When I left Xinhua I needed to get to Guangzhou. I had a 6:30 p.m. dinner engagement on Thursday evening. I did get to Guangzhou the next afternoon with plenty of time to spare but I had to spend the night in Changsha in order to make the happen.
I didn’t have any particular meetings of business in Guangzhou, just social commitments. I put out sort of a broadcast message through social media telling many of my Chinese students and friends that I would be going to Zhuhai to speak at a conference, but that I would spend a few days in Guangzhou on my way to the conference. I added that if anybody could meet me I would love to have lunch, dinner coffee, tea or whatever with them. WOW, my schedule filled up fast! Some of these appointments were pretty confirmed before I left the states but most came together after I arrived in China. For today’s Blog post I decided to do some profiles of the people I met while in in Guangzhou.
Thursday Evening, May 24th. I arranged to meet Michael Fu and his parents. Michael was not technically one of my students at Harding but he was a Harding student that I grew to admire very quickly. He was the roommate of Zhang YiJun, one of my Host Family sons. So I sort of adopted him as well.
The previous year, while I was in China, I lost my passport. I called Zhang Yijun to ask him to help facilitate me going to Guangzhou and escorting me to and from the train station to the U.S. Embassy to help me get a new emergency passport so that I didn’t have to live out my days in China. Crescent as he is known, is a wonderful young man and was more than willing to help me but he said, “Do you know my Harding roommate, Michael Fu?” “Yes, I did,” I told him… “Well his father,” he told me, “is the director of International Relations for the Guongdong province and has an office in the same building. He can probably help you more than I can, but yes, I can come and get you and take you back and forth to the Embassy. I’ll call Michael and tell him what happened.”
Michael called me and said, “Hi Xie Yeye, I hear you’re having a problem?” I explained again what happened. He said, “Don’t worry I’ll call my father and he can help you.” Before too long I received a call from his father’s administrative assistant and she walked me through what needed to be done to get an emergency passport. When I arrived at the U.S. Embassy, I was almost escorted through the process with everybody greeting me with, “Oh, you must be Michael’s America Professor?”
An internet resource states Guanxi (Chinese: 關係) describes the rudimentary dynamic in personalized social networks of influence (which can be best described as the relationships individuals cultivate with other individuals) and is a central idea in Chinese society. If there was ever a personal situation where I needed and received Guanxi, it was now. I knew Michael from Harding but did not know him very well. Now, my admiration of him was escalating sky high. I was very anxious to meet him in person and thank him profusely for helping me. That didn’t happen until last August when we all got back to the Harding Campus.
The past year was a time that I often invited Michael, along with Crescent, to be involved with some of our social activities. Crescent and Michael may be two of the finest Chinese students that Harding has ever had, and I was glad to call them my Host Sons. Michael wasn’t technically in our Host Family program but I told him he was always invited to be a part of our group as long as he was at Harding. As the year went on I got to know Michael better. He is an amazing young man. Michael is a smart, handsome, polite, courteous, and a very good student. Many times when I would invite him to do something with our family he declined stating that he had to study. When Michael was able to join us we always had a fun time and grew to love him more. Michael and I talked about the next time I was in China that I wanted to meet his parents, partially to personally tell his father thanks for helping me, and partially to tell his mother and father what a wonderful young man they raised and nurtured! On May 24th I had the chance to do just that! I had dinner in Guangzhou with Michael, his father, Dr. Frank Fu and his delightful and beautiful mother, Diana Chen!
Michael’s father, Dr. Frank Fu is also a world renowned art collector. He has published a book of his collection and gifted me with a signed copy of the publication. Michaels mother, Diana, was delightfully conversational with me and I enjoyed speaking with her. Michael had told her about my academic and professional background so she wanted to talk to me about marketing. She works at a bank but is very interested in starting an Internet export Asian/Chinese business. Between the two parents I could see so much of why Michael is such a delightful young man. They should be proud.
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Steve Shaner, also known as Xie Yeye, is a professional story teller that delights in traveling to meet new and old friends. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.