Archive for May 2009

Tuesday, May 26

May 26, 2009

I can’t believe that it is already Tuesday of our second week here! Time is going by way too fast!

Today is largely a free day for us— We have been exploring the shopping areas that surround our hotel. Several students from the Nanjing Medical University have graciously offered to escort us in between their classes to walk around to one of the large department stores a few blocks away as well as to an underground funky mall with hundreds of small shops selling everything from clothes to shoes to jewelry to trinkets. At 5:30 pm, we are meeting in the hotel lobby to head out for dinner. Rumor has it that we are going to eat “Western” style– that means a trip to KFC or McDonald’s! We are all longing for something from home to eat!


Wednesday will be a day of visiting several hospital facilities in and around Nanjing before flying to Beijing on Thursday!


Monday — day of business (and fun, too!)

May 26, 2009

Monday morning was spent primarily at the Nanjing Medical University where we toured several of the buildings, including the Library at the downtown Watai campus. Following the tours and meetings with students, we left the downtown campus and headed to the larger and newer suburban campus just outside Nanjing.

The Jianging campus is a sprawling green campus with lakes and large modern buildings spread out across hundreds of acres of land. The library here is a modern, state-of-the-art facility that serves as the central health sciences library for the Jiangsu Province of China. The library has over 940,000 books and 4,700 periodical subscriptions in both English and Chinese. Many additional resources are available electronically across the campus from well-known vendors such as Elsevier Science Direct, EBSCOhost, and OVID/Lippincott-Williams & Wilkins.

During the afternoon, in a light rain, we toured various campus buildings including labs, learning areas, nursing simulation facilities, and state-of-the-art computer labs. The level of technology and innovative learning tools here was impressive. I would have loved to have stayed behind and played with some of the programs even though they were all in Chinese! Towards the end of the afternoon, we gathered with our student and faculty counterparts for presentations by RMU student Jen Maley and RMU School of Nursing Dean, Dr. Lynda Davidson, on trauma services in America and Nursing in America. The Nanjing Medical University students presented each of us with hand-made Chinese ornaments that we will cherish as a memory of our visit to their school.

What followed was what quickly became the highlight of the day: a stop at the school canteen (cafeteria) for a hands-on lesson in the Chinese art of making dumplings! Students and faculty from both schools joined together in making trays of dumplings which were later cooked and served as part of our dinner! Everyone had great fun making (and soon perfecting) the art of creating dumplings-Chinese style! A great way to end a very educational day!

Nanjing – Day 2

May 26, 2009

The Central Hotel in downtown Nanjing will be our home for the next few days. As the name implies, it is in the center of downtown and overlooks one of the busiest streets in the city. The accommodations are very nice, and the housekeepers pay close attention to every detail!

Sunday was primarily a day of sightseeing. We traveled to the ancient city wall constructed centuries ago to protect Nanjing from outside invaders. Today the area is a park where many people can come to walk, have picnics, and relax among the great old trees that are throughout the park. A good portion of the morning was spent exploring the Dr. Sun-Yet Sen Memorial Park and several ancient tombs with surrounding symbolic statuary.

Later in the afternoon, we traveled to the Confucius Temple area where we toured, and then did some shopping in the open-air shops all around the area. For dinner, we met with RMU President Dell ‘Omo and Provost Jamison and their counterparts and faculty from Nanjing Medical University for a festive dinner, complete with entertainment at one of the restaurants in the Confucius Temple district. Dinner was very enjoyable and a good time was had by all.


May 26, 2009

Dr. Woo, one of our RMU Rooney scholars last semester, met us at the hotel on Saturday morning to see us off on the next leg of our journey through China. Dr. Woo and Sobrina from the SHC Foreign Affairs office were terrific hosts and guides throughout our stay in Suzhou, and we were sorry to leave them on Saturday morning.

Leaving Suzhou, we headed for Nanjing with a stop in Wuxi to visit the expansive and renowned Buddhist temple complex located there. The statue here is enormous and there are hundreds of steps to climb in order to reach the base of the statue. Just about all of us climbed them all, me included! Inside, you can go up even higher as well as visit several historical displays. Next to the statue is an absolutely exquisite temple that was recently completed. It is a magnificent structure. Incense fills the air as it burns in huge urns. The architecture of the temple is awesome.


A few hours later, we arrived in Nanjing, and stopped at the Nanjing Medical University for dinner before checking into our hotel a few blocks away. Just like Shanghai and Suzhou, Nanjing is a very busy place and full of activity.

Friday, May 22

May 26, 2009

Friday morning found us heading to another ancient canal area around Suzhou called Zhouzhuang. The canals were lined with open-air shops selling all types of items as well as restaurants. In addition, we visited several old homes along the canals that have been preserved in their original states. They were truly exquisite examples of Chinese architecture from the past. We all shopped in the store and bartered with the shopkeepers to (hopefully) get the best prices for our purchases. I picked up a silk tie for 5 yaun– about 95 cents in US currency! The students had a blast negotiating back and forth–some of them really drove a hard bargain! We stopped for lunch in one of the small local restaurants that lined the open-air marketplace.

In the afternoon, we drove about one hour outside of Suzhou to Taihu Lake and a small rural town where we visited another old Chinese home and surrounding gardens. This house was another excellent example of beautiful carved woodwork and craftsmanship from an earlier period.


We rushed back to the city for the scheduled 5:30 pm agreement signing ceremony between Suzhou Medical COllege and Robert Morris University. Once back at the hotel, we had exactly 30 minutes to transform from tourists to dresses and shirts/ties. Amazingly, we pulled it off!!! Off we went on the bus to the Suzhou Medical College campus outside the city, and we literally pulled up at 5:29 pm!

The signing ceremony was a formal affair that began with introductions from the Presidents of both universities and statements of welcome and collaboration. After the documents were signed and exchanged, a group picture was taken and everyone present-students, faculty, and administrators- all headed back to the Sanyan Hotel for a celebratory dinner.

At this excellent dinner, numerous toasts were made among all of the guests, and karoke entertainment in both Chinese and English followed with faculty and students. The rendition of “Hey Jude” by Drs. Davidson and George will be a lasting memory for all! Many friends were made that night! Afterwards, students from SMC and RMU interacted among themselves to make a memorable international experience!

Thursday May 21: Suzhou

May 26, 2009

On Thursday morning, we headed to the Humble Administrator’s Garden, one of China’s four most famous gardens. These landscapes, waterscapes, and exquisite buildings were built as early as 1509 AD under the reign of Zhengde during the Ming dynasty. The gardens were peaceful as many paths and bridges meandered throughout the complex. Of special interest was an extensive bonsai garden that contained thousands of perfectly manicured bonsai plantings of all different sizes and shapes.


Following our tour of the gardens, we walked a few blocks to the Suzhou Museum. The present museum building was designed by world renowned architect I.P. Pei and opened in 2006. This museum displays works of art from the Wu region, which includes Suzhou and surrounding areas. Included among the 30,000 items are treasures, painting, relics, crafts, and calligraphy.

In the evening, we took a bus tour of the “industrial” (new) part of Suzhou which took us to some of the new buildings including a multi-colored lighted auditorium/arena and an amusement park with a large ferris wheel. It seems like every square inch of this area was lit up in a variety of colorful lights of all sorts and colors!

Visits to Suzhou hospitals

May 22, 2009

The remainder of Wednesday afternoon was spent visiting and touring several hospitals in Suzhou. Our bus driver has been most accommodating and he is a very skilled driver in what looks to all of us to be nearly impossible driving conditions, particularly during the rush hours. There are pedestrians everywhere along with bicycles, mopeds, motorcycles, people pulling carts, cars, buses, and trucks. The only thing missing on China’s roads are large tractor trailers! All of these people and vehicles feel that they have the right-of-way and everyone else be damned. The incredible thing is that it seems to work very well!! We haven’t seen any accidents of any major consequence yet! But we have seen hundreds of close calls in just a few days! Keep your fingers crossed that this continues!

Our first stop was the 2nd Affiliated Hospital of Soochow in Suzhou. A very busy place to say the least! We toured the Emergency Room areas first. In China, ERs are not utilized in quite the same fashion as many American ERs are. True and serious emergencies are treated in Chinese ERs. You don’t go to the ER here for a band-aid like many do in America! Following our tour of the existing hospital, we traveled across the street where a new large additional hospital is just being finished and will open in a few weeks. The facility was state-of-the-art, with all brand new equipment and the latest in hospital architecture. Our last stop was to the Maternity Center of Municipal Hospital, which specializes in pre- and post-natal services. Like many areas of Suzhou in general, this hospital complex was newly constructed and reflected state of-the-art technology. It was interesting to observe an uncluttered atmosphere throughout both of the operating hospitals that we visited. It was obvious that the one just ready to open will have the same characteristic.

After returning to the hotel and following another traditional Chinese dinner, we headed out for an evening of sightseeing in the rain. Our tour guide took us to one of old canals that are prevalent in Suzhou. The rain and mist certainly added to the mystique that made all of us feel that were in a old classic Chinese movie. All kinds of shops lined both sides of the canal and most were dimly lit but open. The sidewalk was very close to the water, and one small slip could put you in the water. Classic red Chinese lanterns lit the canal and walkway. We checked out the shops and dodged puddles of water for about an hour before retreating to the relative comfort of our bus. Returning to the hotel, we were all pretty soaked and ready for bed. Our shopping excursion is better suited for a dry day!

Coming next—A day of sightseeing in and around Suzhou!