Greetings from Qingdao, China, a modest-sized city of ten million, where 30-story apartment buildings spring up like dandelions in a lawn, only in clusters of 20 to 30 at a time. A popular joke asks: "What is the most common animal in China?" Answer: Cranes. Hundreds of them sit atop new construction projects across the city.
China remains a developing country -- but not for much longer. Maserati and Land Rover dealerships reflect the rising wealthy elite, as do the upscale malls with designer boutiques that provide shopping that would be the envy of all but a few cities in the United States. Looking for the latest in Korean make-up? Mix Mall has the shop for you. Want a bottle of a rare Bordeaux? Click on WeChat to pay. China is well beyond any place we have visited in going currency free.
We arrived in Qingdao in late April to teach in the College of Law's undergraduate dual-degree program with Ocean University of China (OUC). Karen taught Procedure and Robert taught Public Law to 63 juniors. We were fortunate to have the assistance of 2017 JD graduate Andrew Shepherd. Before embarking on his JD, Andrew learned Mandarin when he taught English for three years in Beijing. His language skills helped immensely as we explored Qingdao and traveled to Beijing and Shanghai.
May 4th Square in Qingdao
Qingdao is a beautiful city located on the Yellow Sea. Seafood is abundant and the food has been wonderful. The city is especially beautiful thanks to landscaping and decorations in preparation for the mid-June meeting of the Shanghai Cooperative Organization, attended by the heads of state from a dozen countries, including Russia, Pakistan, and India. The city planted millions of trees, shrubs, and flowers, knocked down buildings, and rebuilt roads. Zhang Yimou, who created the 2008 Olympics opening ceremony, developed a stunning lightshow for downtown Qingdao. Each evening it integrates every tall building along the sea near May 4th Square in a moving light display. There is even a nod to the city's most famous export, Tsing Tao beer: at one point in the show, all of the buildings appear to be pint glasses being filled from a giant tap in the sky.
May 4th Square is the symbol of Qingdao, which is in Shandong Province. The square was named in memory of the May 4th Movement, an anti-imperialist, cultural, and political movement growing out of student demonstrations in Beijing on May 4, 1919, protesting the Chinese Government's weak response to the Treaty of Versailles, especially the Shandong Problem. The peace treaty ending World War I transferred control over Shandong Province, which had been occupied by Imperial Germany, to Japan.
People have been warm and welcoming. There aren't many westerners so we provoke curiosity. People are quite surprised by Karen's long white hair. Our Chinese is limited to a few phrases but people try and help us navigate our way around. The custom is to yield subway seats to those in need, which happened to Robert. When a Chinese man stood to give Robert his seat, Robert took no offense at being mistaken for being an old, white American, and simply nodded and sat down. Robert intends to work on exploiting this age thing.
Our students were bright, curious and generally hardworking and conscientious. The UA/OUC students experience teaching and learning methods that are completely different from the Chinese university system. Though neither of us utilized the standard Socratic method of engaging students in discussion, there were opportunities for students to participate in class. In Procedure, Karen paired up students for a mock trial exercise in which half the class made opening statements in a due process case and the other half argued a discovery motion. Students also worked together in small groups to analyze hypotheticals and strategize motion practice. At first, students were reluctant to volunteer answers but by the end of Procedure, robust discussions explored how best to advocate for a client.
We noted with interest that women made up nearly 75 percent of the class and most of them sat in the front of the classroom. Proportionately, more women participated in class, approached us after class to ask questions, and visited us during office hours. Ultimately, many women and men performed well on the midterms and final examinations.
One weekend, we traveled to Seoul, South Korea, where we visited former students, HeeYon Sung (JD '16) and Junhyeon Yi (LLM '16). HeeYon is in-house counsel with Golfzone, a new start-up, and Jun is a trial court judge, temporarily assigned to the Korean Supreme Court. Jun arranged a visit to the Supreme Court and the Seoul Family Court, where Karen was able to talk with juvenile and family law judges about common issues, such as judicial stress and creative ways of dealing with family conflict.
Seoul Family and Juvenile Court judges
Over a holiday break, we spent time in Beijing and had dinner with three of Andrew's classmates, Yuan Quan (JD '16), Xu Mengxi (JD '16) and Yi Fan (JD '17), all of whom are practicing in Beijing.
In Beijing with (l-r) Xu Mengxi, Robert Glennon, Karen Adam, Yi Fan,
Andrew Shepherd, and Yuan Quan
When we visited Shanghai, we had dinner with another former student, Shuang Yu (JD '16), who moved back to China after practicing in New York City with Kilpatrick Townsend to join the firm's Shanghai office and with Zhu Ye (Justin) (JD '16), who is assistant General Counsel for NIKE, Inc.
In Shanghai (l-r) Shuang Yu, Robert Glennon, Karen Adam,
Zhu Ye (Justin), and Andrew Shepherd
On the evening of the last day of class, we hosted a reception for students to celebrate the end of the school year. The students we taught and mentored remind us why international exchanges, such as ours, are an important part of a quality educational experience. In August, two of our students will join 22 others from both the senior (4th) and junior (3rd) years of the Ocean program in coming to spend a year at the UA.
For College of Law faculty and alumni, teaching at Ocean University offers a terrific opportunity to do more than simply visit China. We made good friends, learned as much as we taught, and continued the process of building educational and cultural bridges.