Monday, August 29, 2011

Just Did It

posted by Alan
click on pictures to see them full size

Earthquake, hurricane and tornadoes? In one week? Poor NYC. I'm trusting that you're all ok.

I'm sure many of you have heard of or seen "Georgetown vs. China" by now. It's disappointing but not surprising. With Yao Ming retiring, Chinese basketball is back in the cellar. In a nation that's all about "face," losing against foreigners isn't a good look. Chinese basketball teams have had a few memorable fights with other foreign teams in the not-so-distant past as well. Fights in the heat of battle during a game, ok, it happens. But I really wish they'd stop picking up chairs. C'mon China, that just make you look like a sissy.

Mercedes Benz Area, Shanghai (not my picture)

That same evening I was at the awesome Mercedes Benz Arena here in Shanghai watching Duke play the junior men's national team. It was a well fought game, without the stupidness of the one above. The stadium itself was built for the Expo last year and is world-class amazing. Duke beat the China team pretty easily, despite not playing too well. Duke basketball live. Another "American" thing I've done here in China that I probably wouldn't get to do in America.

Those games culminated in the Nike Festival of Sport here in Shanghai. A four day Swoosh-fest put on by Nike to strengthen their brand here in the world's largest market. They built 10 new basketball courts around the 80,000 seat Shanghai Stadium and created stations for nearly every sport. Even MMA. They made products available for people to wear, skills challenges and brought in pro athletes to conduct clinics. NBA players like Lebron, Amare Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler, Chris Bosh and Kyrie Irving were all here. Along with Duke and the now China-infamous Georgetown basketball teams. All FREE to the public. A couple of my friends work for Nike China, so we got the insiders tour. A really cool event. Nike knows marketing.

Nike Festival of Sport - 2011 Shanghai

LaMarcus Aldridge

Chris Bosh; me with former Knick, Othella Harrington (aka Biz Markie)

Georgetown warming up behind us; NBAer's at closing ceremony

If you're not into sports, sorry. Here's Janie:

Janie & Anna-Sophie (1 mo younger..confirming that Germans are huge); Janie and Daisy in our new apt

Response to comments:
Elyse - Yup, that's Katie. It's funny how the more you go out into the world, the smaller it becomes. See you on this side sometime soon!

Saturday, August 20, 2011


posted by Alan
click on the pictures to see them full size

At the end of June, just before our trip to the US (two days before our flight), I joined the SCF Youth Group on their annual trip with Habitat for Humanity. We went to help rebuild homes in areas that were affected by the devastating 2008 earthquake in Sichuan province (or as out-dated Chinese take-out joints call it, Szechuan). A team of 18 of us spent 9 days diligently working our butts off to try to get these apartment buildings ready for people to move in. This wasn't a typical HfH build, in that we weren't really building homes, we were pretty much working a construction site. But nevertheless, all that mattered was that people needed homes.

Two of the major things that stood out from this trip was once again, incredible community and simplicity of life. Our schedules were pretty constant. Wake up, group devotion time, work, lunch, work, shower, dinner, sharing/fellowship/games. It sounds repetitive, but simplifying life that way really was enjoyable. And everything we did was together. There was no complaining or whining, despite the grueling work we were doing. Team building at its finest.

We also visited an earthquake memorial site and temporary housing shelters for the people who were waiting to move into the homes we worked on. The memorial site really showed the magnitude of the devastation the earthquake caused, while the shelters and meeting the people reflected devastation of a deeper level. The shelters were basically tin boxes. One man had me come inside and told me to touch the wall. It was almost to hot to put my hand on. These people have been living like this for three years. Motivation to work was not a problem.

It was an unforgettable trip. The region we were in was in a mountain valley with blue skies and rivers. The bonds and relationships formed with the kids were lasting. But the most impactful memory I will have is the one below:

I straggled into the shelters behind the rest of the group. As I was walking, this woman came out with her baby. I spoke with her and showed her pictures of Janie and it just felt like nice parent-talk stuff. But then it hit me. We're constantly adjusting Janie's AC to make it comfortable for her. Letting her try different foods and different toys. These parents can't do any of that for their baby. Janie has trouble sleeping when she's hot. This one doesn't have a choice. Disasters happen and it's big news for awhile...and then it's not. It's so easy to forget. I look forward to the day I can bring Janie on a trip like this one.

Click here to see a full album of our trip to NYC: Habitat for Humanity - Sichuan 2011

oh, and no trip to Sichuan is complete without hot pot and pandas.