Monday, December 31, 2007

Coming Home

What was my first impression coming back to the US? Diversity. I never realized how much I appreciated the U.S. for its diverse population. It was neat to go through customs and see white, black and hispanic, male and female customs officers, all stamping passports. That really makes up a lot of what the U.S. is, and it was fun to jump back into the "melting pot" after being away for a year.

I also enjoyed stepping back into Christmas. It finally felt like December when I got home and saw the lights on the house, the trees, pointsettias, garlands, stockings, etc. You don't realize how many little traditions there are in Christmas until you have none of them. In Beijing I found myself wanting to make and frost sugar cookies, or go Christmas tree shopping, or drink eggnog, or light a fire in the fireplace. I certainly got to experience all of that when I got home, so it was worth the trip :)

Most important of all, is the flocks of family members that made it down to Beaufort, SC. From Mom and Dad's side of the family, I saw about 35 folks all somehow related to me. Here is one of my favorite pics, with my Grandfather Ned and every one of his grandchildren:

Beaufort was also so warm that we spend many-a-night around a little fire chatting, eating and just spending time together.

One fun event that occured over Christmas week was the "1st Annual Ned Brown Family Photography Competition and Exhibition." With three professional photographers from the family as judges, everyone else competed over a 7 day period to take the best picture in the categories of Family, Beaufort, or the Christmas Spirit. I won the "Beaufort" category with this shot...don't we live in a beautiful place?

I have a few days left here before I go back to Beijing, and a few more friends to see, but I've done a lot over the couple of weeks and am glad I got the chance to spend Christmas here. As long as I live out of the country, I will probably always make the trek back for this time of's my favorite.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Goodbye Beijing!

We had a great End-of-the-semester/Birthday/Christmas party at my house on Tuesday. I got a chance to see all of my classmates for the last time and exchange presents. Below is a shot of our class. My teacher is to my right with her little girl in front of her.

And some of the sillier classmates in the group...

Treats were from around the world including Indonesia, Thailand and Korea! No one was shy, all just stood around the table eating and chatting!

Then we did a going-away activity where we wrote notes to each other on a piece of paper taped to the owner's back. It was a fun process and a meaningful piece of paper to keep in the future.

Now I'm off to the U.S. for Christmas, New Years and other festivities. Coming back January 17th. Goodbye Beijing! See you in 2008!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Adidas 2008 China Ad Campaign

Excuse the MBA in me coming out here, but this blog is about the best ad campaign I have seen in a long time. A big shout-out to a team of 5 creative directors in Shanghai and to Adidas for their 2008 Olympic Games advertising campaign. This was the first set of ads that stopped me in my tracks and made me stare at the wall in the subway. They did an excellent job of combining the excitement of the Olympic games with the passion for the people to come together and show the world what they are made of. The government could not have done a better job to convey the messages of passion, cohesiveness, national pride, and a will to win. It truly conveys and appeals to the "People" of China. The ads take on all forms from TV commercials to still shots in the subway to billboards and installations in the business district. I was moved by the ads, and I am not even Chinese. Incredible effective- the slogan "Impossible is Nothing" has never found a better fit.

I have included three still shots below, or if you want to watch it on Youtube:
(Adidas Ad- Youtube video)

Thursday, December 13, 2007


I saw my first Chinese Santa Clause the other day. Way too skinny, wrong accent, no rosey cheeks, and his beard was falling off! Christmas in China is almost comical. Yes, it is commercialized in the U.S., but it still has foundations. Americans know (and some celebrate) the true reason it exists. Others treat it as a time to return home and see family. All the while, of course, spending money and exchanging gifts. But imagine a country that sells Christmas trees and red and green-wrapped presents, and a population that buys them, and no one knows why! They are all at work on the 25th for goodness sake! No one sees their family, it is not celebrated for religious reasons, they don't even exchange presents. I've yet to figure out why anything Christmas-related is sold in a store.

I called my Dad sometime around the 10th of December, and told him that one of the things I was looking forward to the most was walking into a decorated house with the tree, presents, stockings, baked goods, etc. Do you know what his response was? "Oh, well we'll go buy the tree tomorrow!" Haha. Wouldn't you know it, they've all been too busy to put up the tree.

Thanksgiving, the 4th of July and Halloween were all interesting to celebrate in China, even though not quite the same as the US. Christmas, however, has hundreds of tiny little traditions wound into it that you don't realize exist until they are missing. Frosted sugar cookies, hanging garlands, ornaments, egg nog, stockings, yard decorations, singing carols, ribbon everywhere, candy canes, wish lists, musicals, writing cards, seasonal movies, fireplaces and hot chocolate...just a few of the many parts of Christmas that I am looking forward to in the States. Of all the holidays, this would definitely be the hardest to miss.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

A couple more pictures never hurt!

I feel like I've left out a lot of friends recently, so just wanted to post a couple more pictures. This is a group that went for Karaoke in "Korea town" here in Beijing, mostly Thai and Indonesians classmates + one American!

And this adorable Korean gal is one of my cutest classmates. She spent last Saturday afternoon at my house patiently teaching us how to make some Korean dishes :) I can't wait to visit her one day in Korea!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

In case you were wondering what would happen if...

And some of you thought I could never have more Chinese characteristics!

I was testing wigs so that I could surprise everyone with a new haircolor when I came home. Watch out :)