Southern Methodist University Screening Recap

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SMU Screening of Autumn Gem

Our final screening of 2010 tour was at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. SMU was chartered and founded in 1911, the same year that Women’s History Month was started and the fall of the Qing Dynasty in China. Today, the school is home to 11,000 students, and will be the future site of the former President George W. Bush’s Presidential Library. In fact, the groundbreaking ceremony was held on November 16, 2010, just a few days before our November 22 screening.

We met the Colombo family at our Austin College screening the previous Friday. They had read about our article in a Dallas newspaper and were keen on coming because they are adoptive parents of several children from China. Following the screening, they told their friends in their children’s Chinese Girl Scout troop about the SMU showing. Thanks to the Colombo’s and Kimberly Powell for bringing a great community turnout at SMU!

Along with them, we had a large number of students from various Chinese Language and History classes turn out. Next time, we’ll have to get a bigger room, as it was standing room only in the back! We got a great question from one of the students about the dilemma between Qiu Jin’s fascination with Western ideas and her opposition to Western incursion into China. In order to repel the Western invaders and internally strengthen her country, Qiu Jin felt that China needed to learn from its enemies. Knowing this perhaps gives us perspective on China’s relationship with the West today. After all, it’s only been 100 years since the birth of Modern China, a relatively short-time by historical measure.

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Austin College Screening Recap

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Austin College

Next stop on our Texas tour was Austin College, located in Sherman, a small town about an hour north of Dallas. Driving there from Texas A&M took 4 hours, passing by several other small towns along the way, including Hearne – home of John Randle, Hall of Fame NFL Player, according to the giant billboard greeting us on the side of the road. Football is big in Texas, and even the small towns take great pride in their local heroes!

Austin College is a private liberal arts schools with about 1350 students. We were greeted upon our arrival by Scott Langton, Professor of Japanese, who gave us a tour of the campus. We visited the Jordan Family Language House, a residential hall “specifically designed to encourage the study of foreign languages (Chinese, French, German, Japanese and Spanish).” Students speak entirely in their chosen language and practice with native speaker residents. One of the hallways was labeled La Maison Française, which reminded Adam of his senior year house. As the theme associate for the French House, Adam organized wine and cheese nights and French classes for the residents. Fun times indeed!

Our screening that evening had a good mix of students and community members. Afterwards we had a great conversation with the Colombo family and their four children from China. Apparently the Dallas-Fort Worth area has a sizeable number of families with adopted children from China, and there are various programs and services that cater to them. My sister May adopted their daughter Abby from China 2 years ago, and they participate in similar programs out in Colorado.

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Texas A&M Screening Recap

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Texas A&M Screening

Following our great time at Trinity, we made the three and a half hour trek to Texas A&M, the oldest public university in Texas. The university is located in the city of College Station, which is in the middle of the Dallas, Houston and San Antonio triangle. Confirming the theory that everything is bigger in Texas, the campus sits on an enormous 5000+ acres. I felt like many a lost Stanford parent driving around Campus Drive while trying to find Parking Lot 28. According to our contact Kelly, there’s a lot of construction going on, which explained why some roads were closed for pedestrian traffic only.

We had a little mixup with the screening room, which turned out to be double-booked. Quick thinking on the part of our hosts at the Confucius Institute, Kelly Kleinkort, Executive Director Randy Kluver, Director Luo Yirong, James Mendiola and Amanda Zuccarini, got us a new room in the same building, on the third floor. Most of the students came from a Gender Studies class, and we had a great discussion with Paul, a French exchange student, after the showing.

We wish we could have stayed longer in College Station and explore the many Aggie traditions, but we simply did not have enough time. The next day, we had to drive four hours to Sherman for our screening at Austin College.

Here are photos from our Texas A&M screening.

Trinity University Screening Recap

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Our next stop on our Texas tour was at Trinity University. Since we were staying with Patrick and Nicole in San Antonio, we only had to drive 25 minutes to get to campus instead of three to four hours as we did for our next two screenings to Texas A&M and Austin College. Being able to stay in one place for a couple of days meant we could explore the area more fully.

If I could use one word to describe our Trinity experience, it’s hospitality. The Trinity faculty and staff at the EAST (East Asian Studies at Trinity), especially Professor Zhang, did a fantastic job making us feel welcome during our two days. EAST’s Franke Johnson first took us to the River Walk of downtown San Antonio. We took some photos of the Carlos Cortez sculptures along the River Walk. Back in 2001 during my first trip to San Antonio, I walked along the river in the retail district, but didn’t get to see these sculptures. One day, we’ll walk the entire seven miles! We had lunch at La Gloria, which specializes in street foods of Mexico. We ordered the ceviche, which had cilantro in it, but surprisingly neither Rae nor I could taste it. For two people who don’t like cilantro, that was refreshing!

Carlos Cortes sculptures at the River Walk.

After lunch, we went back to the EAST office where we were videotaped for an upcoming Trinity University iPad application. The app will display a map of the campus; users can tap on a building or use GPS to bring up video clips from their current location. Reuben took videos of us talking with Franke about our film; he also videotaped the beginning portion of our presentation at the screening. We can’t wait to see the app!

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University of Texas at San Antonio Screening Recap

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UTSA screening of Autumn Gem

After a night at my relative’s house in Houston, Rae and I drove three and a half hours to San Antonio, Texas, for our second screening at the University of Texas at San Antonio. I was last in San Antonio back in 2001, during which I also visited Austin, Houston, and San Jacinto.

Had we arrived the day before, the campus would have been a lot busier due to Saturday being UTSA Day. That’s when the public can meet with faculty, students, and experience the Roadrunner lifestyle.

We had a mix of community members and students at the screening. Among them was a Japanese woman from Brazil. She told us that early Japanese immigrants to Brazil were snookered into slavery. Her friends whom she brought to the screening were interested in documentary films; perhaps they should get together to work on that!

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Houston Chinese Community Center Screening Recap

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In September and October of 2010, we embarked on our first international tour, flying to Australia for seven screenings in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. In November, we went to our second country for three screenings in Canada. We then headed to Texas, which some would argue is a whole other country in itself! The adage that everything is bigger in Texas holds true; twelve-lane highways, large swaths of open roads and great expanse of blue sky greeted us when we landed in Houston for the start of our Texas tour.

Our first stop was at the Houston Chinese Community Center. We’ve seen a number of Chinese community centers while on tour, but this one was certainly the largest! Situated on 6 acres of land, the Houston CCC featured a full-sized gym and plenty of classrooms. From the CCC web site, it provides “services and programs for over 7,000 multi-cultural families each year through educational, cultural and social service programs.”

Houston Chinese Community Center

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In Texas

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We arrived yesterday in Houston, Texas, following our screening at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. We had a great screening at SFU and at the Houston Chinese Community Center on Saturday. Now, we are at the University of Texas at San Antonio, where we have a screening at 3:30pm in the Retama Auditorium inside the University Center. We’ll have recaps of the past few screenings within the next few days.