Holland Sentinel – A Global Journey Back to Pure Michigan

It is always a privilege to be published in some great publications back in Michigan. This week, the Holland Sentinel published my article about my reflections on my trip back to Michigan last week.

I have always believed that this crazy journey to China would lead me back to Michigan someday…and do not believe that I’m alone.

You can read the full text of the article in the Holland Sentinel by clicking here, or read below:

A Global Journey Back to Pure Michigan

Last week, my family and I gathered in beautiful South Haven to celebrate the 60th wedding anniversary of my grandparents, Neil and Phyllis Redford. It truly was a once in a lifetime occasion. As families get older, and kids grow up and move away, these special moments become more profound and important.


Soon after graduating from Michigan State University, I moved to Beijing, China. I often proudly remark to my colleagues here that I am from the most beautiful state in America. During my time in South Haven, I was reminded by just how true that really is. The life of a 25 year old doing international business in one of the world’s most dynamic cities is certainly exciting, but there is no comparison to the comfort and joy I felt walking the streets of South Haven and swimming in the pure waters of Lake Michigan. After living two years in disgusting, polluted Beijing, it was overwhelmingly refreshing to daily breath in the fresh air.


Even more inspiring than the climate were the people. The beaches were lined with parents and kids taking in the sunshine, making sand castles and doing all the “good stuff” that young families do. In town, the streets were filled with dad’s carrying their daughters on their backs, and little boys trying to eat ice cream cones bigger than their heads.


These are the moments and the memories I carry with me back to China. Pure Michigan is a dream that I am working towards; a dream to live out my life raising a family in a beautiful place with fantastic people, just like my grandparents.


Since leaving Michigan, I’ve come to understand that this dream is indeed a monumental challenge, not just for me, but also for the state of Michigan. There is a lot of darkness behind all of the sunshine I’ve just described. With many high profile problems, such as the recent Detroit bankruptcy, we know that despite all of the beauty, many people across our state are hurting.


In the midst of all of this, young people like me are leaving the state in droves. In March, one of the hot discussion topics of Governor Snyder’s Economic Summit was how to reverse the brain drain of many Michigan college grads that ship out to places like Chicago and New York every year.


Amy Cell, who serves as Vice President of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation for Talent Enhancement, has been doing a great job building programs to aid young people to build their careers within the state of Michigan. These efforts will ultimately be successful, and may be even more effective than the numbers suggest. Michigan is an attractive place for many young people – just maybe not right now. We live in a globally interconnected economy. Many of us are just on a journey to figure out what is out there. During this journey, we are building global networks and accessing global resources that eventually we will bring right back to where we were headed all along – Pure Michigan. All we need is a few years to spread our wings.


I could not have asked for a more vivid example of how this works than one evening I had at a restaurant in Sawgutuck. As three generations of my family gathered for dinner with grandma and grandpa, I noticed that sitting behind us was a table with some Chinese guests. I went over to talk with them, and it turned out that they were from Guangzhou and were meeting with their Holland-based partner, AlSentis, to discuss a business deal. We exchanged cards and I plan on meeting them the next time I go to Guangzhou.


I believe that Michigan’s best days are still ahead. With beautiful, friendly cities like South Haven and Sawgutuck, it will continue to be a place that offers a quality life that young Michiganders gravitate to and will eventually return to after our exploring. This is the formula for a purer, more global Michigan.


Commentary on Ashton Kutcher’s Teen Choice Award Speech

Most of you reading this post have no doubt seen your Facebook newsfeed filled with posts and reposts on Ashton Kutcher’s motivating Teen Choice Awards speech.

This is definitely a great message no matter what age you are or where you are at in life.
I also think that along with the motivation that comes with the content of what Kutcher says in his speech, there is something else that is revealed as part of his talk. Do you notice how the crowd reacts when Kutcher brings up the word “sexy?” It roars. I am guessing that a majority of the audience at the Teen Choice awards are teenagers, and judging by the sound of the crowds roars alot of those cheering loudest were young, impressionable girls.

Our society does have a problem. We elevate sex in our pop culture and media, which sifts through onto the web and into the minds of our kids. They gravitate to it, and things don’t change when they get older, in fact it usually gets worse. We know its wrong because when someone like Ashton Kutcher (or I guess, Chris) says something like this, we all realize he is right; thus, we can conclude that the way things are going on the mainstream level, the messages we are leaving our kids on how to live their lives, are on the whole not correct.

Thanks Ashton for making this speech, and I hope we can all take to heart what he said. I hope that our society can reverse the trend of “sex sells” in favor of a “its sexy to be smart” mentality. The first line of defense is of course what happens in homes across America, but things need to change in terms of what our leaders in government, business, and entertainment decide to do about this problem. The problem should be acknowledged and acted upon.

And I suppose for us as individuals, including myself, one must ask – what am I doing in my own life that is contributing to what is happening in our society? How can I be better?

Taking on Sinophobia Through Education – USA China Daily

I was privileged to have been introduced to the potential for U.S. – China relations while a student at Michigan State University. However, I’m well aware that across the United States, many remain skeptical and frankly, uneducated about what is going on in China.

Michael Barris of the USA China Daily wrote a great piece about this issue, quoting me alongside my long time friend and colleague, Tom Watkins. You can read the original here or see the text below:


In the midst of the chatter over China’s trade data report Thursday, there it was: Sinophobia.

“For better or worse, China has become the new linchpin of the global economy,” Investing Daily.com analyst Benjamin Shepherd wrote. Summing up the trade numbers, he said: “The old saw used to be that as goes the US, so goes the rest of the world. With China poised to become the world’s largest economy sometime in the next decade, that US-centric preconception will have to be revised.”

Shepherd’s characterization of China’s economic power as a “better or worse” proposition brings to mind Stephen Schwarzman’s comments to a New Yorker magazine reporter this spring, when the chairman and CEO of the private-equity firm Blackstone Group discussed the “hard-core, real anger” that exists toward China in the United States – sentiments that sparked his decision to launch a $300 million college scholarship for study, not here, but in China. Schwarzman, the New Yorker reported, was “hoping that familiarity with the world’s rising superpower” would “blunt growing American anxiety about changes in status.”

Schwarzman, the magazine said, first started thinking about offering the scholarship fund in 2010 when the juxtaposition of the US’ economic calamity and China’s then 9 percent annual growth rate stirred “negative attitudes” in the West toward China. “I was convinced that would create frustration in the West, and frustration would lead to anger,” Schwarzman was quoted as saying, “and that anger can lead to trade problems, and ultimately to military confrontation.”

At a certain point, he said, “it seemed logical” that “really bad things” would begin to occur. “We had to find a way to stop or ameliorate that situation.”

By establishing the scholarship fund, Schwarzman said he aimed to produce individuals who would understand China.

An effort is underway to teach the US about China. In 2006, a survey by the Modern Language Association – the organization for scholars of language and literature – showed that some 51,600 students at roughly 2,800 US institutions of higher learning were studying Mandarin – a 51 percent jump in comparison with a similar study four years earlier. The enrolment jump, MLA said, was mainly due to China’s increasing prominence on the world economic stage. For the record: Chinese is the most spoken language in the world, and more people speak English in China than speak it in the US.

But deeper obstacles can get in the way of attempts to change deep-seated attitudes about China. That’s the view of Tom Watkins, the former Michigan state schools superintendent and frequent China visitor, who has advocated stronger US-China ties for three decades.

“The biggest challenge is convincing people that the world has changed in profound and fundamental ways,” Watkins said in an interview. “We are living in a fast-paced, disruptive, transformational, technologically-driven, global, knowledge economy where ideas and jobs can and do move around the world instantaneously.”

In the years to come, Watkins said, “China, its history, culture and language will be front and center in all world decisions. The individual, city, region, state and nation that adapts to this new reality will prosper as the 21st century unfolds – others will fade from the scene.”

Another view of the issue comes from Dan Redford, the Beijing-based director of China operations for Wisconsin fund management company FirstPathway Partners. Redford said the biggest challenge in teaching Americans about China is “distance, both cultural and physical.”

“Because China is so far away, it is difficult to deliver that experience to most Americans,” he said. “So, our country will have to rely on individuals who have gone out of their way to get that experience to provide expertise and guidance on China.” He said there are “relatively few true China experts who understand China’s rise and how it has grown as a nation.”

Redford recalls being in a meeting with a local official in Michigan who claimed “he’d rather go to India on a trade mission than China because he preferred to deal with democracies, not communists”.

“That is so narrow minded and inaccurate,” he said. “I think that our education system has failed to produce effective leaders in government that can change the rhetoric and the narrative on the conversation with China.”

Unlike the analyst who saw China’s rise as a “for-better-or-worse” proposition, Redford believes the US will help its own cause by educating citizens about the changing of the guard that is well underway.

“It is widely accepted that China will have a bigger economy than the United States within the next 20 years…and perhaps sooner,” Redford remarked. “Enough said.”

Contact the writer at michaelbarris@chinadailyusa.com



Reflecting on Beijing’s Air from #PureMichigan

On Friday, New York Times China correspondent Edward Wong wrote a telling, and frankly chilling, piece about the harsh realities of living in the filth of Beijing’s air pollution.

He is right on. Beijing’s air pollution is one of the most devastating consequences of China’s growth. It is a disgusting, dirty specter that follows you around everywhere you go.Honestly, I never thought in my lifetime I’d have to worry about these things. I moved to Beijing in July 2011, and did not think too much about the pollution until one January morning this year when I looked out my window to find that it looked like I was living in Mordor. I later found out that the air was measured at almost 4 times over what is considered “hazardous.”

After January’s “Airpocalypse,” I consulted a physician that keeps a health blog in Beijing, Myhealthbeijing.com, and here is what he had to say:

Screen shot 2013-08-06 at 10.46.11 PM

As a young American, then, it seems to make sense that the health risks that I face living in the filth of Beijing’s air is not nearly as numerous as for young kids or babies and older people. For me, though, the effects are still deep. As Wong alludes to in his op ed, it really comes down to how the air really enslaves one’s mind as much as one’s body. If I develop lung cancer sometime down the road, will I be able to attribute it directly to the years I spent in Beijing? Probably not. More than just the physical health risks posed by the air pollution is the damage to my overall quality of life and the general way I think and feel every day living in filth and ugliness.

I love the beauty of God’s creation. And I hate that most days, the smog hides all of that. Even though I know that it really doesn’t make much of a difference, I still will put on my “bane-mask” air filtration device to even feel comfortable riding my bike outside. That is not freedom. The air has allowed a little devil to crawl into my head, reminding me everyday of the cloud of carcinogens that is all around me.

bane mask

They say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. For me, Beijing’s air pollution just grows my appreciation for the home that I love the most, Pure Michigan.

I returned to Michigan last week to spend some time with my family as my grandparents celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary. Sitting here, looking out over the waters of Lake Michigan in South Haven, I’m reminded of the juxtaposition between my two homes that now defines my life. I can’t count how many times over the past few days that  I’ve consciously thought to myself  “wow, this air is so clean!” or “these flowers smell SOO great!”

Still, for now its merely temporary. Soon, I’ll head back to my home in Beijing where I struggle with the daily decision to either ignore the reality of the black air that surrounds me, or take active steps to manage my life in the interest of my long term health.

At least I know that when I finally decide my journey in China is over, I’ll walk down the road that I’ve been on all the while. The road that leads to God’s country, a place where the beaches are clean and the air is fresh.

The road back to #puremichigan.

The Six-Step Approach For China to Help Rebuild Detroit

Detroit’s announcement of chapter 9 bankruptcy was a difficult but essential step for the city’s resurgence. Now, more than ever, what Detroit needs is belief. Detroiters have to believe that the city will come back; and if new people are going to be attracted to become residents, they’ll have to believe that Detroit is safe, exciting, and profitable.

This type of belief only comes from raising and executing bold ideas. Here’s one: invite China to be a key partner in the revitalization of Detroit. What better statement could be made than to have a city like Detroit, for years mired by resentment of a China that is “stealing our jobs,” finally grow up to strategically engage the world’s second largest economy?

The Washington Post recently published an article outlining six crazy ideas for rebuilding Detroit, so I thought I’d add a twist to that. Below, I propose a six-pronged approach to building the “China Engagement Strategy to Help Rebuild Detroit.” It is a long-term vision, which needs to start with getting people face-to-face, building trust, and ultimately result in real investment and jobs coming into Detroit from this unlikely partner.

1. Pure Michigan in Chinese

Unsurprisingly, Chinese people largely associate the city with the blight, unemployment, and violence that they see on TV. The only way to bring in investment is to get actual people into the city. Investing in a “Pure Michigan in Chinese campaign” will allow Michigan and Detroit to cash in on the growing number of Chinese tourists using their expendable cash to tour America and hopefully change their perception through a direct exchange.

2. Build a strong Sister City Relationship between Detroit and Chongqing

People-to-people exchange needs to increase to build trust. A great platform for this would be bolstering the Sister City relationship between Detroit and Chongqing, which happens to be one of the world’s fastest growing cities

Governor Snyder seems to be ahead of the game on this one as he is planning a stop in Chongqing on his upcoming trade mission. May I suggest he kindly ask Chongqing to write a check to fund a vibrant sister cities program with Detroit?

3. Engage Chinese students in Michigan

Between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University alone there are currently over 5,700 Chinese students going to school in Michigan. While they are pumping in millions of dollars in revenue to the state every year through tuition and fees, that just tips the iceberg. Most of these students would be dying to get job experience during their time in Michigan, even if that required living in Detroit for the summer. These students have the power to change the narrative.

4. Get the EB5 program working in Detroit

Developers around the country have been using the EB5 immigration investment program since 1992 to fund job-creating businesses. Though there are six approved regional centers in Michigan, all with jurisdiction in Detroit, so far, there has not been a successful EB5 case in Detroit, or even in the state of Michigan for that matter. In 2012, over 80% of the visas issued to foreigners thru this program came from China.

5. Detroit Real Estate purchases

Recently, the United States National Association of Realtors noted that Detroit cracked the top 5 most asked about real estate markets from Chinese buyers. Why not use the attention the city is getting now to promote the great properties that already exist? The bankruptcy could indicate to some that now would be the time to buy when prices are at rock bottom in anticipation of a climb.

6. Court China to buy Detroit ‘s assets and invest in companies

China’s government is in a position to make outward investment. They have the world’s largest stockpile of foreign currency reserves, now standing at over $3.44 trillion. China is in the midst of deciding whether or not maintaining such a high number of reserves is literally getting the most bang for its buck, and is making a pivot to make overseas purchases and investments.

What might Detroit have that would be interesting to the Chinese? Of course, as an industrial and manufacturing hub, Detroit has access to infrastructure and technology patents that have continued to grow the presence of Chinese automakers in Detroit. Huge parcels of land are also available at rock bottom prices that are ripe for business development.

If we really believe that Detroit can rise up from rock bottom, it is going to take a few bold ideas like these to make this city tick again. Consider me a believer!

What is China saying about the Detroit bankruptcy?

Obviously, some of the biggest news to come out recently in Michigan, and quite frankly, the nation’s, history, was that of the Detroit bankruptcy. Since I live in China, I took the liberty of compiling a few headlines from major Chinese newspapers and e-zines to give you a glimpse into what Chinese media is saying about the bankruptcy. Indeed, Detroit has a long way to go to change the perception as a crime-ridden, impoverished place. Here’s to looking up!!


1. “底特律破产带给中国的启示:城市不是造出来的”  (Detroit’s bankruptcy has revealed to China one thing: The city cannot be built)

Source: Sohu Business

2.” 底特律破产警示城镇化弯路 “(Detroit bankruptcy warns the winding course of urbanization)

Source: Guangzhou Focus

3. “七嘴八舌话底特律破产” (A Lively Discussion in the Auto Industry about Detroit Bankruptcy)

Source: Auto.sina.com.cn

4. 底特律申请破产 “造中国底特律”论遭质疑 (Detroit’s Bankruptcy Raises Doubts about building a “Chinese Detroit” Partnership)

Source: Anyang Online (originally from Xinhua)

5. 底特律破产风险有多大 (Detroit’s Bankruptcy: How Big are the Risks?)

Source: QQ.com Auto

Reflections on “10 Things Most Americans Don’t Know About America.”

As an American living in Beijing, I’d like to weigh in on a piece read this evening. In his post today, blogger Mark Manson chronicles the “10 Things Most Americans Don’t Know About America.”  Overall, it is an entertaining and well written piece that begs one to ask the questions “Is America really the greatest place in the world anymore,” and “Does it even matter?”

I agree with some things in his piece, such as #3 “We Know Nothing About the Rest of the World.” It is no secret that many Americans are detached, quite ironically I feel, from the rest of the world. There is an old saying that “If you speak 3 languages, you’re tri-lingual, if you speak two languages you’re bilingual, and if you speak one language you’re a (ready for it???) an American.” In fact, I was just remarking this evening with a group of American students here Beijing traveling as part of an exchange program (more on that in a minute..) that only about 40% of Americans have passports and even less travel abroad to “overseas lands.” I’m glad to have been mostly confirmed on those off the cuff statistics here.

However, despite all the ways in which I think I’m nodding my head at Mark’s points, I’m still thumbs down on the article. Why? I just can’t get over the apathy. He’s given up, saying that he returns to America “only a few times a year” and that he thinks his points will “go on deaf ears.” If those of us that have these global experiences won’t stick up for America, then who will?

I have seen mostly the opposite when engaging with Americans abroad since starting my global journey in 2008. I believe that while the jury may still be out on whether or not America is the greatest country on earth, we can still take it back! Coming from the state of Michigan, I have learned about some of the hardest realities of the current state of America. People are poor, blight runs rampant, and the talented people with job creating capacity are leaving.

But, what if they came back? What if, as my friend Tom Watkins said in his Lansing State Journal Column last year, young people actually boomeranged back, bringing with them in one foul swoop an arsenal of global knowledge and resources.

It can happen. It is happening. I saw it this evening here in Beijing with a group of young American students from inner city schools taking part in a great program called the Jump! Foundation. Jump! is part of a series of programs overseen by Americans Promoting Study Abroad, which collaborates with U.S. high schools to offer scholarships to inner city kids to come learn Chinese in China.

Tonight I participated in my 2nd Young Professionals Panel with the students. These are young but impressive kids. Their questions are inquisitive, and when you talk with them, they sound wise beyond their years. Contrary to the apathetic and ignorant version of Americans elicited in Manson’s column, these kids are well aware of the lack of global knowledge and attention that runs rampant in their communities. After being in China, most of these students described to us how motivated they were to go back home and serve as educators to their friends and family.

And that’s it right there – the American spark of being pioneers to return home and report what we’ve seen. It is that spark that is being ignited across a nation of young globally minded people that have not yet come of age. When they do, it will be amazing to see what we can accomplish as a country. I believe that as generations that have come before, our generation will rise to the occasion to build our nation back up again. It will be people like those young folks I met tonight that will lead the charge.




Detroit Attracts Chinese Real Estate Buyers – Detroit News Op Ed

The U.S. National Realtors Association recently announced as part of its report that Detroit ranked in the top 5 in terms of inquiries from Chinese buyers interested in U.S. real estate.

This is an awesome revelation and opportunity for Detroit! I co-wrote a piece on the topic with my colleague, Lamar Irby and Bryan Withall, and the Detroit News picked it up! You can read the op ed by clicking here or read the original below:

Detroit breaks the top 5 for inquiries from Chinese Buyers of U.S. Real Estate

By Dan Redford, Bryan Withall, and Lamar Irby

The time may be right for Detroit to roll out the red carpet for Chinese real estate buyers. In the recently published, “2013 Profile of International Home Buying Activity” by the U.S. National Association of Realtors (NAR), Detroit ranked in the top 5 among hottest cities receiving inquiries from Chinese buyers looking to purchase real estate in the U.S. It certainly stood out as the most unlikely in the group, considering the other cities – Los Angeles, Irvine, Las Vegas, and Orlando – have long been established as strongholds for attracting Chinese investors.


How could this be? This recent announcement may not come as a surprise to those that were following Chinese CCTV and social media on the Detroit Real Estate market earlier this year. In March, the China Daily reported that some real estate properties were available in Detroit for $100. On China’s Twitter, Weibo, the term “Detroit Real Estate” was also trending along with “pixie” (English: “leather shoes”), using leather shoes as a metaphor for how cheap Detroit real estate is. The CCTV report alone garnered 1.2 million posts on Weibo, according to “Want China Times.”


The “leather shoes” phenomenon quickly died down in the media, but not before at least some Chinese buyers made purchases. And what is now made clear from the NAR report is that Chinese buyers for the moment have their eyes on Detroit. With increasingly strict purchase restrictions and higher taxes for Chinese citizens in their domestic market, the increasing trend is for Chinese to invest their growing assets abroad.

So, how can Detroit take advantage of this opportunity? While it is unlikely for the cheap $500 home buys to be a boon for the city of Detroit, the last thing Detroit needs is to lure Chinese investors into quick, cheap deals that end up being “less juice than squeeze,” if not financial disasters. Clearly, Detroit has a compelling real estate market and economic story of rebirth to tell. A strategy that highlights good deals in good communities in Metro Detroit could build a pipeline for long term Chinese real estate investment and more.


Success will come down to how well real estate brokers and officials can tell the story of Detroit and ultimately execute purchases. It’s not that Detroit is without merit. For starters, Detroit’s real estate market prices climbed 13.6% year on year from 2011 to 2012. With prices for homes in Detroit well within the median Chinese purchase price of $425,000, this evidence should be taken as an encouraging sign of vibrancy in the Detroit market.


The Chinese should also be invited to be part of the revitalization of Detroit. In the June 7, 2013, Financial Times Life Section cover story, “The Future of the American City,” Detroit was profiled as a “city in the midst of a mini-boom.” The article cited several large investments and businesses recently moving in to the city, such as the high-profile purchases of Quicken Loans CEO Dan Gilbert, as evidence to show that Detroit is indeed gradually rising. Real estate brokers in Detroit should consider translating this article into Chinese and spreading it to the Chinese market.

This can happen. Detroit can build again, and now is the time to welcome the help of our Chinese friends whose interest is already peaked.

Dan Redford graduated from Michigan State University and is the Director of China Operations for FirstPathway Partners, an industry leading EB5 immigration investment fund management company. You can follow him at danredford.com


Bryan Withall is the Managing Director and CEO of Sino Outbound Limited, a financial advisory firm serving Chinese investors, including both institutions and individuals, interested in overseas real estate assets and real estate related investments. For inquiries: bryan@sino-outbound.com


Lamar Irby is a Detroit native and serves as the Director of Finance for China ProSol Consulting Services Co., Limited (www.prosolchina.com). He is based in Beijing.


Vice Premier Wang Yang delights the crowd at the U.S. – China Strategic Economic Dialogue

Over the years, the reputation of Chinese officials for being droll, dull, and boring in the public sphere has grown to almost legendary proportions. China’s last President, Hu Jintao, was famous for constantly boasting a somber, expressionless face no matter what occasion, a trend that new President Xi Jinping is hoped to reverse. (And sometimes, when the Chinese get animated it goes badly…as President Jiang Zemin experienced in his interview with the Hong Kong press in 1994: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cmjaptnr6k).

So when Vice Premier Wang Yang addressed the crowd at the U.S. – China Strategic Economic Dialogue yesterday carrying an outgoing personality and speaking in well-executed sarcasm, it came as a refreshing surprise. As cited in this Reuters article, the Vice Premier said that the U.S. and China relationship is like a marriage, though joking that it should not be confused as a “gay marriage,” making light of the current U.S. political discussion on the topic. He even went on to snide about how we should not be confusing the divorce of Rupert Murdoch and his Chinese wife with having any effect on the relationship of the two countries.

Wang’s delightful personality and sense of humor adds flavor to the U.S. – China relationship, and could serve as an intangible element to progress relations that has largely been missing over the past 4 decades. Humor and whit have become staples in American politics and the Vice Premier’s commentary and attitude have already been welcomed by the U.S. diplomats at the conference.

His comments are not just catching the attention of the U.S. side. The video posted of his talk on China’s 163.com elicited almost 5000 responses from Chinese citizens, mostly voicing their support of Wang Ying and his efforts to bring America and China closer together. Some even appreciated the humor, saying “汪洋很幽默“-Wang Yang is so funny!

Still, Wang Yang’s perspective and personality are not mainstream polity in China. He is an outspoken member of the reformist end of the Communist Party, and to be sure, his compatriots at the dialogue took a much more serious tone.

At the end of the day, it can’t hurt to have one of these funny guys involved in the high level discussions between the titans to lighten the mood and remind us all that we are all just human beings trying to make the best of this Earth that God has given us.

Big Ten Fourth of July Weekend Bash 2013

One of the most unexpected joys of my time in Beijing actually has its roots in something closer to home than you’d think. While I am always of a mind that Spartans everywhere are changing the world, I am equally inspired by the work I see every day being done by Big Ten Alumni here in Beijing.

Since early in 2012, the Big Ten Alumni Clubs of Beijing has emerged as a dynamic group of individuals that are lighting this city on fire. As I mentioned in a previous post, til now we have hosted the 1st and 2nd annual Big Ten alumni Mixers, both bringing in alumni from around this city.

Big Ten Bash with Spartan alum Charles Eveslage (right) and Purdue Alum Sylvia Liu (middle)
Big Ten Bash with Spartan alum Charles Eveslage (right) and Purdue Alum Sylvia Liu (middle)

This year we tried something different: The Big Ten Fourth of July Weekend Bash in Ritan Park. It is always amazing to me the different kinds of people that you meet that come from so many different backgrounds that show up when hosting these types of things. We even had one MSU alum that took a flight in from the city of Changchun, which is is somewhat like going from Georgia to Michigan, just to be at our party! #Spartanswill

We also had an endorsement from the Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, Dr. Robert Wang, for the event. Dr. Wang received his PhD from Iowa so is a fellow Big Tenner! Check out the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEn_WXz8RN4

It was a great success, with over 200 alumni from around Beijing coming out to celebrate this great occasion, including members of most of the Big Ten schools. And to be honest, I was impressed especially by the turnout from the University of Wisconsin…looks like there is another dynamic club in the making.

We’ve made some great progress for the Big Ten Conference here in China and the MSU Beijing Alumni Club looks forward to collaborating on future events and initiatives.