We are now back in Grand Forks. We arrived at about 11 in the evening and I got out of bed today at 2 in the afternoon. I am still a little bit foggy, but I wanted to complete my entries on the China trip before I go back to work tomorrow. So, with some lychee tea in my lazy tea cup (it has an inner holder for the tea that is removed once the tea has brewed), I will see what I can generate.
The China trip was an unplanned opportunity for me. I went as a guest of my wife who was attending a conference bringing together US and Chinese educators. While we saw some very interesting things and were not restricted in how we used free time, our impressions were limited by time, location, and the events that dominated our attention. I know it is also likely we do not understand the limitations on our impressions (e.g., the television channels we viewed in the hotel are not necessarily available to the general public through their means of access). If nothing else, I will continue to cross-references my new first hand experiences with the information sources I encounter on a daily basis. Already, I am more aware of information that references China (the Tom Friedman article in today’s local paper concerned environmental issues in China – my reference to Friedman’s China visit). My limited experiences do compliment my reading on advances in rapidly developing countries and how such advances might influence education and technology in the US (Friedman’s The World is Flat, Buderi and Huangs’ Guanxi (Windows and China) and China Inc).
- Existing infrastructure is not always a liability – visionaries appear to be able to learn from best practices and leap over the intermediate steps more advanced nations or organizations had to go through to get to a level of practice. Innovation can sometimes be achieved by observation.
- I assume others make the same assumptions I do and being in a very different place makes it obvious this is not the case. Here is an example. I was extremely impressed by commitment to learning that is evident in the students (Note – we likely saw the very high end schools). However, stepping back and viewing the total context, it is evident what the cost of not taking advantage of academic opportunity might be. College education brings so many advantages and these advantages are not just for the individual, but also for the family. Invest in your child because this child is also your own future. I wonder what the cost of failure really is?
- “Face” is so important. Doing the “right thing” reflects strongly on you, your family, your company, etc.
- I understand that the world has become flat and China is really a place to see this happen. The economic benefits of a cheap and highly motivated work force is obvious. There is no way to compete with such opportunities. However, I am guessing that the curve of development is also imfluenced by factors that limit the trajectory. Cheap labor is not unlimited – as people turn income into expectations cheap labor will become more expensive. Rapid development creates debts that must eventually be paid (e.g., reliance on dirty energy and the creation of health hazards). In the end, I am guessing that factors such as education and values will be what sustains improvement.
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