It is Tuesday, July 31st 1:35 pm CST (Beijing Time) and today is my unofficial first day as a 2012 Pfizer Global Health Fellow. Wow, I have been in Shanghai now since July 18th, but I have not yet recovered from jet lag. Working both a Shanghai day and a East Coast U.S. day is taking its toll on my sleep deprived body, however, the kinetic energy coupled with the sheer overwhelming responsibility of helping Project HOPE achieve their on-line learning goals has me amped and I couldn’t sleep if I wanted to.
I checked out of the Renaissance PuDong Hotel at 10am and traveled by van over to the Shanghai Children’s Medical Center Guest House. The ride over was pleasant and I was slightly embarrassed by my two large and over packed black suitcases along with my laptop bag and a small black carryon bag. My host Gu was wondering what I had packed. All of the comforts that make me feel at home, coupled with clothing that will help me transition from the hot and steamy Shanghai summer to the cool autumn and early winter when I return home to Rhode Island November 15th.
When it came to food, I have played it safe. My first day in the office at the China Research and Development Center (CRDC) my Pfizer hosts took me to lunch at the Herbal Legend, which incidentally was quite good, even if the Arrowood Iced Tea tasted surprisingly like sweet corn. I, however, have been reluctant to venture out to a restaurant on my own and thus ate my other meals at the hotel, sampling some of the Asian fare that was distinctly Asian, yet tailored to a western palate. I decided to wait until my fellowship started to venture out to restaurants with my Chinese hosts translating the items on the menu so that I would not be surprised by what appeared on my plate.
Well, today, as I was introduced by Gu to the office staff, Jenny and the fellow Project HOPE colleagues, I was whisked over to the cafeteria for lunch at 11:30 am, where everyone was excited that it was cold noodle day. The cafeteria was for the hospital staff and was thriving with doctors and nurses enjoying their meals. There were two types of meat with the noodles, shrimp or egg and pork. I chose the shrimp, though it was a bit different to have my shrimp looking at me in a full exoskeleton. Since I had just had a rather large breakfast at 9am, I did not eat much, just enough to sample the noodles with the peanut sauce and to enjoy the cabbage and carrot soup.
After the lunch I had a good conversation with Jenny, who is the nutritionist, about Project HOPE China’s plans and expectations to move their instructor-led training (ILT) to an online format. And easy enough task if you have the right infrastructure in place to sustain it. My challenge is to understand the IT environment that Project HOPE has and then to snag an expert in China who can make Project HOPE China ready for all that is involved with managing on-line training. My expertise lies in translating ILT into web-based training (WBT) where the client already has a LMS (learning management system) in place and an IT infrastructure to sustain it. I am moving into new territory here, however, I am up for the challenge.
Tomorrow, August 1st, is my official first day at the Project HOPE. I hope that I am not too excited to sleep. I will need my rest as I begin this exciting new adventure in my life.