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!!!