"and the Magical Mystical Tour continues.."...

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January 18, 2008...in a colder Changchun City...

So, today, I was expecting my documents from the Vladivostok, Russia, Basketball Federation via DHL...only to be left out in the "cold" so to speak, as it was revealed to me that they will may not arrive until Monday or Tuesday, meaning I will postpone my trip to Beijing until Thursday, after I go by train to Shenyang, a 3 hour trip to the Russian Consulate's office for the "stamp" of approval...arrrrgh...It's not that I want to leave, rather I had already planned on my departure date on the 23rd of January...Imagine this: an "overnight" letter from Russia to China takes 5-7 days to get to my city, Changchun...I did NOT expect this delay, after waiting so patiently for the last two weeks to receive this document...now, a delay, but there MUST be a positive that comes from this setback, so to speak...And there was!

Tonight, I had dinner with the CEO of Beidawei (By the Way) English Teaching School here in Changchun...I was introduced to this gentleman, Mr. Luis Ling, through an English teacher, who I asked "if" they have a foreign exchange program in place...which they do not at this time...So, ol tommy boy got his thoughts together, focusing on the positive and forgetting the "woe is me" for a moment, and put together a proposal whereby students who attend this prestigious school for ESL, and the next thing I know, my "idea" was born into reality...I proposed to this gentleman, the prospects of having his English speaking students (high school age) come to Seattle this summer and visit our Seattle Asian community and experience firsthand the culture of Asian-Americans living in the United States...Little did I realize that Mr. Ling would be enthralled with the concept and idea to have his students and chaperones participate in such a tremendous learning environment...I had proposed that students would visit the UW, Seattle University, Seattle Pacific and Northwest University, Kirkland, and see firsthand what a US campus life environment would be like...These students are the "creme de la" crop of the school, and are so intelligent and well spoken in our language, that they would surely qualify for ANY and ALL universities, BUT, would NOT know how to prepare (SATs) for applications and enrollment without having the firsthand exposure to the campuses of varied numbers of students...I am so excited that this idea was so well received by Mr. Ling and the English teacher...Next order of business will be contacting the people I know at the respective universities and asking them for a "day" of exchange for these student visitors and embracing their desire to apply to a large University, Medium-size, and small sized University, shucks I might even "throw" in BCC, with the large number of Asian students attending there, it would be a great complement to the aforementioned institutions...Anyway, I'm on "it", and proceeding forward with establishing initial contacts in the Seattle Asian community and listening to their ideas and thoughts on "receiving" these gifted students...We're talking about 16-20 students, together with parent chaperones and two administrators...Stay tooned on this one, as I am excited as all get out to facilitate such an exchange program of such magnitude...Listen closely: the MORE we exchange our culture to China, the more we will learn from them and they from us...without "preaching" anything...Children have wonderful minds when it comes to "seeing and believing" new elements of learning, vis a vis, an American university of higher learning...Oh I am so excited to be a part of this in a small way, trust me...World Peace only happens through cultural enlightenment and exchange of friendship and kindness...We SET THE EXAMPLE in the world for this measure, and to be a small part of such an epic program...Shucks, I'm stoked beyond words of descriptive delight...Will let you know how it all evolves...I am truly blessed to have this opportunity through basketball to once again "bridge" cultures...Wow...Best to all, and hope everyone is healthy and WARMer than moi...Coach tom

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