China Diary:
Back to School

[Returning to Shanghai] [Spring Festival] [Chinese New Year] [Fulbright Mid-Year Conference] [Back to School] [Back Online] [Into the Heartland] [Ancient Capitals] [Judeo-Christian Holidays] [From Albany to Zurich] [Yellow Mountain] [Loose Ends] [Hello, Debbie ... Goodbye, Debbie] [Southern Capital] [Tropical Tour] [Unwinding] [Farewell Banquets] [Winding Down] [Good Bye, Shanghai]

Mar. 1: Laptop Returns – After a couple of months of PC withdrawal, my laptop finally makes a surprise comeback. Good news: The kind folks at UMAX upgraded it to Windows 98 (well, I did send my check in to them when I purchased it back last summer, but that’s another story). Bad news: The idiots at UMAX failed to send the CD or manual with the machine and didn’t finish the installation so every time it asks for the key numbers it automatically shuts down. Better news: I’m in China which has many Windows 98 CD’s available real cheap. (Well, I already paid the full price, right?) Worse news: After I install the operating system I find the idiots at UMAX cleaned my hard drive, ignoring my written plea to be extremely careful to preserve my precious and irreplaceable data. So, after I finish installing my other programs I send the good folks at UMAX an e-mail requesting my CD. I also pick up a printer at the Waiban office.

Mar. 2: Strategic Management – Having my handy laptop up and running, I bring it to my first meeting of this MBA class to show my nifty presentation. But I didn’t test the projection system which of course doesn’t work. But I manage to keep them entertained anyway. I hand out thirty-five of the sixty texts I sent from the U.S. as well as some handouts. Accurate enrollment figures remain elusive, however, and it doesn’t help that the roster is in Chinese. It’s also the last one I’ll receive so I must trust in the honesty of all students telling me they are enrolled. They keep coming the next day and I expect to run out of texts before our next session. Also, while many are fluent in English it is clear some are not. But they are enthusiastic and laugh at my jokes so there is hope. Most MBA’s in China work full-time while taking a full load, so it is extremely difficult for them to prepare. They are also reluctant to participate, being accustomed to the Confucius memorization method rather than the Socratic case method.

Mar. 3: Business Ethics – My Fulbright grant proposed (among other things) that I teach business ethics to the MBA’s, so of course last semester I was assigned to teach a seminar in international business to the MA’s. But after protracted negotiation and a lot of luck I’m teaching the required business ethics course in the Fudan-MIT International MBA program. Being very selective and capped at a cohort group of forty, all students are fluent in English and readily participate in class discussions. Not everyone shows up because they are scheduled for the second ten weeks. I quickly calculate that beginning in ten weeks and going for another ten weeks takes me into the hot summer months. So, I propose we not wait. They agree. I ask when we should begin. Someone volunteers "Immediately!" This class might have a sense of humor, but I counter with "How about next week?" They agree, but since we are there I ask them to define business ethics, which leads to some humorous responses. I then present what I believe to be China’s most serious ethical problems: corruption, discrimination, intellectual property rights, and pollution. Turns out they agree that while these raise issues of rights and justice, they also lead to economic inefficiency. Well, anyway, our discussion shows that there need not be a conflict between business ethics and business profits. This course will be a challenge, but I think it will also be fun and a great learning experience all around.

Mar. 5: Parting Party – Yoshi’s wife comes to town to help him pack since he will be returning to Japan next week. AJ will be leaving shortly after for a short stay in Bangkok and a longer stay outside Paris to intensively study French. So, Mark hosts their farewell party and just about everyone I’ve mentioned in my diary shows up as well as some local Chinese friends. It’s a great party with plenty of food (I make up a big batch of Sichuan chicken wings) and drinks (the hallway has a long row of empty beer bottles the next morning). David shows his photos of his six-week trip through Southeast Asia which was great. Before the party winds down we all crowd around the living room for a group dance.

Mar. 6: "Shanghai Sanctuary" – The American Education Committee of Shanghai sponsors a film of the Jews of Shanghai during World War II. So, I go to the Shanghai American Center and head up to the top floor for a stunning view of the environs including the neighborhoods the movie highlights. Shanghai had been occupied by the colonial powers since the mid-1800’s, who divided it into the French and international concessions (British, German, American, and others) as well as a Chinese ghetto (now Old Town Shanghai). As a result, it had been an open port and no one power really controlled the city. Hence, successive waves of immigrants came to Shanghai. Sephardic Jews first came to Kaifeng nearly one thousand years ago, but European Jews arrived during the Russian pogroms at the turn of the century. White Russians followed during the revolution in 1917. The German Jews began coming during the thirties, followed by Jews from Austria and Poland. Their population eventually reached around 20,000 and they made numerous lasting contributions to culture, science, and education leaving behind many institutions including hospitals and schools. Things got desperate when the Japanese invaded and a Nazi butcher came with his final solution (never implemented). Most began leaving after the war and especially when the Red Army came into town. The last remnants (except for those few who married Chinese or otherwise decided to stay) were gone by 1953. At the reception I meet David, the Australian Counsel General, and a couple of Australian businessmen in for the weekend. At dinner, I sit with John (the host) and his Chinese wife, Eva; Andreas (an historian from the German Consulate interested in the war years) and his wife; and Tim (the general manager of a joint venture) and his wife. It’s a pretty emotional film but shows a positive side of Shanghai in spite of being exploited by foreign powers for so long. Afterward, we have what ironically might well be the best dinner I’ve had in China.

[Returning to Shanghai] [Spring Festival] [Chinese New Year] [Fulbright Mid-Year Conference] [Back to School] [Back Online] [Into the Heartland] [Ancient Capitals] [Judeo-Christian Holidays] [From Albany to Zurich] [Yellow Mountain] [Loose Ends] [Hello, Debbie ... Goodbye, Debbie] [Southern Capital] [Tropical Tour] [Unwinding] [Farewell Banquets] [Winding Down] [Good Bye, Shanghai]


Copyright 1999 Paul Miesing. All rights reserved. Please do not use without permission unless in the People’s Republic of China which does not enforce intellectual property rights. Revised on January 17, 2001.