Today, we had a quick breakfast before officially leaving the UCAS campus. We rode a bus into the main city, and we were taken straight to the United States Embassy.
The air quality index today was 500 (apparently due to a dust storm from the Gobi Desert), so we wore our face masks whenever we were outside. While waiting to enter the US Embassy, we saw a long line of Chinese citizens waiting to receive their visas. We met a man who share with us the wide array of cities in America that he’s visited, and he was joined by an excited woman who just received her visa to visit her son in Tampa. Just seeing the excitement on her face to go to America and visit her son reminded me of all my own family and friends’ grandparents that come to America and made me emotional.
We were escorted into the Embassy after a security check, and I was struck by how the entire Embassy (including the air quality) was immediately Americanized. After a brief tour, we all sat in Nancy’s office for a meeting. We discussed our research, Nancy’s path to her current position, the impact of the current political condition on the NSF, and differences between cultural attitudes towards science and education in the US and China. It was a powerful conversation, and Dr. Nancy Sung is certainly a role model.
Then, we headed to the hotel to check in. After a brief rest, we went onto the nearby street to shop. I picked up a few embroidered purse/wallets and a jade Buddha bracelet. I absolutely loved the shops that we stopped in; the jewelry, embroidery, and other items were beautiful and inexpensive.
We returned to the hotel, rested briefly, and set out to a local recommended restaurant. We ate Beijing Roast Duck, Scallion Pancakes, Kung Pao Chicken, Mushrooms, and a Vermicelli dish – they were all delicious!