When they say there are 20 million people in Shanghai, they mean it!!!
  • The sluggish walkers on the streets, sidewalks and everywhere else that have decided that you have nothing to do – move it people, MOVE IT!!!
  • The public toilets – Again, our smells cannot compare
  • The concrete jungle – I need some trees and grass!!!
  • The Great Firewall of China and the attitudinal internet – I must give kudos to Google for its translation services…AMAZING!!!
  • Long lines – They’re everywhere! I wouldn’t have such an issue with these lines if it wasn’t for the inevitable: the random people that will come up and jump in front of everyone else in line. I’ve had at least two stern conversations with “line jumpers”. It wasn’t pretty!
  • Smoking – I am not joking...people smoke all the time, everywhere! This includes the gym, hospital, office buildings, bathrooms, etc. It’s a bit over the top.
  • “Crack pants” – This phenomenon is a little unsettling for me. Placing a large slit in the pants of infants/toddlers to provide easy access for bathroom purposes just doesn’t seem right. Then again, I don’t have kids so maybe my views are skewed. But I won’t miss it, and I have that right!
  • The non-chivalrous attitude that exists here – Surprisingly, you are more likely to be pushed by an old lady or middle-aged man than you are a twenty-something!
  • China Mobile’s failure to utilize call waiting – Sweet, sweet call waiting-how I’ve missed you!!!
  • The thick milk-like substance they call yogurt – Yogurt was made to be eaten with a spoon, not slurped out of a straw…enough said!

Trenia’s Finale:
If you’ve been paying attention to my blog, I was given a book by my classmate David Monteith, and I promised that we would revisit the book for a little laughter. As I pride myself in being a woman of my word, it’s that time again. Today’s chapter: How to Avoid Being Struck By Lightning. Now I don’t know about the rest of you, but I started giggling when I read the title of the chapter. I thought it was a joke at first, but nope, they actually try to tell you how to avoid lightning. Now while I believe they do a wonderful job of providing common sense tips on objects that one should steer clear of in a lightning storm such as bodies of water, flag poles, metal fences, etc., I have just one thought that I would like to share that I believe should have been the opening to this chapter. Lean in close to the screen, because this may very well be one of the greatest thoughts I’ve ever uttered:


That is all I have to say about that. I know it might seem a bit gloomy, but the good news is that it gives all of us one less thing to worry about. No need to thank me.

Stay tuned for the next episode…

Welcome to my world…expo-sure!!!

Thanks Todd!!!

This post is dedicated to Todd Moore (Class 4). I think I’ve mentioned him before in my blog, but maybe not with as much gratitude as I will here. This weekend we went on a rafting trip to Hongzhou. This trip was made possible by the connections that Todd made when he was in Shanghai last summer. Now those of you who are familiar with my blog are probably saying, “she’s already been to Hongzhou so what’s the big deal?” While the last trip to Hongzhou was pretty amazing, this one topped the charts for several reasons. First, it was free! That’s right, two nights in a hotel, six meals, a rafting excursion, a hiking adventure, and transportation was provided at no charge to us. Next, we were able to see the countryside of Hongzhou, complete with beautiful mountains, lakes, hiking trails and wide open spaces. It was truly incredible, and we owe it all to Todd!

Now for the third benefit of this trip. After loading the bus and making our way out of the city we did introductions, stating our names and where we were from. We quickly learned that there were people from all over the world on the bus. To be more specific, Columbia, India, Peru, Latvia, Kenya, China, U.S., Brazil, Ecuador were all represented (and I left off a few). What a mix! We were then told to pick teams because we would be participating in a “Drifting Competition.” Little did we know that not only would we be rivaling our bus (the red group) but we would also be competing againt two other groups (the yellow and blue groups) in bamboo and rubber raft races. Becca and I joined three Latvians and a Kenyan to form “The Dominators.” I am pleased to report that we held up to our name and dominated the entire competition, taking the number 1 spot over all groups! We were given some pretty awesome all-weather jackets to mark our victory.

Trenia’s Finale
I’ve mentioned before that Shanghai is a “concrete jungle”, and one must take on a bit of a concrete exterior in order to survive various aspects of this fast-paced city. I do love living in the city because there is always something going on, but this trip to Hongzhou made me realize how much I missed nature. As a southerner, I’ve taken trees and fresh air for granted because they’ve always been a part of my life. After this summer, I don’t think that will ever happen again!

Despite the mosquito attacks, I really appreciated being in the great outdoors. For two days, my life stood still and I was able to enjoy God’s creation. No to do lists or computers, just birds chirping, butterflies fluttering, water flowing, and trees swaying to the command of the wind. Connecting with nature is such a relaxing experience and tends to create an inner peace that can be difficult to find in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. My point is that we should all take the time to appreciate nature. Go for a walk, do some fishing, take a weekend hike, golf, or even sign up for a rafting adventure. Whatever you do, your body, mind, and soul will thank you.

Thanks again Todd!!!

Welcome to my world…expo-sure!!!

Did You Know...

I know I’m a bit behind with my posts, but please just bear with me. I hope all of you had a wonderful 4th of July. I have to admit that this year’s celebrations, although entertaining, just weren’t the same as being at home. I digress. This post is going to be pretty random, as I’m going to use it to throw out random facts that I’ve learned since arriving in China. Here goes!

Did you know…

  • That there are over forty car manufacturers in China?
  • That cars cost twice as much in China as they do in the U.S.? (Those car manufacturers are sticking together!)
  • That the majority of Chinese households are made up of at least three generations?
  • That it is usually the husband that moves in with his in-laws?
  • That there is a one-child-per-family rule in China?
  • That if a family is “caught” with more than one child they will be fined?
  • That Shanghai has a different rule? It goes something like this: if you and your spouse were only children, you can have two children. If either of you had siblings, you can only have one child.
  • That toddlers here wear what are called “crack pants”? These are regular pants that have been split open at the crotch. Why? So the little ones can use the restroom anytime, anyplace.
  • That this year’s World Expo site here in Shanghai is home to the highest number of eco-friendly structures in one place ever?
  • That just about all of these structures will be destroyed in October? So, so sad.
  • That you have to pay to go to high school in China?
  • That generally you can only rent (not own) property in China?
  • That you can get up to a 99 year lease on your home?

Trenia’s Finale:
Since I’ve been in China, I’ve grown accustomed to stares and requests for photos. It really doesn’t bother me. Overall, people have been fairly nice to me (save the older lady who tried to push me through the exit gate at the metro station). But the other day I experienced something that I’m pretty sure might be one of the most amazing acts of kindness I’ve ever experienced. Let me explain.

The metro is a pretty popular mode of transportation here in Shanghai, and there seems to be a general consensus that you enter the stations at your own risk. You have to fend for yourself when entering or exiting the train, finding a seat, and protecting your belongings. I have seen it all from little old ladies push and be pushed to middle aged men struggling to get through the doors of the train. I’ll put it this way: remember how intense the game musical chairs was when there was just one chair left? That’s what it’s like on the train. If someone gets up out of a seat on the train, people literally move like the wind to secure their seat and only the strong survive. Needless to say, it can be a very unpleasant experience.

So back to me (that’s what it’s all about anyway, right?). I entered the train and because there were no seats, I found some standing room and braced myself for what seemed like a normal ride on the train. Then it happened. The train stopped, a few people got off and a seat near where I was standing opened. There was a middle-aged Chinese man sitting next to the open seat and he literally shooed (and by shooed I mean took his hand and swatted at them) two other people away from the open seat and motioned for me to come sit next to him. I paused for a second to soak it all in and then sat next to the man who was wearing a genuinely warm smile that had spilled over into his eyes. After thanking him as I sat down, I couldn’t help but reflect on the kindness of this one man, one day on the train. Wow! Who knew that this small gesture would mean so much to me? Living in this “concrete jungle” for almost three months can cause you to lose some of your warmth in an attempt to survive (get it? jungle, survival of the fittest). This gentleman left me with the desire to “pay-it-forward” with at least one small act of kindness and reminded me that I have the power to create a wave of positive interactions that can ultimately lead to positive change. I challenge each of you to do the same.

Welcome to my world…expo-sure!!!

Noodles Anyone?

Let me begin by saying that I love noodles. They have always had a special place in my heart-along with potatoes (I'm a true Southerner, and proud of it!). I felt this way before coming to China. I mean, I’ve had Ramen for dinner and it’s not because I’m too poor for anything else. It’s because I like to drain the water off of the cooked noodles and add my own seasoning and enjoy. Don’t judge me! Anyway, it was fitting for me that China has a wealth of noodles. Long, short, thick, thin, flat or round, you want’em…you got’em. And what’s even better is that they’re always close by and cheap!!!

I cannot tell you how many times I have uttered "mein" (noodle in Chinese) to a waiter or waitress or the guy that Becca and I have lovingly named “Noodle Guy” that’s just around the corner from our apartment. Why is this important? Because I have stopped saying “mein.” (Insert sad face here). I have grown weary of noodles, and so I made a decision: I am officially off noodles for a while. The noodles and I have come to the end of our road for now. I know some of you may be asking, “what is she going to eat now?” Don’t fret! I’m on rice full-time now, hence the great picture!!!

Trenia’s Finale:
Love. That is his first name. My cousin, who we all call by his middle name Terrell, is an officer in the Navy. He is currently stationed in Japan, at the Yokosuka Naval Base. He’s an amazing person, and I thought I would share something he said to me the other day when I was chatting with him. Let me explain that I don’t always get to talk to him because he has a wife and kids, he’s busy protecting our country, and I’m in school (big deal Trenia-I know). So after missing him for the last year (they just moved to Japan), he caught me on Yahoo! and we resumed conversation as usual. In the midst of our chat, he said something that has stuck with me, “You are perfect with your imperfections.” Back off ladies, he’s married!

Although I would love to say that this is true because I’m so great, that’s not the case. It’s true because it just is. So if you find yourself secretly hating your nose because it’s a little crooked or hating the fact that you’re not over six feet tall or wishing that you had Martha Stewart’s homemaking abilities, just let it go and remember: your “imperfections” make you perfect.

Welcome to my world…expo-sure!!!

It's Really Not That Bad...

I was walking down the street and this guy passed me. I couldn't help but take a picture because on top of the heavy load he is carrying, it's sticky humid here in Shanghai.

I have only one thing to say: The next time you're complaining about your job or think you're having a bad day, remember this guy. Enough said!

Trenia's Finale:
This finale is pretty random and clearly for our amusement, but just go with it. I want everyone (including Dean Rutherford) who reads this to comment and respond to this question: If you could have any power (as in superhero kind of power), what would it be and why? If you cannot comment on the blog, please send me an email and I will post your comment for you. Now on your mark, get set, GO!!!

Welcome to my world...expo-sure!!!

So You Think You Can Dance?

Picture it: I'm walking down the street, feeling a little blue because my day didn't end on as positive of a note as I would have liked. What do I stumble upon? A group of ladies from the neighborhood participating in a line dance. And I don't mean a half-hearted, random line dance...I mean a full-on, synchronized routine encouraged by a CD player blasting a jam that would be the equivalent of our Electric or Cha-Cha Slide. As I approached the women I was on the phone with Becca describing the scene and I put her on hold so that I could locate my camera. In the meantime, the ladies (who at this point can see the enormous grin on my face) are smiling and waving at me which made the scene even more of a treat. I took my camera out and snapped a few pictures and then stood and watched for a moment. It was then that I realized that the women were older and from their hand motions and level of focus it became clear that they were exercising! How amazing is that?

Fast forward to our weekend trip to Hangzhou. We've had a great day complete with boat rides, a visit to an island, a museum tour, and lunch with some river snails (ask me about it later). Our day ends with a leisurely stroll (leisurely because we were enjoying iced mocha's) and what do see as we are trying to figure out who is in control of a kite that could easily be mistaken for a UFO (I mean this thing had lights that not only changed colors but also faded in and out like a slide on a PowerPoint presentation...yes I said it, and don't act like you don't think that's cool)? Another dance line! Only this time, there were at least 45 women, and they had their own mound that was devoted to their routine. Now ask yourself, what would Trenia do in this situation? If you said join in and try to learn the routine, pat yourself on the back until I can get there! Becca joined me, and we had such a good time trying to learn the steps to what I have named the Chinese Stomp!

Trenia's Finale:
I leave you with excerpts from a song by Lee Ann Womack that captures exactly what I want to say:

"I Hope You Dance"

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat
But always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted

I hope you still feel small
When you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances
But they're worth taking

When you get close to selling out

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance

No matter what your "dance" may be, I do hope you take the time to dance.

Welcome to my world...expo-sure!!!

Did You Miss Me?

I know it’s been a while since you've heard from me and for that, I apologize. I plan on making it up to you! I thought I would try something new with this post…you know, make it worth the wait! I decided it might be interesting to keep a running list of random things that I see or myths that are dispelled or things that I learn over the summer, and since I’m keeping a blog, I felt it appropriate to publish my lists here at various times. After almost three weeks in Shanghai, I think I can begin my list. Here goes!

SURPRISE, I’m not a giant!!!
I am five feet, eight inches tall with a thirty-four inch inseam…to be clear, I’m pretty tall. I thought I would be a giant in China, but I was wrong! Don’t get me wrong, a few people have made hand gestures concerning my height but I’m not nearly as tall as I thought I would be. In Shanghai, people vary in height, and a number of Shanghai natives are my height or taller. In one conversation about our height a girl explained that it’s all about nutrition. She said the people of Shanghai eat really well (I can testify) and as a result, they grow! Other parts of the country may not be so fortunate which provides some explanation of why a majority of the Asian population is shorter than average.

What Did You Just Say?
I know this may come as a surprise to some of you, but I like to talk. As a matter of fact, I have grown to love talking so much that I have failed to appreciate the value of non-verbal communication because I have not had to depend on it very much in my lifetime. That has all changed. Being here in China has certainly sharpened my non-verbal skills. Although I wish I could speak the language so that I could converse with everyone, I am really amazed at what can be communicated without any words at all.

Cultural Differences Do Matter
Have you ever been enjoying a nice lunch or dinner with friends or family and had to talk over someone who is slurping their soup or pasta at the next table? Have you ever walked down the street and come really close to someone spitting on you? Since I have been in China, I have and initially I thought people were being inconsiderate but then I noticed that everywhere I went the same things were happening. Then it hit me: these were cultural differences! In the spring I took a couple of classes at both the Clinton School and the law school that focused on cultural differences. At the law school, a class titled the Law and Cultural Competency was all about the existence and effect of cultural differences on our actions and reactions to others and of course, how this plays out in the legal system. Dynamics of Social Change at the Clinton School was all about ways in which cultural differences play a role in our abilities to incite positive social change. I appreciated these classes because they opened my eyes to the fact that cultural differences play a major role in our everyday interactions…whether we realize it or not.

Guess Who?
Before coming to China I often joked about who I would be mistaken for during my time here. Thus far, I am pleased to report the following “sightings”:

  • While in Hangzhou, I started a non-verbal dialogue with a daughter, mother and grandmother. The grandmother was a sweet little lady who made it clear that she thought I was a basketball player by making hand gestures of a ball being thrown into a hoop.

  • Two older gentlemen seemed to think I was someone famous (I decided an actress or model) as they spent the majority of a boat ride posing in pictures with me and slyly capturing me on video.
  • And of course, just days ago while out at one of the larger markets here in Shanghai, two Australians called me Michelle Obama. After that, Mircha thought it would be amusing to tell various shop owners that I was the first lady or her relative.

Some Like It Hot
Who doesn’t enjoy a cool refreshing beverage with lunch or dinner? Well, one thing I’ve learned to enjoy during my stay in China is a hot comforting beverage with my meals. This usually entails some amazing tea but could also be a cup of hot water. You see, here it is widely understood that cold drinks are not good for the stomach, so you should drink something warm to aid in the digestive process. I’m going to be honest: I’ve tried it, and I like it. I may never go back to cold drinks again (save a vanilla bean or mocha frappuccino and the occasional icee). The next time you sit down for a good meal, do me a favor and trade that ice cold beverage for a cup of hot tea or water. Trust me your body will thank both of us!

All right, I think that just about does it for me this time around but stay tuned, the lessons keep coming and another list is bound to be right around the corner.

Trenia’s Finale:
One of my classmates, David Monteith, gave every person in the class a book (or two) for his birthday (he’s just that kind of guy). Monteith decided to give us books from his personal library that reminded him of us for any reason (our personality, the country we would be in over the summer, etc.). I received two books, one of which is The WORST-CASE SCENARIO: Survival Handbook. Now for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of reading this book, just know that it is hilarious; maybe not on the surface, but adding a little dialogue to it makes it a real riot.

The very first chapter of the book is all about great escapes and right out of the gate the authors tell you how to escape from quicksand. In just a couple of pages the madness that is quicksand is explained with pictures. I completely appreciate the fact that anyone could fall prey to quicksand because let’s be honest, anything could happen. My issue with the book’s escape plan is that you have to have a huge stick with you and you will need to use this stick to position your body so that you can float on top of the quicksand. First of all, if I am simple enough to get trapped in quicksand, am I really going to have a big stick with me? For the heck of it, let’s just say that I do have this stick with me. Am I going to be strong enough to pull myself out of the quicksand and into a floating position? Is it realistic for the authors to expect that from me?

Anyway, I’ll leave that alone and make this point: metaphorically speaking, we have all experienced some quicksand in our lives. How do we handle it? My advice on how to escape the quicksand of life is to stay calm and rely on our “big stick” (spiritual beliefs, family, friends, etc.) to help us float our way out instead of becoming overwhelmed and eventually sinking. Marinate on that!

Welcome to my world…expo-sure!!!

Cupping 101

Last Monday started off as a regular day (if that’s possible in Shanghai): I woke up, showered, got dressed and headed to work with plans to meet Becca for a possible massage. Some of the ladies that Becca works with had decided that they wanted to get massages, and of course we said we would join. After debriefing from Saturday’s meeting at work, I headed out to meet Becca. Becca and I walked to a predetermined location and met up with Eva and Chelsea (from Becca’s art gallery). That is when the day turned into a real treat.

This massage that we were headed to was not just any massage. I mean, why would it be, we’re in Shanghai! We were about to partake in a Chinese body massage followed by a cupping massage. For your understanding, I will tell you a little bit about both. A Chinese body massage is like a regular body massage on steroids. This small Chinese woman came in and started rubbing my back, just like a massage therapist normally would, and then she pulled out her arsenal, which included thumbs, elbows, and other portions of her hands. I am not kidding you when I tell you that she hit every single pressure point that I have (and some I think she might have borrowed from someone else just for fun) and just when I was starting to appreciate her hands, she pulled out yet another surprise. She told me to turn over on my back and after positioning my legs to her liking, she grabbed my arms, rocked my entire body twice, and then all I heard was a series of cracks. This wonderful woman went from my sides to my neck and realigned my entire body! I was dumbfounded!

The Chinese body massage went on for an hour and then it was time for the cupping. Cupping is an ancient Chinese practice that is often used for medicinal purposes. It is said to have a host of benefits, including: improved microcirculation of blood and lymph; increased activity of metabolic processes; and overall improvement of patient's health. Who wouldn’t want to receive these benefits? As you can see from the pictures, a flame is used to warm a cup (or what looks like a small jar to me) that is applied to the skin and the pressure in the cup is reduced (by using change in heat or by suctioning out air), so that the skin and superficial muscle layer is drawn into and held in the cup. I have never done anything like that before in my life, but I definitely want to do it again. I feel great!!!

After our massages, we had lunch and then visited Chelsea at a studio that she and a team were painting for an upcoming art show. Eva met us there and we darted off for another walk to a Danish art show. Unfortunately, the show had been rescheduled. We made the best of it and walked back to Chelsea’s place and in route, passed a Louis Vuitton store that looked to be about 5-6 stories high and was built to resemble a piece of luggage…who knew that was even possible? We ended the evening over buy one get one burgers and fries…not a bad day AT ALL!!!

Trenia’s Finale:
As I walk home from work, I’ve noticed some very consistent behavior. In the evenings, it seems customary for families, couples and even several generations to get out and walk together. While I can’t say where they may be going, I have seen young couples, mother-daughter-grandchild trios, moms and dads with their little ones and even father and/or mother-in-laws with married couples walking along engaging in conversation or random play every evening on my walk home. It saddens me that this is something that I am not used to seeing. My question is why don’t we do more of this? Are we missing out on the best things in life because we’re too busy to stop what we’re doing and take a walk with our loved ones? I know I have been guilty of this, and I am chastising myself for that. It was just a thought that I wanted to share with you…

Welcome to my world…expo-sure!!!

A Ride to Remember: Shanghai Metro

On Saturday morning I woke up at 5:00am so that I could begin what was sure to be a day filled with adventure. Why? This was the day that I would meet our client from Bayer (as in the German aspirin company) China. We had a 7:30am meeting and it was in the Pudong district. In order to get there, I would need to take two taxi cabs and the metro. I was excited but a bit nervous as this would be my first time riding the metro by myself, and I would be doing it in China! For those of you that may not know, I was born and raised in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and have lived in Alabama, Texas and Arkansas thus far in my life. Although I have visited other parts of the country, I have been fortunate to be accompanied by someone who is familiar with the subway system the few times that I have ridden it the U.S.

So, I headed out the door at exactly 6:00am and hailed a cab to the metro station. I hopped in and told the cab driver that I wanted to go to Jiangsu ditie (subway in Chinese), and he understood me! I was thrilled that one leg of my journey went so smoothly. When I arrived at the station I quickly purchased a ticket using an electronic touch screen machine that had an English option. I boarded my first train on Line 2 and at the seventh stop, I exited and switched over to Line 6. At the fifth stop, I headed out of the station and hailed a cab to the Ramada Inn Pudong Plaza. I was so happy as I was riding along because I had made it without any trouble at all. And then what do I hear? Clug, clug, clug, clug…and then the driver pulled over and surveyed the vehicle. I could have told him that the front left tire of the car was flat and almost coming off the rim (that is, if I could speak Chinese). Needless to say, I was dropped off just a short distance from the hotel and walked the rest of the way.

We had a fantastic meeting about the project, narrowing down such particulars as desired deliverables, general timelines, meeting dates, etc. Then our contact from Bayer China suggested that we have a meeting at his home in Bejing soon. I was excited for a number of reasons, one of which surrounded travelling to Bejing, while another stemmed from the opportunity to tour the project sites and gain a deeper understanding of Bayer China’s work, and yet another was based on the fact that our client offered to make us pasta for our meeting. Did I mention that this guy is Italian? SERIOUSLY?!? My taste buds are looking forward to this experience! Our meeting ended on a high note as we transitioned from business to random conversation and in true Trenia fashion, a bit of light humor.

After the meeting the InnoCSR folks and I headed over to the Being Globally Responsible Conference that is hosted annually by the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS). This conference was actually started by Sam Lee, the CEO of InnoCSR during his time as a CEIBS student. In the spirit of the World Expo theme (Better City, Better Life), this year’s conference was all about environmental responsibility. As I settled into what was actually a very comfortable chair in one of the auditoriums, I listened to a brief introduction from school officials and some students. The first session was quickly summarized and three panelists took the stage. Each panelist would give a brief presentation, and the first would deliver hers in Chinese. I was so disappointed because I thought this meant that I wouldn’t be able to understand the presentation. Not at CEIBS! Khushboo (a fiery little lady from India that works at InnoCSR), turned to me and said, “Go out and show them your business card and get a translator.” I was thinking, “Wow…they have individual translators? But wait, if someone’s standing in front of me translating, won’t that interrupt the session?” I would soon learn that the translator she was speaking of was a small contraption that looked like a tape recorder only sleeker. You put the headphones in and turn to Channel 2 and…voila! I could hear the presentation in English. I was impressed to say the least because I had never experienced anything like this before. I listened intently as several speakers addressed various environmental issues from climate control to the advantages of solar energy. There was even a discussion about Copenhagen and what should be done in order to spark some action to reduce the damage that has already been done to the environment where the climate is concerned.

Trenia’s Finale:
One of the panelists from the presentation was a woman by the name of Peggy Liu. As I read her bio in the conference program, I was truly in awe. A graduate of MIT with a work history that would stop anyone dead in their tracks, Ms. Liu was named a Time Magazine Environmental Hero in 2008 and a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader in 2009, was an advisor to the 2008 Clinton Global Initiative on Energy & Climate Change, and currently serves as Chair to the Joint US-China Collaboration on Clean Energy (JUCCCE). After the presentation, I went up and introduced myself to her (who wouldn’t?) and told her what I was doing in Shanghai. She leaned in as we shook hands, looked deep into my eyes and said, “You made the right decision coming here. It will change your life. This is where it’s at.” Her words sent chills down my spine and left me speechless (which for those of you who know me know that this doesn’t happen very often). When I could speak again, I thanked her and walked away. Her words keep echoing in my mind and now I have to find Peggy Liu in order to gain some insight into the meaning behind her words. Stay tuned…

Welcome to my world…expo-sure!!!

Tokyo Drift: Shanghai Style

If you’ve ever seen the movie "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift," then you know that this movie is all about beautiful cars with maximum speed. Well, in Shanghai, it’s not about how pretty the vehicle is, but it’s definitely about who can move the fastest. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are some beautiful cars all over the place (I’ve seen plenty of Porsche, BMW, Mercedes, Volvo, etc. cars/SUVs), but beauty is not required to get into this game. From motorized bicycles to motorcycles to cars, one should drive in Shanghai at their own risk. It’s really amazing! All you hear when you’re near a roadway is horns honking because these folks have places to go and people to see! And even if they don’t, they want you out of their way.

Take for instance this past Thursday. I was walking to work, minding my own business, enjoying the scenery, and then all of a sudden…WHAM!!! This guy gets hit by a bicycle (I know you thought I was going to say that I got hit by something, but that was just for effect). The bicycle is being steered by an older gentleman with a young lady sitting side saddle. I think I might have frozen for a moment, and then when I came back I just watched in awe (trying not to stare) because I wanted to see how the parties would handle the collision.

As a concurrent public service and law student, I have to tell you that there my mind was going like a thousand miles a minute as I witnessed what to me was kind of a big deal. I felt a little like I had multiple personalities for a minute, but I got over it. The public servant in me wanted to assess the needs of both parties (Dr. Bavon taught me that), assist both parties in realizing that this was a bifurcation point that would have an afterlife (props to Dr. Standerfer and Dean Hemphill), and then encourage the men to open their minds to the true possibilities that could come from this incident (I was listening, Dr. Singhal). And then there was the lawyer in me. She immediately started thinking about damages that could be proven for the plaintiff, jurisdictional issues, possible defenses, billable hours, etc. To my surprise, these views would be reconciled in a matter of seconds as the driver and victim really didn’t even acknowledge each other; they just moved on about their business as if nothing had happened. It was amazing to me that what would have been seen as a problem that needed special attention or a lawsuit was shrugged off like water off of a duck’s back.

Trenia’s Finale:
A man by the name of James Allen once stated, "Circumstances do not make the man, they reveal him." After reading this quote, my mind immediately turned to the bicycle accident that I mentioned earlier. I firmly believe the truth of this statement can be seen in the reaction of the “victim” of the accident. While he could have reacted with anger or made a huge deal out of the incident, he didn’t. He simply walked away. For me his actions showed him to be a peaceful individual who really doesn’t sweat the small stuff. Although some would argue that he was crazy or even a push over, in the grand scheme of things, he was fine and chose to focus his energies on reaching his destination. He wasted no time on a situation that wasn’t worth his time. I ask you (and me) what do our reactions to the circumstances of life reveal about us?

Welcome to my world…expo-sure!!!

Why World Expo-sure?

Now I’m sure you’re wondering why in the world I named my blog World Expo-sure, so I’ll tell you why. Shanghai is hosting the 2010 World Expo (A.K.A. World’s Fair), which is a massive collection of galleries of human inspiration from around the world. As Shanghai’s World Expo has been named the largest site ever, I thought it fitting to pay tribute to the accomplishment in my blog name. Since my arrival, I have seen this cute little blue guy everywhere that reminds me of Gumby and eventually someone explained that this character was the mascot of this year’s Expo. After doing a little research, I found out that his name is Haibao, which means “treasure of the world.” How neat is that?

I decided that although the cab ride to work is pretty cheap, I was missing out on the experience of walking and taking in the scenery. So yesterday I walked home from work and had the best time! I found a small park that was beautifully decorated with flowers, saw a dance routine by a group of girls at school, viewed what seemed to be a friendly game of checkers being watched by a group of men, and of course, enjoyed the intense stares of a host of Shanghai natives. I also browsed a store that was filled with bags, belts and scarves (don’t worry, I used self control), and purchased a 20 oz. Sprite for forty-seven cents. All in all, it was a fabulous walk home!

Trenia’s Finale:
As I was walking home, it dawned on me that I was in Shanghai, China (this ah-ha occurs all the time by the way), and I thought about the fact that if you had told me two years ago that I would be spending my summer in China I would have thought you were crazy. But here I am, and I know that it is because I am becoming increasingly comfortable with the “possibilities.” The moral? Keep an open mind and never limit yourself to your current situation and amazing things will start to happen. I have, and I’m in China…that’s all I’m saying.

Welcome to my world…expo-sure!!!

My First Day at InnoCSR

Hi there! I realized that I have neglected to tell you about the purpose of my trip to Shanghai, so I think now would be good time to do that. As a part of the Clinton School curriculum, each student is required to undertake an International Public Service Project (IPSP). If you take a look at my Class 5 Classmates blogs, you will see that we are all over the world this summer. I decided that I wanted to come to China and after talking with one of my classmates from Class 4, Todd Moore, I narrowed it down to Shanghai. I was comfortable with my project being just about anything because I knew that no matter what, it would be a learning opportunity that I would never forget and I would be helping people. After contacting Sam Lee at InnoCSR, I confirmed that my project would be all about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). InnoCSR is a strategic consulting agency that specializes in Sustainability and CSR. I have provided a link to InnoCSR’s website if you would like to learn more about the organization.

For my project, I will be working with Bayer China to create CSR factsheets that will summarize Bayer China’s amazing CSR initiatives. Bayer China is currently involved in projects that range from microfinancing to restoring and maintaining a lake in Bejing that has become a wetland ecosystem to providing medicines to organizations that are working to save moon bears. These factsheet summations must be done in a very concise manner so as to inform stakeholders, shareholders and current/future partners about the goals and objectives, financial and human investments and measured outcomes of these initiatives.

My first day at work was pretty amazing. I sat in on a couple of interviews for a driver for the CEO and although I have no idea what they were saying (because let’s be clear, right now I speak a few words of Chinese and that’s about it), I was asked what I thought about the interviewees and my pick was hired! I realize that the two may have absolutely no connection, but I can dream, can’t I? After doing some research on project management systems and working on a couple of chapters of a book on CSR, my first day ended with a planning meeting for an event for an organization called NetImpact (www.netimpact.org). At this meeting I met an American woman (Kris) who is utilizing her JD to conduct various trainings related to the Human Resources functions of her company, an Italian man (Alessander) who’s company is focused on LEED certifications for the buildings and new construction efforts in China, and a young Chinese male (Bo) who works for a company that is devoted to transforming the energy industry to be cleaner and more efficient. What a day!!!

Trenia’s Finale:
What if your bodily waste was used to power your home? I know it’s kind of disgusting, but bear with me. During the NetImpact meeting there was an intense discussion (no pun intended) about the energy industry and the work that Bo’s company was doing. Bo mentioned this concept of turning the gas that is emitted from the waste of animals and humans into energy that can be used as electricity. All I could think about was the environmental benefits that would come from the world turning crap into energy! I was stumped for the rest of the evening.

Welcome to my world…expo-sure!

I made it to Shanghai!!!

Hello again! I am reaching out to you from Shanghai, China, just a few days after my arrival to this massive city. It is difficult to get to my blog on a regular basis because of the firewall here in China, but I will do my best. I want to update you on my experiences thus far. Let's go back in time...

My journey to Shanghai began on Tuesday, May 18th at around 5:00pm when my flight left Little Rock headed to Houston. After quickly changing planes, I headed to New Jersey and met a really nice woman named Carolyn on the plane. We talked the entire flight from Houston to New Jersey and managed to discuss life, relationships, a career in pharmaceutical sales, at least three books that I need to read, and of course, why I was going to Shanghai. I made it through an eleven hour layover in New Jersey before embarking on a fourteen hour flight to Shanghai. Because this is the longest flight I’ve ever taken, I was prepared to entertain myself for fourteen hours with music, books, magazines, and my Nintendo DSi. Wouldn’t you know that I didn’t listen to any music, I read nothing, and my Nintendo DSi is feeling quite unloved right about now. Continental fed us like five times and kept the plane dark, so I took that as an opportunity to eat and get some much-needed sleep. I did manage to catch two movies when I wasn't sleeping. I have to give a nod to Mircha for serving as my travel companion…it was comforting to have someone familiar with me as I ventured into the unknown.

We landed in Shanghai and exited the plane to an absolutely immaculate airport. After going through airport security, we were greeted by the assistant of one of Dr. Singhal’s (one of my professors) friends (thanks Min and Caroline) and then whisked away into what I have been told is the largest city in the world. We met up with Becca (another class 5er) and went to grab a bite to eat at a local spot where the ladies were eating ice cream and waving at us. Good times...good times!

Trenia's Finale:
I managed to get in a couple of movies on the plane (that is whenever I wasn't sleeping or stuffing my face of course), one of which was Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. Yes, I like to watch animated kids’ movies and I’m comfortable admitting it! Anyway, throughout the movie there is this reoccurring mention of family because one of the main characters was expecting a baby. One of the other characters is struggling with feeling that being a part of a family is not for him while another character wants nothing more than to have a family, so he tries to mother some baby dinosaurs (this is ironic because the character is a sloth). At the end of the movie, these two characters reconcile their very different struggles by realizing that 1.) Family is something that everyone needs to be a part of and 2.) What you are seeking in a familial structure may not be what you expected but it might just be right in front of you.

This got me to thinking, so I thought I would share my thoughts with you. This movie (and today’s finale) serve as an opportunity to remind all of us to embrace our families (which could be the one that you were given at birth or the one that you have adopted along the way) by realizing and appreciating the vital role they play in who we are as individuals and be careful not to take them for granted.

Welcome to my world…expo-sure!!!

My Very First Post

Greetings from Little Rock! I am in the midst of figuring out all the kinks of blogging, so bear with me! I thought it might be a good idea to try posting a few days before I leave for practice sake, so here goes...

Today was a busy day. It started fairly early with me studying for my Family Law final and then running a few errands. My final was from 6:00pm-9:00pm, and now I'm at home regrouping so I can get my mind right to finish my paper for the Law and Cultural Competence that's due on Friday. That will close out my second year of law school!

I have a busy weekend ahead of me with moving out of my apartment and packing for China. So stay tuned, the next few days will be filled with adventure!

I'm going to do my best to leave you with something special each time I post. It could be anything from a funny story to a scripture verse that was inspirational to me to my opinion about any random event or subject area. We'll call it "Trenia's Finale" and it's making it's debut below!

Trenia's Finale: "In order to get from what was to what will be, you must go through what is." ~Anonymous

This quote is representative of the days leading up to my summer abroad and even more importantly, my experiences with becoming a student again. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I dislike it with a passion (hate is such an ugly word), but it is all so very necessary.

Until next time,

Welcome to my world...expo-sure!!!