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Saturday was the big day for the China Initiative. It started out comically, as our bus was hopelessly stuck in a narrow passage with no way to turn around or back up until Jay Gentry ’89 from Edison Learning got out to stop traffic and saved the day. The first event was an Admissions panel session at the Shanghai campus of Dulwich College (which is actually a gorgeous and high tech high school complex) , similar to the one we did at Shi Xi High School. In fact, some of the same students came back to ask more questions. The main message I tried to get across was that the Library is dedicated to student success and we will help them in any way we can. Afterward, the Wake Forest contingent was available for questions by individual students and parents. Many students came up to ask me about the strange library that was open 24 hours and had a Starbucks in it. Most students were interested in business or science, but this shy young woman spoke to Dr. Claudia Kairoff about her love for English literature. Her father told me that he wanted her to do whatever she loved and was so happy to see her gain in confidence by talking to Claudia.
The main event of the trip was the concert by Dr. Peter Kairoff. A special Steinway Concert Grand D piano had been delivered to the hall that morning and it was a perfect match for Peter, who had just been named a Steinway Artist prior to the trip. Even for those with little knowledge of classical music, it was a magical experience. You could watch his hands delight in the keyboard, which was described as “soft as butter.” The master of Dulwich College Shanghai was so pleased that he purchased the grand piano on the spot, saying he could not bear to see it leave.
And finally, we had a traditional grand banquet in the Chinese style to thank our hosts for this wonderful experience. There were many greetings and speeches, and a wonderful tradition of ganbei where the hosts walk around the hall and give toasts to each table.