China, 7/30/06

GSCET poster gate

Internet access at East China Normal University in Shanghai was not as easy as I thought it would be, especially since I left my laptop in the U.S. (which, in retrospect, wasn’t really necessary). So… I’m a little behind on my blog. In the next few days I will try to get caught up by posting my experiences in Shanghai, at ECNU, and at the first edition of GSCET; I will also post some pictures of my trip to my flickr account.

My trip to China was an easy one, despite a few flight delays. One of the graduate students from ECNU picked me up from the airport and took me back to campus by bus and taxi (as I was to find out in subsequent days, public transportation (metro, taxi, and bus) is the way to go in Shanghai, as it is easy and cheap, and trying to drive in Shanghai would be like trying to commit suicide for a foreigner. The city is very crowded, and traffic seems like a chaotic mix of pedestrians, bikes, scooters, cars, and buses. Nevertheless, I did not see a single accident while I was there, even though the color of the traffic lights really doesn’t seem to matter most of the time. All this is happening in a city of 16 million people with lots of neon lights and stores big and small.

As we were driving toward campus, I found out I had a presentation to do the next day, so after dinner we went to find a computer to create a quick PowerPoint. As I was to learn, flexibility was an important asset to have at the conference, with its many last minute changes.

While I was working on my presentation, several professors stepped in to say hello even though it was getting late, and David, one of the graduate students who came in to help started asking me all kinds of questions about mobile computing. This turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the conference: being able to talk with Chinese students about their research interests, education, and life in general. I did quite a bit of conversing over the 8 days or so in Shanghai.

What I realized during this initial conversation was that there are many similarities between the US and China when it comes to the generational/participation gap with regards to technology, as well as other areas of education.

Our conversation got cut short by the late hour and the fact that I had to present the next day, but my initial experiences in China were very good.

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