Family and Friends, Today is April 5, my 75th birthday and I am a long way from home as I celebrate it. I am in the north of P.R. China, about two hours by air and seven hours by train north of Beijing. My city is Changchun and my university is Jilin University. In terms of student numbers it is the largest university in China with 60,000 students. It is made up of an integration of six colleges and universities. One of them is the Norman Bethune School of Medicine. I am teaching a graduate course in evolutionary psychology to 22 graduate students from the Department of Philosophy and Sociology. Here, psychology is part of that department. It has not yet broken free of philosophy and sociology. That may because of the Marxist influences here that make philosophy and sociology more important than psychology. But it is never over until it is over. Right? My students had a little party for me in the break in my Thursday, April 5 lecture: for my 75th birthday. They had a nice cake and sang happy birthday to me. A photographer came and took pictures of the event, but I don’t know who he was or what the pictures were for. But he seemed like a nice fellow. I also had some of my students take some pictures and I paste them here so you can see the event. When I blew the candles out I had wished that I would get back to China again. But I didn’t get them all with the first blow so this may be my last trip to China, but I hope not. However, It was not my only birthday party. I have a good friend in Tianjin who is a senior party official. She invited me down for the weekend before my birthday. I had several more celebrations there. Two were with her and her friends. Another was with one of my former students from my 2007 graduate course at Tianjin Normal University. She is now an assistant professor at the university. She and her husband have a one-month old baby boy. They invited me to give him a western name. I choose Isaac after Sir Isaac Newton, the physicist, and General Sir Isaac Brock, the general who saved Canada from a US invasion 200 years ago. I told his parents and both his grandmothers, who were taking care of him and his mother, that China had a need of great scientists and might someday have a need for a great general. I met both grandmothers and the father. After the baby viewing the grand mothers took over and we went out for a nice dinner. In many ways China is very modern. Here the cell phone rules. If you don’t have one you can’t function. one For example, when you book an airplane ticket it comes on your cell phone. And of course it is in Chinese. So there is a certain amount of Challenge in booking tickets here. However, women, even the most educated, still follow the traditional birthing rituals. For example, they stay in bed for a month and don’t take a bath or wash their hair for a month. I think some of them may cheat if the mother goes our for a while. But both the women I know, both with Ph.D. S, one from an American university follow the traditional birth rituals. I think they find them a bit constraining, but I wonder what they will do when it is their turn to be grandmothers. Grandmothers have a lot of clout here. The next night I had family dinner with my senior official friend and her family and friends. One was a just retired senior official who is a journalist and social philosopher. He and I are going meet in the middle of May for a hard core, no holds barred, in camera, off the record political discussion. His daughter says he relishes the idea of a friendly argument with me. My daughter, Michelle, who graduated in political science from SFU, will join the talk and the eating as she is coming to take me home. I have been terrible trouble with my computer and especially with iPhoto so I have lost most of the eating and family dinner pictures. The next day my Party friend gave me VIP tour of TEDA, the Tianjin Economic Development Area. It was a whole day tour. The zone is massive and there is great energy in its development. When I saw the scale of it I thought, “Poor Canada: poor Mr. Harper.” But he is slowly learning about China. I felt like Mr. Harper when I noticed a car ahead of us with its taillights flashing. I asked why the lights were flashing. My friend told me it was to warn cars not to get between the cars in our group. She and I were in the back seat of her car. By the way it was a standard “black” Toyota. All officials in TEDA have similar cars. It didn’t have a sun roof so I assume it was not the top of the line model. There was a third car behind us that contained several smartly dressed young women. When our car stopped they jumped out of their car, ran forward and opened the car doors for my friend and me. At lunch I had, what I think was the most exquisite lunch that I have ever had. It was in a small, private dining room in a very up scale Japanese restaurant. I generally avoid sushi, as it seems rather tasteless to me. But this sushi was wonderful! The Chinese do love to eat and they love to eat good food! Party officials especially like food. I think I should end this by getting back to my university and my students. I live in the Friendship Hotel that is owned by the university. It has students and teachers from all over the world. One of the most interesting is a Spaniard who was teaching in English. That is not unusual. That is what I do. But he was teaching ancient Greek and Latin language and history to Chinese students in English. Where else could that happen? As you all know I am an old albino and have been legally blind from birth. So everyone here is terribly worried that I will fall in a ditch, be run over by a truck or hit by an electric bicycle. So my students have organised themselves into teams to walk me to and from my class. An advantage to them is that they can practise their English with me as we walk. As I said, I have 22 students. Twenty of them are women. They all seem very young to me. The professor who invited me to Jilin is also a woman. One thing I like here is my interactions with women, especially, young women. Back in Canada I pretty well avoid women Upper left, my of-ice, upper right, Dr. Yanyan Zhang, who invited me to Jilin. Lower left, two of my students, Bianca centre and May left. unless they are a member of my family or are over 60. I have a rule with women There pictures were all takenk in my of-ice. Do you notice soemthing in the pictures that would I meet back in Canada and especially at be unsual in a faculty of-ice in the West? SFU. If I have coffee with a woman, I may ask her to coffee a few weeks or a month or so later. If she says no, I ask her one more time. If she again says no without a very good excuse I never ask her again. It seems to me like the prudent thing to do. But there is certain innocence here about such matters which is very pleasant for an old grandfather. Let me give an example. Yesterday I went shopping at a little Chinese mall, not far from my hotel, for a bag to carry my notebook computer. In Changchun no one, and I mean no one, speaks English. There are no English signs and there are only a few menus with even a bit of English on them. I was trying to get the price of the bag from the woman who ran the shop. A nice young Chinese woman who spoke quite good English helped me with the deal. I talked to her for a little while. I needed some other things, such as an Ethernet cable, so I asked if she would like to help me find them. She readily agreed as she said her boy friend was playing computer games and she didn’t have much to do. We bought them and then wandered around for an hour or so. She tried to help me find a place to get my glasses fixed. Finally, we got lost. I didn’t know where my hotel was and neither did she. She got on her cell phone and called a male friend; not her boy friend. He appeared in about five minutes and showed both of us where my hotel was, so I invited them to coffee and we spent a pleasant hour or so in my hotel coffee shop. When I went to pay the bill the young man said that he had paid it! We got on to TV. His favourite program was “Prison Break.” Hers was “Match Making.” Some things are cross cultural! And now, back to my 75th birthday. I taught at Tianjin Normal University in 2007, when I was 70. The going is harder here. First, I don’t have any Party friends to ease the way for me. I am just a visiting professor at a monster university. There is not a single staff member in my hotel that knows a single word of English. There isn’t a good, cheap restaurant in the hotel. So getting my food is a bit of a struggle. Getting my laundry done is simply amusing! Second, five years makes a difference, at least at my age, and I am not as adventurous as I was at 70. My course has 40 contact hours. Most of them have to be lectures. Forty hours of graduate lectures is a lot of work. But I am having fun. I have a small, very small, four room apartment. What is strange is that two of the rooms are bathrooms. So I call one my kitchen and the other my bathroom. I went dow to Beijing on this this past Thursday to give a talk at the Psychology at Peking University. It was at noon on Friday. Apparently, every Friday the have a talk for the faculty and graduate students. That is Professor Su introducing me. That book she is holding is titled “Evolutionary psychology; Public policy and personal decisions. I edited it with Catherine Salmon, who was a post doctoral fellow in evolutionary psychology from about 2000 to 2004. Apparently Su uses it in her graduate course. Left to right, Dr. Yanyan Zhang, who invited me to Jilin, an old codger, Professor Su, Cindy Liu, who was a graduate student in psychology at UBC a few years ago. She is now an assistant professor at Beijing Capitol University.