25 June 2011

SkywatchFriday: Washington D.C., Fulbright to China

A long way from Montana, I'm in Washington D.C. for an orientation to prepare me for being a visiting professor next year in China.  A Fulbright Award is a huge honor and going to China is a huge -- and daunting -- adventure. It's been an intense 3 day orientation and on a short break between sessions I walked outside the hotel to take in a view of the sky:

By global standards, even the D.C.'s oldest architecture is quite young. Like my home in Butte or like most American cities, many of D.C.'s buildings date to our nation's industrial development after the Civil War. A building like this would not be out of place in Butte, Buffalo, or Boise:

But buildings get old, maintenance becomes expensive, and sometimes they fall into disuse (National Union Building, 1890):

Eventually, like D.C.'s Webster School (1881-2; a classic red brick urban school of this period), they are shuttered up and slated for demolition. But in D.C. as in Butte, there is a powerful social movement to save such buildings:

Despite the sentiments of historic preservationists, if a city is healthy, it must make room for new construction that better meets the needs of business and current residents. I was curious about the huge hole in the ground/construction site across from my hotel--turns out D.C.'s convention center has been razed and will be replaced with a giant shopping plaza:

I'm not judging whether this is good or bad, but it does indicate a changing urban American worldview, with private commercial space replacing public space (though it was public space built for private commerce). 

My soon-to-be host country of China seems to have no qualms about this sort of thing. I'll be with Southwest University of Chongqing, a city of 31.4 million people. Yep. That's 31,400,000 or  four times the size of New York City. It seems that everything is bigger in China: the university has more than 50,000 students. And, like much infrastructure in China, most of it is new and a product of China's phenomenal economic growth over the past decade or so (this photo is from China Travel Tips):

As I know from the friends I made many years ago in graduate school, many Chinese are friendly and welcoming of Americans. This was affirmed last night in a sumptuous reception at the home of Dr. You Shaozhong, the China Embassy's Minister Counselor for Education:

By the way, it's a classic c. 1900 house:

As those of you that know me and/or who read this blog understand, this is going to be quite an adventure for me. Accustomed to the 4-season outdoor recreation of Montana (fish, hike, hunt, ski), what's a nature boy to do? Check back next year and I'll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, it's back to my beloved mountains.


troutbirder said...

Wowza. That's terrific Eco. I hope you'll be able to continue your blog in The Middle Kingdom from similar and new angles both.
p.s. I left you a thank you on Troutbirder. My coffee table gift lies on, what else, a coffee table in our living room.\, where I take every opportunity to regale our friends, guests and family on the glories, history and people of The Big Hole Valley. :)

John Bardsley said...

Heading off to China on a Fulbright -- awesome!

Anonymous said...

I am impressed! Congratulations!!

Arija said...

You will have to keep blogging from over there. I don't know how addicted to bread and potatoes you are but they are the two things I missed most in the Chinese bill of fare. Even in hotels for westerners the bread for morning toast was abysmal and sweet.

I congratulate you on the Fulbright Award, it really is an honour. I think I would rapidly fall into a decline if I had to live in such a crowded place. I even hate supermarkets and general shopping and like to shop instead at our nearest farmer's market where everyone recognises everyone else.

We were in China for a couple of weeks as guest of the Chinese government and were given the royal treatment. The Prof lectured in Beijing.

The best of luck for your new venture!

Rob said...

great job on your blog, Pat. Best of luck in China, which I know will generate some great insights for the rest of us.
Robin Kichnet

Anonymous said...

Congrats on your Fulbright Award!

And what an adventure you have to look forward to. I worked at a University as a volunteer English Teacher (British equivalent to the Peace Corps) back in the 1980s in China. (I was based outside Changsha.)

Far Side of Fifty said...

I came over from Troutbirders to say HI! Congrats on your award and the trip to China..I bet you will miss Montana. I looked back on some of your posts, I really enjoyed your wildflowers! Best of luck to you in China..I hope you keep on blogging about your adventure! :)

Janie said...

Huge congratulations on the Fulbright Award, Eco! I'm excited for you. True, it'll be a big change from your Montana mountains, but going to China is the adventure of a lifetime. No doubt you will find time to explore some of nature's offerings there. I'll look forward to reading about it.

Rocky said...

You will really like China. I taught there a semester. If you haven't already begun learning Chinese, you should.

Rocky said...

Also a great place to help with learning Chinese is


While I had 4 years of Chinese in college, this site really improved my use of the language.

Merri said...

wow, that is awesome! from quiet mountains to 31 million people - eek, what a culture shock that will be.
- The Equestrian Vagabond

~ Sheepheads said...

5 July '11

Hi ER,

Congratulations. Exciting. Pick up a copy of Pa Chin's Family, or Random Thoughts for summer '11 reading.

Streams are almost fishable over here. Regards, gt

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