John van de Water talked to Rotary

14 September 2021 dinner

Architect John van de Water talked to Rotary during our dinner in Schlinders Tankstelle; a very interesting presentation on the topic: “What Design Can Do”.

Dutch architect John van de Water is co-founder of NEXT architects Amsterdam [in 1999] and NEXT architects Beijing [in 2004]. Over the years, NEXT projects has cultivated a strong name in contextual and innovative design. John has received numerous awards, such as the biennial ‘Top 100 most influential architects in China’ by Architectural Digest magazine in 2017 and 2019. In his talk: ‘What design can do?!’, John questioned the concept of sustainable design for China. What kind of design could that result into for existing and future cities?

See the China Rose Museum, now closed that was the main venue for the ‘World Rose Convention 2016’. It is located exactly on the Beijing Central Axis.

The “chicoree salad” was disappointing (chicoree? where? is it supposd to be endive?) but the pork escalope was very good. And by the way, try their pork ribs, the best in Beijing.

More about John van de Water from NEXT Architects

In 1999, four fresh out of school young Dutch architects, after four months of traveling and research, inspired by the architectural and structural innovations in many major cities, set up an architectural firm, NEXT, in Amsterdam, with a mind to create the next generation of architecture. While the young architects explored and experimented with building and furniture designs in its early days, a 2004 email to invite this young architect firm to participate in the forthcoming Beijing Olympics, changed the fate of the young firm, as well as some of the city landscapes in the following 17 years in China.

In his insightful talk, John recounted the cultural clashes, the bewilderment, the encountering, and then navigating within alien culture and business practices. On his arrival in China, John was awed by the long history of the cities he traveled to, like Luoyang, and also by the massive transformation from rural villages to metropolises at breakneck speed, like Shenzhen. In the end, it was a narrative of his eventually adopting and integrating the alien cultural and business practices with his western training and methodology. By sharing many of his design concepts, John demonstrated that architecture was more than just designing and constructing buildings, but it was a process of exploring space and its surroundings, incorporating functionalities and utilities, creating conveniences for and accommodating the habits of the human occupants, and eventually a sustainable design concept that can embed local cultural characteristics.

See: (under construction)

Rotary Beijing in Summer part 2

17 August 2021

Here Rotary Beijing in Summer part 2! Back in Kempinski Hotel for our Tuesday lunch meeting. with a remarkable set of speakers, Charles and Kate Wang on the topic: “An Amputee’s Road to Full Recovery: A Personal Story”

This moving speech was about two people, who through personal experiences, witnessed and understood the challenges facing the amputees in China and took it upon themselves to provide the needed help. Charles, originally from China but sent away to the US at an early age, became a specialist in prosthetic rehabilitation, after received training from Duke and Northwestern University and worked at the Veteran’s Affairs Hospital in the States. Upon his return to China, he saw few people with disabilities, but the statics betrayed the true story of 3-5 million amputees.

Many were fitted with subpar prosthetics, and many of the younger amputees numbered 100,000, were fitted with ill-fitted adults’ components. There were no programs to help those amputees to regain their mobility or psychological counseling to deal with the aftermath of being amputated. They had been shunned and tucked away, neglected and ignored. Most of those amputees, after being deprived of their limps, were also denied education, jobs, or a normal life. So Charles teamed with Georg Hoffmann-Kuhnt, the prosthetics specialist from Germany and a long-time Beijing resident, to set up Morning Star to provide full-body rehabilitation, a facility very much lacking in China.

Kate, Charles’s wife, a native of Sichuan, was a teacher and trained as a dancer before losing both of her legs, as a result of having been buried under the rubbles for 30 hours during the Wenchuan Earthquake. After she recovered, Kate started a long journey of rehabilitation. While Kate recovered from the amputation, she found that many children were not so lucky. Many of those young children had difficulties adjusting to a life with disabilities and they could find no help, from the adults around them or society at large. There were no systematic programs in China to help people with disabilities to return to society, and Kate recounted many stories of the systemic prejudice and inconveniences many of the amputees faced. Kate was sent to Canada where for the first time, she was shown that being an amputee with well-fitting prosthetics, she could be who she wanted to be and do what she wanted to. She could swim, ski, run, and to her delight, even be taller, from having a height boost from her new legs!

The most important part of a leg prosthesis is the part that contacts the body, and this has to be handmade and fitted individually. At Morning Star, amputees, both adults, and young children are given professionally fitted prostheses, and importantly, they are given a second life to enjoy swimming, dancing, and other playful pursuits.

The two couples, Charles and Kate, Georg and Michelle, with their understanding of what amputees face in this harsh and hard society, are now devoting their professional expertise to providing professionally-made prostheses and supporting programs to help the amputees to rehabilitate, and recover their lost meaning of life.

24 August 2021

A small but cozy fellowship in Morel’s Restaurant, as many members were away or busy.

Teddy and Eddy joined the happy evening

31 August 2021

Another Kempinski lunch, with the induction of our new member Ralf and as speakers Celyn Bricker and Faye Lu on the topic “Protecting wildlife while staying at home”.

See an overview of their talk.
I enjoyed the mushroom soup and the roulade. Well done.

Rotary Beijing in Summer part 1

27 July 2021

See here Rotary Beijing in Summer part 1: A very relaxed dinner in Schindlers Tankstelle Sanlitun with a special Country Western performance once more by Kevin and Brian (Bag of Bears Band!). Most of the songs are my favorite, mostly from ‘70s and ‘80s. I had the mushroom soup and the BBQ ribs, all great!

No speaker, simply enjoying the music and fellowship.

Rotaract events

Small get together meeting with Trefyn the new President of Rotaract for 21-22, on 14 July in The Local and then on 26 July I gave a talk in the Yard House (SOHO Sanlitun).

And yes some volunteering again!
On 30 July 2021 Rotaractors joined MCF (Migrant Children Foundation) to go to Beijing Huiling to make some DIY dog puppets. Beijing Huiling is a place for children and young adults with learning and intellectual disabilities. With the 15 young adults at Beijing Huiling, Rotaract and MCF constructed dog puppets. Some of the young adults were even able to say the names of the body parts of the dog puppets in English. Many of the young adults needed help putting the puppets together. When everyone had finished making their puppet everyone gathered to take a picture.

See the happy smiles!
And another career talk on 9 August by Didier, our president of the Rotary Club of Beijing.

I followed by ZOOM.

10 August 2021

Another successful dinner in Schindler Tankstelle, this time with an inspiring speaker:
Josh Dominik – Topic: “Krankin’ through China: Adaptive Sports in the Middle Kingdom”

“Krankin’ through China” is a team of individuals who promote adaptive supports and inclusive activities in Greater China. Their goals are to raise social awareness, accessibility mindset, and improve health through motion by all people. Josh is from New Mexico, Florida, and New York and has lived in China since 2005. He shared with the audience his passion for outdoor sports, a passion since he was a child. Adaptive sports, Josh explained, started after WWII when injured veterans returned home. Adaptations were made so that those sports could suit the veterans to allow them to participate and do sports. Adaptive sports also allow those veterans with disabilities to integrate back into society. Adaptive sports like surfing, kayaking, cycling, or swimming are especially good because nobody can see at first glance that a person is disabled. Josh’s interest in adaptive sports started when he saw a disabled person couldn’t get to an elevator because of a crowd around it. He felt there was a need for awareness to help both normal people and people with disabilities to get along. Josh saw this as a good way to “give back” to the community. So Krankin’ through China was born.

Krankin’ Through China has both members and volunteers. They do everything together to cement a cooperative community, and to encourage leadership by everyone.

Rotary lunch 20 July 2021

I quit

We had our Rotary lunch 20 July 2021 in Kempinski, this time not anymore as Sergeant-at-Arms as I quit for “obvious personal reasons”. Well I can finally enjoy the food, the company and listen to the speaker!

Speaker was Sean McLeod, consular officer in US Embassy in Beijing. Topic: “ “How I Became a Foreign Service Officer”.
He told his story on how he become a diplomat after a diverse career, with posts in Indonesia, among among others. He was deeply involved with the evacuation flights from Wuhan last year.

Meeting Highlight as in the Newsletter

Sean McLeod is a consular officer from the US Embassy in Beijing. In this captivating talk, Sean described the trajectory of his career and highlighted the reasons why he decided to quit the private sector to serve his country. It all started with medicine. Sean first studied to become a doctor, but finding it not what he wanted, he made a big jump to computer programing and moved to Japan to live overseas for the first time. Finding it not fulfilling still, he went on to study for an MBA and later became a management consultant for IBM for 15 years. While as many people would have just settled down at what they had at this stage in life, Sean was not satisfied. Deciding to join the foreign service, he then took the foreign service examination and after successfully passing it, took the foreign service training on teamwork and how to achieve consensus on issues while representing US interests abroad. Sean’s current tour is in the consular section at the US Embassy in Beijing.

Rotary Club of Beijing memories

Cleaning up my paper mountain

As many friends know, I have this annoying statement since a few years that I am trying to clean up the mountain of files in my office. Annoying because I always mention it but failed to make any progress. But I am discovering a lot like Rotary Club of Beijing memories, among many other. It seems like a huge jigsaw puzzle as papers are all mixed up, sometimes with no date stamp. But yes I am making progress and my tricycle recycling friend has more waste paper to collect.
But sometimes I am left puzzled about those hazy memories.

A gold medalist

I stumbled on this small newspaper clipping:

I think the small article is from China Daily. I found the longer version here:

I had nearly forgotten about it. I found back the old post on my website, see here the updated version:
Sergey Bubka, the IOC and Beijing Rotary Club,

Few of our present members ever heard about Sun Children Village… One of the projects we supported. We even had a Rotary Villa there…

GSE 2008

GSE is “Group Study Exchange”. We did that in 2008 when we sent a Chinese team to New Zealand and we then received their team in Shanghai and Beijing. It was a difficult and complicated organization with our Kiwi friends staying all over the city in different locations and changing then from one family to the other. One, Jo, stayed with me and I found back her note, see the pic. I had also organized for her a meeting with one of the most important pharmaceutical companies involved in diabetes medicine; Ms. Joana Young BSc, PG Dip SCi was doing her PhD – Clinical Scientist, Lipid and Diabetes Research Group, Christchurch Hospital.

We had a very varied and full program for the group, but also filled with fun: I took them to a big lesbian evening where we had a great night. To say farewell to our New Zealand GSE team we organized a dinner on Friday 25 April 2008 in Restaurant Sahara (long gone, close to Salsa Caribe, also gone). We had a large VIP room with our own buffet of Middle East cuisine plus belly dancing in our room.

See some of the many pics (never published). One is during our Rotary lunch with the whole team presented; one in Pipe Cafe, long gone and razed, gongti nan lu, that time the biggest lesbian bar where I had privileged access; one in Sahara Restaurant.
Overall it was a big success but it also proved to be too much work for the Club.