Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Inspired In Shanghai (XieXie to Lyric Chan)


10:00 am Friday, March 13. Room 513, Building #2, 505 South Zhongshan Road, Shanghai.  Lyric Chan, Founder of Aspire Space, arranged the meeting.  Claire Kong sits across the conference table for our pre-workshop interview.  She's the weekend translator.  Nervous, somewhat apologetic, she wants to do a good job. Understandable.  Her English is great but she's never attended an experiential personal growth workshop and she's never before translated professionally. Appreciative that her friend asked her to do this, she's done her homework, read the materials in advance on her own. Her poise is what one would expect of a University of San Diego MBA graduate (she is).  All that said, she's still nervous.  Lyric assures her today's meeting is NOT a screening, it's a done deal, "I'm confident you'll do great.  Don't worry. You can't mess this up. We're here to support you."  

7:15 pm Friday, March 13. PuXi side of HuangPu, The Bund, Shanghai.   The last time I walked on this beautiful stretch of riverfront was 2011.  That was with Paul Marshall the weekend we delivered my aikido-based program (The Art of Practice & Organizational Dojo) - an adventurous undertaking, given the China VS Japan cultural and political sensitivities.  Tonight I'm alone... well not actually.  I'm surrounded by who knows how many people everywhere.  It's obvious the skyline has changed on the PuDong side.  I had a similar reaction in 2011, comparing the skyline then with prior Shanghai visits.  China is always growing.  But then again I heard today that the population is stabilizing. 

What hits me tonight?  Brilliant lights transforming skyscrapers into massive advertisement towers. What hits me tonight?  Little kids scrambling to run in front of parents and then, like kids back home, turn and laugh and make faces.  What hits me tonight?  Party boats with filled with celebration.  My friends, Roy and Ania, were married on a similar boat last November in Santa Monica, California.  What hits me tonight? Memories of Ray, Arizona, and the adjacent towns Sonora and Barcelona that formed the community I was born into.  The people walking the Bund at this very moment number more than all of the people who ever lived in and visited Ray, Sonora and Barcelona during their entire lifespans.  Yet, insignificant these tiny towns were not.  From them came musicians (Joe Corral) and cardiologists (Bethesda's Dr. Norman Rich) and artists, and entrepreneurs and public servants and down home people, and teachers who inspired and made life good for others.  Lots to reflect on.

10:08 am, Saturday, March 14.  Room 511, Building #2, 505 South Zhongshan Road, Shanghai.  Lyric has welcomed the members of "Aspired Space" here for the weekend - 23 women and 9 men - all eager - some HR executives, some consultants. One of the women here today served in the Chinese army.  Also today we have a police officer who was curious and came because of his wife.  Claire and I walk to the front of the room.  She introduces herself, admitting that she's never translated before but is here to do her best.  We launch into the program and we never look back.  By meal break she's relaxed.  As the afternoon simulation unfolds you'd swear she's already translated scores of programs.  When the day ends, and after witnessing the trust and expression and intensity of the participants, she turns and says, "I'm about ready to cry. I had no idea what to expect.  This was profound.  I just love it."

4:15 pm, Sunday, March 15. Room 511, Building #2, 505 South Zhongshan Road, Shanghai.  Lyric Chan wraps up the weekend program. I decided to add in the short TED video (complete with Chinese subtitles) of Benjamin Zander's "Shining Eyes".  Why?  Because Zander reinforces all of the weekend's learning and lessons.  He just uses a different metaphor.  I feel it's important for folks to understand the universality of what the weekend has been about, and I realize that I may never see them again.  So ... Why Not?!?

5:12 pm, Sunday, March 15.  505 South Zhongshan Road, Shanghai.
Lyric has completed his training and certification, and is now qualified to lead this simulation anywhere the world.  But, he's accomplished something larger.  He's effectively introduced the idea of embodied education - thought, emotion, integrated physical movement and expression, reflection, dialogue, and practice - to 32 colleagues.  Yesterday he said this was his objective.  He told them that there's much more to learning than the accumulation of data. His words have captured their attention and have taken root.  Claire Kong could well be back for more translator opportunities.  I hope so.  Her parting words, "I thought I was coming here to do some translation and help a friend.  But this is life changing.  I will remember what I've learned for the rest of my life.  You'll see me again."

XieXie (thank you) Lyric Chan

© March 2015, Lance Giroux

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