Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Yesterday (Tue.) was a fantastic day spent with folks from the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts. It was all GAFA all the time, and was a great deal of fun and very successful.

At 9 AM we met with Professor Tong Huiming, the Deputy Director of the GAFA College of Design; Zhang Meiqin (Mary) Deputy Director & Translator from GAFA Foreign Affairs Office; Prof. Wenzhi Zhang; and Edward Peng from the Foreign Affairs Office. Edward has been helping us every step of the way, and it is truly amazing to see how much he, Mary, and many others have done to make our stay enjoyable and productive. They are truly providing first-class service to anticipate our needs.

The morning meeting went very well as we discussed the details of the summer 2007 Wood Fire Kiln Workshop/Conference to be held at Lake Superior College in Duluth. We are inviting 12 students from GAFA to come to Duluth for the two-week hands-on conference to learn new techniques along with many other participants from America and elsewhere. We also discussed several other exchange possibilities. They are eager to build on this first student exchange with the possibility of one semester or one year student exchanges. They are also very interested in additional faculty exchanges such as the one that brought Wenzhi Zhang to LSC for a semester and has brought Dorian Beaulieu to Guangzhou several times for shorter periods. It was a very successful meeting with more ideas expressed than what we can realistically handle in the next few years. However, we came away with some clear action items to ensure that the first student exchange will be a success.

We had an excellent lunch with everyone from the meeting and were joined by Vice President ZhaoJian who has responsibility for International Affairs for GAFA. He was very pleased with the report he received about our morning meeting and we had a great business lunch with much more discussion about the student exchange and possible faculty exchanges. At left he is shown presenting LSC with a Chinese symbol of good luck, to keep us safe from harm (terrorists).

In the afternoon we met with about 30 students who are studying ceramics at GAFA. The meeting began with about 20 students telling us individually (in English) about who they are, why they are interested in ceramics, and why they want to come to Duluth for the workshop. It was great fun to see these students so excited about the adventure that lay ahead. However, only 12 will receive invitations to come to America so this was also a little bit competitive where they felt that they had to impress us in order to get an invitation.

Jim, Dorian, and I talked about what their two weeks in Duluth would be like, showed some pictures of the area, showed the LSC 12-minute video, showed a couple of ceramics videos from LSC, and answered their questions. Dorian is a total rock star over here. So many people know him from his previous visits and he is held in such high regard.

The session ended with Jim, Rita, and me sitting at the wheel and throwing a pot. For Jim and me it was the first time ever, and it was the first time in over 20 years for Rita. We all did it successfully with about 30 or 40 of our new best friends watching and helping and having fun. The battery on my video camera gave out just before that, but we’ll probably get some photos from some our Chinese friends since there were flashes going off on a regular basis.

Dinner to end the day was, shall we say, “interesting.”

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