From November 15th to 22nd I traveled to Hong Kong to visit with SU alumni, along with Jim Hembree from SU's University Advancement office. We were able to connect with alums who graduated in the early 1960's and as recent as 2012! CJ Tan and Peter Lee graduated from SU in 1963 and 1964 respectively, and both are long time supporters of SU. CJ told the story of how he arrived in Tacoma in a freighter with $100 in his pocket to attend SU, and with the help of many Jesuits and faculty was an accomplished student who went on to earn his PhD at Columbia. Peter went on to earn his PhD in chemistry at Michigan State and then worked for Coca Cola for many years and led the introduction of Coke to the Chinese market.
On November 18th and 19th Jim and I traveled to Guangzhou, China to visit with the family of current student, John Su, who is a student in our Master of Professional Accounting Program. John's father, Zhigang Su, is the founder of the Chimelong Group, which operates a series of theme parks, including a safari park, zoo, amusement park, water park, circus, and crocodile park in Guangzhou, and the world's largest aquarium near Macau. This complex of parks is truly amazing and I think November 18th was one of the most interesting days of my life! Consider the following:
- Took the train from HK to Guangzhou -- first time to Guangzhou
- Toured safari park -- it features white tigers, snow tigers and LOTS of other animals
- Got to see the world's first surviving panda bear triplets, which were born just a few weeks ago, including a behind the scenes tour
- Got to feed a baby tiger and pet a panda bear
- Went on scary rides at the amusement park (in suit and tie)
- Went to the circus (for the first time in a long time!)
- Had dinner with the Su family
If you are ever in Guangzhou, you need to visit these parks, and based on how things are done in Guangzhou, I am sure the aquarium is worth a visit on your next trip to Macau!
On November 21st we had lunch with Derek Yu (Albers, 2003) and Jai Li, CEO of the Handpicked Group. Jay and Albers alum Kevin Dong (2004) founded the Handpicked Group in 2004 with a mission to import Australian wines to China. Today the company owns four vineyards in Australia, imports wines from Italy, Spain, France, Chile, and Argentina, and has diversified into financial services. It has also established a company foundation, the Love Foundation, whose mission is to provide needed heart surgeries to low income children in China. In fact, Kevin was not available for the lunch because he was out of town on Love Foundation business! Handpicked Group is strongly committed to the triple bottom line, and it is great to see alumni setting a good example for others and living the mission of the Albers School.
Other alumni that we met with included Drago Chan (Albers, 1995), Patrick White (Albers, 1986), and Derek Ho (Albers, 2005). Altogether, we met with 15 SU alumni and 10 others during our trip. The purpose of the trip was to connect with our alumni in Hong Kong and China as part of the university's initiative to strengthen the global experience of our students. Measured against that goal, this was certainly a successful trip! And Jim did all the organizing, so I just went along for the ride. Thanks, Jim! :}