Shanghai Surprise

I received some unexpected but very good news today.  I was chosen for a two-week assignment in Shanghai, China.  Twice a year, four individuals are sent to other countries to work for two weeks.  Because I was involved in the APEC Summit and am now doing a short-term job assignment in my career field, I did not think I would qualify an assignment out of country.  It’s akin to winning the Triple Crown–most people only participate in one or two of these activities.  I am extremely grateful to have been chosen for the assignment, in spite of prior career opportunities.  In this line of work, “fair” is a “four-letter word,” meaning that nothing in this line of work is really fair.  Maybe you make more than your colleague.  Maybe you’re passed up for a promotion.  Maybe you get a better assignment than someone else.  Maybe you get more chances to shine.  Sometimes things go your way, and sometimes they don’t.  For example, we were placed in Seoul after my initial, preferred assignment became unavailable.  My stoic response is that everything evens out eventually.  When things aren’t going right, just wait for awhile, and the tide should turn.  I was fully prepared not to get this assignment, because I’ve already been extremely fortunate, more than I know some of my colleagues have been.  I was perfectly happen to defer to them.  At the same time, other colleagues have been given more opportunities than I’ve had in Seoul.  That’s fine by me.  I know that “fair” is a four-letter word and accept this reality.  I know that things won’t always be this good.  I know that someday I will face some unforeseen adversity.

My wife was ecstatic to find out that we’re heading to Shanghai for two weeks next March or April.  Her parents returned to Shanghai from Seattle following her grandmother’s death.  Our return to China will hopefully help lift everyone’s spirits and help bring the family closer together.  Because my wife works full time, she may only stay for one week.  We also talked about having my son stay with me for the full two weeks and have his grandparents take care of him during the day while I work.  We’re not sure yet.  This trip won’t be a vacation, because I have to work full time.  However, evenings and weekends will be free.  Perhaps we’ll take a trip to Hangzhou or back to Anhui Province.  Maybe we’ll catch a weekend in Xi’an or Guangzhou.  We haven’t decided yet.  It’s a good dilemma figuring out our travel plans.

With our trip to Shanghai and return to the U.S. in May, I may have to drop out of the choir I mentioned yesterday.  I will be away at least four weeks this spring, so I don’t know whether I will have time to commit to it.  I’ll talk to my colleague, the music director, and find out whether I should stay.  I’d rather drop out now than find out I’m going to miss some performances or sound lousy because I didn’t practice enough.  I also decided to forego studying and taking the German exam.  There is only one German-speaking assignment I could qualify for, and it’s very unlikely that I would be assigned to that job, because “fair” is a four-letter word in this line of work.  I decided to hold off studying and focus on Korean and Spanish or Chinese, whichever is required for my next assignment.

Blog Notes:  Tonight’s blog title beat out the other title that crossed my mind:  “We Got Shanghai’d.”

From the “Things that Make You Go Hmm…” Department:  Why is Google complying with Chinese authorities and offering without blogging and E-mail features when it does not feel compelled to cooperate with U.S. authorities?  Google’s policy has been to work within the legal framework of countries where it does business.  Why is it so quickly cooperating with the Chinese and so willing to go to court with the U.S. Department of Justice?