In my previous blog about some of my friends in China, I told you about Don. Well, Walt has a similar story, as I met him during my first trip in 2002.
Walt would be at the basketball games we played, and at the English Corners. During the English corners, he was quick to offer his translating skills, not only for the Americans, but also for the Chinese. This was impressive, because Walt’s major was Physics! Two of his best friends were English majors, and they could all speak English very well, which was very helpful for those of us that didn’t speak one work of Chinese.
Walt impressed me right away with his intelligence and initiative. The Physics department was about two blocks from the main campus, but Walt took it upon himself to start English Corners on the Physics campus, and arrange for guest speakers to come and speak to the students in English. To enhance his vocabulary, one summer break he memorized 150 English words a day!
Additionally, Walt had a great sense of humor, and he was very comfortable laughing at himself. That was very interesting to me, because in the Chinese culture saving face is very important. I am sure Walt had a traditional upbringing, because his father was in the army before he worked for the telecommunications company.
Perhaps his father involvement with technology is where Walt gained his interests and skills. Walt received scholarships and went to grad school in Shanghai. Did I mention that I think he is a genius! Initially he was studying black holes, but he decided everyone knew and understood black holes, so then he started studying what is physiologically happening when you see the squiggly lines coming up from a hot paved surface. Walt received his PhD. degree, and now he is doing post doctorate studies outside of China. Now he is called an Astro Physicists, and he is extremely passionate about studying outer space.
Walt is a teacher now, and he was a teacher for me. I learned so much language, culture, and history from him!
Recently, I got to see Walt in Shanghai! He took a group of my friends and me on a tour of some of the scientific universities of Shanghai, and to see the Bund area. I had been to the Bund before, but never at night or on a boat on the HuangPu River. This truly was an amazing tour for those of us from the States.
Walt is married and has a family. This summer he and his family will hopefully be able to come for a visit! I think China’s future is very bright, thanks to wonderful people like Walt!