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Final day in Wuhan

by Larry Moneta

Seems like ages since I last wrote, but only two days. But these were quite busy and interesting days.

Our last full day in Wuhan was spent at the university. We started with meetings with student affairs directors for the undergraduates and graduate students (two separate people). Wuhan’s approach to student support is somewhat different than US models but overall, we share identical objectives – to help students realize their goals academically and personally. Housing and dining as well as other ‘business’ activities are handled by the University’s Logistics office so Student Affairs is focused on personal support, student governance and programing and various forms of advising (academic and career). Wuhan has experienced 4 suicides in the last year (they can’t say the word…just said “very serious mental health incidents”…but we determined that that meant suicide. With 40,000 students, their ratio of 1 to 10,000 is roughly the same as US suicides rates for the college-aged population. We agreed that mental health concerns are our ‘keep us awake at night’ shared issue.

We then met with Vice President Fang who will represent Wuhan University on the DKU board. She’s sharp, intense and determined to have Wuhan very involved in DKU and in other potential partnerships with Duke. Following the formal meeting, we all went off to lunch where toasts ensued with waves of food. I managed to find enough options to satisfy me.

After lunch, we met with the leadership of the Student Union with their staff advisor. These are great young people with identical desires as our student government. They advocate for changes on behalf of the student body and provide many events of all kinds. The one significant difference is that they have to raise most of their money from corporate and commercial donors. I loved meeting with these students and hope that some will continue their graduate education at DKU. Check out our group photo.

We then visited the university health center. This facility serves all university members, so students compete with faculty and staff (and their families) for access to medical care. I’m sure that the physicians and nurses are well trained and offer good care, but I have to say that as I entered the clinic, I felt like I’d gone back in time 50 years. The building was dark, cold and dingy (not very clean either) and people where just parked in various waiting areas awaiting their turn. Some of the treatments are archaic and the pharmacy has two windows…one for modern medicines and another for herbs and other more traditional remedies. This model just won’t do for the DKU population, though I must admit to being intrigued with the prospect of acupuncture and other Eastern health care approaches.

From there, we visited one of the dining venues. Here, we just have to realize that US students have advantages that are quite substantial (and costly). In China, 4 undergrads share a dorm room and often rooms aren’t heated (never mind cooled). You can see from the attached photo where clothes get dried and this particular dorm doesn’t even feature showers. The dining is cafeteria style with windows featuring a specific food item. Students get fed and housed, but for DKU, US standards will be featured.

The evening was spent at yet another all vegan restaurant in a hip, new section of Wuhan. We could have been in Boca Raton or Santa Monica given the array of familiar stores and restaurants, save for Art Vegan, where we ate. The world is definitely shrinking!

Yesterday, we flew to Shanghai and the afternoon was mostly an opportunity to rest. One more vegan dinner with Roger and Albert (our JonesLangLasalle colleagues) as well as with Frank Chen (also of JLL) who then treated me to a boat ride to see the Shanghai skyline.

Today, Sunday, has been a day afoot for me. I walked for several miles, along the Bund, the length of Nanjing Road, through the People’s Park, to the Shanghai Museum and then for lunch at a Mediterranean restaurant featuring falafels! I then walked to YuYuan Gardens for some last minute shopping. Tomorrow, I’ll spend the entire day in Kunshan and the surrounds and I can’t wait to see the DKU campus! That should provide the details for a final blog post. Looking forward to getting home!

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