Stop #10: Shanghai and Beijing

Ni hao! The Dins have had a wonderful time visiting Shanghai and Beijing on our tenth stop of World Tour!

One of the many majestic views on offer to tourists in Beijing's Forbidden City

One of the many majestic views on offer to tourists in Beijing's Forbidden City

We arrived in Shanghai in the early afternoon on July 9th, and checked into the Grand Park Jiayou Hotel in the district of Pudong.  We immediately got to work, traveling downtown to a gig at the Jinhua Seafood Restaurant, organized by Din alum Wayne Fu (#129).  After being given an introductory presentation on economics and politics in China, we sang a few short sets at a dinner for students celebrating the end of an internship program in Shanghai.  That night, we went out to a jazz club with Wayne Fu, as well as Din alum Tom Seery (#45), continuing to enjoy the stunning city and the music it has to offer.

Our very cloudy view of Shanghai's skyline from the Bund on our last night in Shanghai

Our very cloudy view of Shanghai's skyline from the Bund on our last night in Shanghai

The next day, we performed a lunch gig organized by Wayne Fu, and were treated to a wonderful meal that included traditional Chinese dishes with very slight touches of Western influence.  In the evening, we performed in the beautiful Shanghai Oriental Arts Center in a public show with a choir from the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS).  Our contact from the choir, Greg Wu, put together a wonderful joint concert arrangement, and we were delighted to be received warmly in such a large venue.  Five Dins in our ensemble were also able to exercise their skills in Mandarin, introducing the group and our repertoire to the delight of the audience.

Performing on the stage of the Shanghai Oriental Arts Center, one of our nicest venues so far

Performing on the stage of the Shanghai Oriental Arts Center, one of our nicest venues so far

The following afternoon, we would have the pleasure of sharing the stage again with the CEIBS choir at an auditorium in their beautiful campus.  The choir would gift us with very nice long t-shirts with the CEIBS mark and logo that the Dins appreciated very dearly.  The shirts made for a strong visual presence in place of our tails during the second half of the show.

Striking our best boy-band poses in shirts generously given to us by the CEIBS Maple Choir

Striking our best boy-band poses in shirts generously given to us by the CEIBS Maple Choir

Closing the concert with a joint rendition of Seasons of Love from the musical Rent was certainly a highlight!  From there, we unfortunately had to bring our stop in Shanghai to a end, heading to the airport shortly after the concert.

Final images from our joint choir concert held at CEIBS – a real treat for us

Final images from our joint choir concert held at CEIBS – a real treat for us

After waiting through a flight delay, we were met with technical issues that involved landing back in Shanghai after taking off!  Despite these challenges, we were able to arrive in Beijing late into the night, and check into the Beijing Friendship Hotel, still excited for what the next day would bring.

In the morning, we were able to talk one-on-one with students from the Beijing area about the Harvard experience, and the things we believe are keys to a strong college application.  Our activities were managed by an organization called Pu-Xin Education, which works for the academic advancement of students in Beijing.  We were questioned extensively in the afternoon by the staff on the wisdom that we've gathered from our schooling, which gave us the opportunity to reflect on our education, and give our best advice for the very curious students.  Our afternoon interviews were streamed live online, amassing an audience of about 30,000!   We gave an hour-long performance at the Affiliated High School of Peking University, which was also streamed for thousands of viewers, and enjoyed reaching so many people.  The decorations set up for the event were also top-notch and quite life-like.

Re-creating the pic that Pu-Xin education used for our event (we miss you, Aaron and Adam!)

Re-creating the pic that Pu-Xin education used for our event (we miss you, Aaron and Adam!)

At night, we taken out for a fun dinner by Din alum Dillon Powers (#195) who has lived in Beijing for the past few years.  We cooked our own vegetables and meats in hot pots, and explored the exciting variety of sauces and spices at our disposal.  Din stories through the generations were exchanged and, of course, hilarity ensued.

Eating at a wonderful Sichuan-style hot pot restaurant with Dillon in Beijing

Eating at a wonderful Sichuan-style hot pot restaurant with Dillon in Beijing

On July 13th we were able to take a whole day to sight-see! Pu-Xin Education afforded us the opportunity of touring the Forbidden City.  For many of us, including some of the staff leading us on this trip, this visit was a first, and certainly an exciting one!  The Imperial Palace was a stunning reminder of the deep history of Beijing, which we were able learn about from the guides in the Pu-Xin education staff. All too soon, we left in the evening for our flight out of Beijing.

Last but not least, an obligatory Tiananmen Square selfie

Last but not least, an obligatory Tiananmen Square selfie

We extend our sincerest thanks to our main contacts in Shanghai, Wayne Fu and Greg Wu, as well as to Pu-Xin Education for their wonderful work in Beijing.  Stay tuned for our next update on our stop in Hong Kong!

Signing off,
#234 Sydney Mukasa