Lincoln Public Schools Superintendent Steve Joel is on a two-week trip to China, sponsored by the Confucius Institute at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The experience is an educational and cultural exchange between the Confucius Institute and Xi’an Jiaotong University, sister university of UNL. The traveling group includes representatives from Lincoln Public Schools, UNL, the city of Lincoln and state government. The itinerary features events – including several visits to Chinese schools – designed to exchange ideas and increase cross-cultural understanding between the two countries.
Joel will share periodic reports of the journey.
It seems like we have been traveling for days. Our original flight out of Lincoln was delayed, which caused us to go back home and return Sunday night to be re-routed to Chicago. We spent the night in Chicago and boarded the plane on Monday for a 12-hour (plus) flight to Beijing. The plane was packed and, although United Airlines gave our group seats with five more inches of room, I ended up in a dreaded middle seat. I am always impressed with people who sleep better in planes than they do at home. Unfortunately, I am not one of them. I managed to nab maybe an hour of sleep in sporadic attempts.
Upon arrival in Beijing, we were greeted with the worst traffic I have ever experienced. It took almost three hours to get from the airport to the hotel. Our guide told us that Beijing adds 20,000 cars each month, which is unbelievable in lieu of the existing congestion.
The glitch in travel plans has cost us a day, so the leaders of our team are trying to consolidate and combine activities. That likely means very little spare time. We have our opening ceremony this morning with our sponsors.