This is the first in a two-part series describing Sandy’s recent trip to China. You can read the second part here.
As much time as I spend in various cities and countries around the world, most of my trips are usually one or two dimensional. I am there for work or for vacation, for a specific purpose or for none at all. I stay in one hotel and I share my time with the same people.
In the case of my recent trip to China, however, just the opposite was true. It had been more than 30 years since I last visited the Middle Kingdom as part of the round-the-world journey I enjoyed after taking the bar exam in 1981. This time, I was here to work and to tour, to attend two very focused seminars and to learn about the culture in general.
Needless to say, much had changed since I last came to China’s shores—and some things seemed not to have changed at all. I spent time in two cities: Shanghai, a massive place of 20 million people, once considered the Paris of the Orient and now the New York of Asia. I also visited the ancient city of Xi’an, home to more than 8 million people but not yet to the many technological and economic advances so evident in Shanghai.
|Terra cotta soldier and terra cotta horse.|
My time in Xi’an started as a tourist. I visited the old city, within which walls cars have replaced bicycles as the main form of transportation; the world-famous terra cotta warriors and tomb of the Emperor of Qinshihuang, a complex comprised of three pits spanning 21 square miles; the Shaanxi Historical Museum, loaded with the history of the various dynasties that ruled the region from 1027 BCE to 907 CE; and the Muslim Quarter, complete with a mosque built in a fascinating blend of Chinese and Islamic architecture-style.
As we exited the mosque, we saw someone de-barking a tree with a tool that could have been from the bronze-age while, right next to him, another man was using an electric lathe to smooth the wood of an already bare tree. There on display, within the beautiful grounds of the mosque, was one of the great disparities of China: ancient routine vs. modern technology. It was a perfect way to end our tour.
Then it was down to business. I had come to Xi’an to take part in the opening ceremonies of an historic five-day seminar our foundation was co-sponsoring with the Jerusalem-based Haruv Institute and the Swedish Pediatric Society, both of which sent experts—Dr. Yoram Ben Yehuda of Haruv and Dr. Gabriel Otterman of the SPS—to train a group of 40 pediatricians from across China to identify and fight child abuse and neglect.
Why was this seminar historic? Because it marked the first time an Israeli organization had been invited to another country to train others on the subject of preventing and treating child abuse.
According to Professor Hillel Schmid, Director of the Haruv Institute, the seminar was proof of the recognition by the Chinese of two important facts: that pediatricians play an integral role in fighting child abuse, and that the Haruv Institute is among the foremost organizations in the world capable of providing knowledge and training in the prevention and treatment of child abuse.
For me, this was a watershed moment. When the Schusterman Foundation-Israel established the Haruv Institute in 2003, our vision was to create a world-class institute in the field of preventing and treating child abuse and neglect through research, advocacy and training programs. Here was our vision in action.
|Sandy (left) with Dr. Gabriel Otterman, Dr. Yoram Ben Yehuda and Chinese Doctor Professor Jiao Fuyong|
As I addressed the group of Chinese pediatricians in Xi’an—remarks I opened and closed in Chinese, a strong rebuke to those who suggest I am incapable of learning a foreign language!—I found myself thinking about Lynn. Who would have imagined that a woman from Oklahoma City who became concerned about abused children as a newlywed would start an institute in Israel that could help alleviate child abuse and neglect in China?
A powerful reminder, indeed, that no vision is too big or too grand when armed with the right resources, an indefatigable team who believes in your vision and, of course, a leader with a steadfast determination to see it through to fruition.
But that’s not all I learned during my visit to Xi’an. I learned as well that our commitment to partnerships and collaboration is one we must never abandon, no matter how challenging working in concert with others may prove. As I stood before the participants in the seminar, they knew little except that they were about to be the beneficiaries of a Chinese-Israeli-Swedish-American project, an effort that could not have been accomplished without the full commitment and cooperation of every partner involved.
I can only hope that this seminar, and the partnerships it brought together, is the first of many to come in the fight to eradicate the blight of child abuse and neglect.
But now it is time to head back to Shanghai …