Tuesday, May 29, 2007


We were supposed to go to Shanghai at the end of this week for a conference on “Teaching American Law in Chinese Universities,” but the conference got cancelled at the last minute. It seems the conference couldn’t get the required approval from the Chinese Ministry of Higher Education. I don’t know why, whether it was just not being able to jump through the bureaucratic hoops or whether there was something distressing about the topics or speakers. But I’m sorry not to go. It would have been nice to meet again with the other four law Fulbrighters, and to meet with Chinese professors who are teaching American law in China.

And it also complicated Mimi’s travel plans. She made her return flight originate in Shanghai since that’s where we would be, so we had to scramble today to get her a ticket from Xiamen to Hong Kong instead, and we’re out an extra 960 yuan since her Shanghai-HK ticket can’t be changed. So that ticket is also a loss. And our 3 tickets to Shanghai may also be a loss – our waiban is trying to get us a refund, but no guarantees.

Being out 4,000 yuan on tickets to Shanghai is particularly maddening since the American/Hong Kong organizers told us to go ahead and book the tickets even though they had not yet gotten approval from the Ministry of Higher Education. Grrrrr.

One good thing is that we’ll be here for Children’s Day on June 1, and that’s when Zoe’s class is performing, as are other classes of older kids from the kindergarten, at the University auditorium (no need for clothing made from recyclables, instead we had to pay for a “costume,” which is just a denim skirt and t-shirt and thus “reclyclable” into every-day clothes!).

I guess I’ll just have to chalk up the financial loss to a lesson in Chinese bureaucracy – or perhaps the lesson is that even those with long-time experience with Chinese bureaucracy can underestimate it at times.


Anonymous said...

That's too bad and you sure didn't have much notice about the cancellation. I might be tempted to just go and sightsee if I couldn't get a refund! Sue

malinda said...

We thought about it, but I admit Shanghai is pretty far down on our list of places to visit since I've already been there. And it looks now like we'll get a refund -- at least, our waiban has given us a piece of paper with Chinese writing which he says is an address, and we are to show up there "in three days time" with our passports and we will get a refund. But I'll believe it when I see it!