Discovering AI and Italian wines

What is AI?

AI (Artificial Intelligence) is all over the news. But what is it really? Our Rotary Club of Beijing has been discovering AI and Italian wines in recent meetings. Both speakers became members very recently.
As an engineer I am supposed to know a bit about AI but Tom has given a great overview of what is AI is today, and will be tomorrow, I learned a lot.
Tom is from The Netherlands and well known in the Dutch community.

His talk was on 17 January 3023 in Kempinski Hotel, during our Club’s lunch.
Tom‘s presentation explored the concept of generative AI and its impact on society, including how it is flipping the script on traditional artificial intelligence development and its potential effects on industries and innovation. Many examples (some live) were given during the presentation, as well as some key thought-starters for organizations on “where to start”.

Tom van Dillen is the owner of Greenkern, a transformation consultancy with offices in Beijing and Berlin. He moved to China in 1999, and hasn’t looked back since. Tom has a keen understanding of innovation and transformation and how these forces are shaping China’s dynamic society. He’s helped major multinationals navigate China’s fast-moving economy and Greenkern has become an advisor for organizations looking to adopt new thinking in automotive, healthcare, logistics and energy. When he’s not working, you’ll likely find him capturing the changing landscape of Beijing through his lens – or mowing the lawn at his cottage at the foot of the Great Wall.

The complexity and richness of Italian wines

On 28 February 2023 our member Jerome organized a wine tasting evening dinner in Blue Star Restaurant for the Rotary Club of Beijing, very well attended. See a peek in the kitchen!
Great evening with good food, friendly service and excellent variety of Italian wines.

Jerome Tafani is a French national based in Beijing since 2007 and has been an export manager of Asia Pacific for San Silvestro & Costa Di Bussia Wineries from Piemonte Italy for now a decade.
The two wineries are located in the Historical fine wines village of Barolo and belong to the Sartirano family which has owned the estates for 4 generations. The family’s wines are sold over 42 countries and have been in the Chinese market for over 20 years.
Jerome holds a Master degree in International Trade and other diplomas related to the Wine Education such as the British WSET level 3 and Italian Wine ambassador delivered by the famous Winemaker school of Alba Umberto I.
During the years of 2020 and 2021, Jerome was honored to be the chief Wine Critic for the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles on Chinese Wines from NingXia Region where more than 400 wines were tasted.
His life and work is now dedicated to promoting the Wine Culture and pursuing the discovery of high quality wines from both Italy and China and introducing them to consumers.

Sherry Liu speaking at Beijing Rotary lunch

Kempinski Hotel weekly lunch

On 9 August 2022 we welcomed Sherry Liu speaking at Beijing Rotary lunch.
Sherry Liu was once a prominent lawyer in Arizona, later an executive of Motorola, China. She was named  one of the best solicitors in 2004, graced the cover of American Lawyers Magazine, interviewed by BBC and CNN. At height of her successful career as a top executive at Motorola a disease diagnosis changed her life‘s trajectory, she soon found herself on the journey of self-discovery propelled by the innate desire to heal herself. Today she is a poet, painter and spiritual teacher. Ms. Liu brought some of her original paintings and some books to our meeting.

More about our speaker: Sherry Liu bio2022

See here the pics of our well-attended meeting, the paintings and books of Ms. Liu and the food.
Once more I acted as Sergeant-at-Arms and sold some of the Rotaract mugs, see below.

Rotaract Club of Beijing West and the history of Rotaract

I still miss the Club that at one point was so vibrant and successful. Lynn, a kind Rotaractor and former secretary of the Club, kept the leftover goodies and was so kind to send it all to my office. Included was the banner and many of the mugs they had made.

But who from our members knows the meaning of “Rotaract 50 years: 1968-2018”?
See here: “1968: Expanding our reach with Rotaract

The idea for Rotaract emerged in the mid-1960s, building on the success of Interact, Rotary’s service program for young people, which was founded in 1962.
Rotary members were looking for a way to promote Rotary to college students and other young adults who were over the Interact age limit. The answer was Rotaract: a service program for men and women ages 17-25 that would be sponsored by local Rotary clubs. (The age requirement later changed.)
The idea became reality in January 1968 when Rotary approved the Rotaract proposal. Members of the Rotary Club of Charlotte-North, North Carolina, USA, had worked with local university students, and they seized the opportunity to sponsor a Rotaract club. The first Rotaract club was certified by Rotary on 13 March 1968 at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
In the weeks that followed, more Rotaract clubs were started in the United States, Mexico, Italy, and India. About a year later, Rotaract boasted more than 200 clubs in over 25 countries and geographic areas.

Members-only lunch

On 2 August we had our members-only lunch at Kempinski Hotel, to inform our members about the Board Meeting that was held the day before.

Interesting talk and good food. Kevin trying to explain financial stuff. Complicated for an engineer like me.

Looking back Beijing Rotary 2018 (2)

2017-2018 Rotary China Conference

Looking back Beijing Rotary (2) focuses on a full day: 10 March 2018, that started in the Four Seasons Hotel with the China Conference.

The slides show our impressive past when we had so many active clubs, Rotary, Rotaract and Interact. Check the pictures to discover the situation that time and the big turnout.
It’s a piece of history…
Our president was Russell Brown.
You will see also in the pictures: Frank Yih, Ricard Zi, Mike Ma, Gary Huang, among others.
Of the clubs you find in the slides, this is as far as I know the present situation (officially active):

Rotary Clubs:
Rotary Club of Beijing
Rotary Club of Beijing East
Rotary Club of Beijing Riviera

Rotaract Clubs: all terminated as for now

Interact Clubs:
Interact Club of Dulwich College
Interact Club of ISB

Rotary Red Lantern Banquet 2018

The same evening in the Four Seasons Hotel we had our ball with many of our Rotaractors.

I am not sure when we can have any of those remarkable events again, with all the restrictions (COVID, regulations, dwindling membership…).

Looking back Beijing Rotary 2018

Cleaning up my pictures

I have been busy trying to clean up and reorganize my thousands of pictures. I managed to wade through 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019 and 2018. Result is a first batch of “Looking back Beijing Rotary 2018”.
The year 2018 was a super busy year for me, trips to Indianapolis USA, the shooting of the Jialing River movie, great stay in Phuket, many events, seminars, parties…
Remarkable is the amount of events with Rotary and Rotaract. Our clubs were so busy. It is a bit sad to see the pictures and noticing how many friends left Beijing.
The President of the Rotary Club of Beijing was Russell Brown, later followed by Martin Glatz.
I feel proud to have been so involved with our two Rotaract clubs who were so active.

Buffet dinner at Morel’s Restaurant

On 13 January 2018 I organized a buffet dinner with the help of Rotaract volunteers who also took care of receiving the payments.
It was called “Rotaract & Rotary Meet & Greet & Drink”, the event was very well attended by both Rotarians and Rotaractors, see the pictures that talk for themselves. Sadly many have left Beijing… Some four presidents of our club attended!

We also had the  induction of two new members (Robert Specht & David Boyle) by (then) President Russell, after a banner exchange.
More to come soon! Rotary Conference and Red Lantern Ball!

Beijing Rotary in April 2022

Kempinski lunch

Beijing Rotary in April 2022 was still active before one more COVID scare hit Beijing, shutting down all activities.
On Tuesday 19 April 2022 we had our lunch in Kempinski Hotel with Lucia Zhou, Program Manager of HOPE as our guest speaker. Lucia is a Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor recognized by PATH International (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship).
Topic: Update about HOPE and the Benefits of the Equine Therapy.

HOPE (Horses Offering People Enrichment) offers equine assisted activities and therapy (EAAT) for children with special needs. Founded by a Californian woman, HOPE was brought to Beijing to provide equine assisted therapy for children with sensory disorder, physical/visual, emotional/social disabilities, and autism. RC Beijing has in the past year sponsored an Instructor Training for one equine therapist through the Instructor Educational Course. Lucia Zhou, the program director at HOPE and a Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor recognized by PATH International (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship), brought to the meeting the instructor trainer who has recently completed her trainer training program, and a young adult who has received the equine therapy from HOPE. Lucia thanked the club for the support and sponsorship. With her training completed, the trainer is now equipped with skills to design and create tailored-made programs to benefit the children in need and is qualified to train other equine therapists to further their service in the community. Lucia and her colleagues expressed their wish that the club could continue to provide financial aid toward their instructor training this year.

Haochuan Tom Zhang also shared his experience at HOPE. While receiving therapy from HOPE, Tom also helps with working around the stable, looking after the horse he had ridden, and assisting with equine therapy.

More about HOPE

I had the chance to meet the HOPE team earlier and I also saw several of the videos showing the remarkable effect of the treatment.On 25 March 2018 Rotaract invited the HOPE people to give an introduction to their program, in the former Restaurant Red Rose.
The effect on kids with mental disabilities can be impressive. We saw kids that refused all communication with adults, they started riding the horses and created a bond with them. Then suddenly they spoke words never heard before…

See also: HOPE 2021 Annual Report Final with Photos

Online China District Conference

I joined the Tencent (Voov) meeting on Saturday afternoon on 23 April.
It was chaired by SR Richard Zi who also introduced the incoming SR Andrew Hill (1 July 2022). I found that part to be the most interesting.
See here the details:
The announced program: 220423 conference1
The updated program: 220423 conference2
The guest speaker: 220423 Conference Speaker

See some screenshots of the online meeting. I only saw myself appearing “life” from our club. And yes we even had a “group picture”, try to find me…
I had hoped to see more updates of all our China clubs as some of the clubs are struggling or even closing. While the guest speaker did a good job. I thought it was not relevant to what we really wanted to learn.
And we never got the slides that were shown…