Wednesday, May 13, 2009

An Advetnure of a Lifetime

When I was 10 years old, I made the honor roll. I had done so before but this time my aggregate grade was better than ever. The reward my parents presented to me was a ViewFinder with photo discs of 50 US states, Europe and Asia. Of all the gifts I've ever received from my parents, this is the one I remember best. (I also had the first Barbie but she was unimpressive to me. Too hard-looking for my tender taste). The travel bug bit me way back then. Slides of several angles of The Great Wall in China captivated me, as did scenes of misty fishing villages, saipans afloat at sunset and marketplaces filled with exotic-looking fruits, vegetables and curious-looking specimens I could not comprehend, not to mention slides of people at work and children at play.

This weekend, I leave for China with 16 other MBA and AMBA team members from East Tennessee State University's College of Business & Technology (

I am blessed to have the encouragement and support of so many special people at home who will travel to China vicariously with me on this journey. One good friend has ensured I have the necessary technology to record this adventure. Other friends have shared excellent packing tips, and colleagues have shared their own travel experiences to Hangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing. The professor leading this journey has arranged ample leisure time for us to explore our surroundings and to engage with people as learn about issues of importance or interest to them. As a veteran journalist, a storyteller, I believe this experience holds the promise of intriguing tales to tell later.

As a member of the AMBA project team, I look forward to learning more about my partners in crime and working with them on a project that will result in two radio programs, newspaper articles, and presentations to community service organizations, such as Rotary and Kiwanis. Thus, this experience will not only be eye-opening for us but also for our communities.

I appreciate East Tennessee State University's College of Business & Technology for availing this opportunity to me and to my colleagues. In a couple of days, we take off for the adventure of a lifetime - an experience beyond the tiny, thin film I saw in my ViewFinder all too many years ago.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Preparing for Departure

The departure for China is only days away! So many things to plan, pack, and prepare for that I am a bit overwhelmed at the moment. I spent the morning reading over emails on the trip and preparing lists of things to do, things to buy, and things to not forget.

For instance, in addition to regular toiletries you travel with, I need to buy small rolls of toilet paper. Apparently this is not furnished in public restrooms in China, so you must carry your own. I also must pick up enough Pepto Bismol to take daily, as my doctor says this will slow and possibly prevent bacteria growth should I come in contact with bad food.

I also need to pick up some fresh bug repellent, as they are in humid season, and don't want to chance malaria, even if we are not actually going to be anywhere too rural. I also have a variety of emergency prescriptions filled that my doctor gave me because it is much easier to fill them here and carry them than to try and get them once in China.

I am excited about the experience, but it is going to be tough to go the two weeks without the kids. This is what initially gave me the idea for this blog. It's a way for them to have contact with me.

I am going to update this at least once a day and add pictures and videos. So if you want to keep up with me over the two weeks in China, this would be the place to do it.