From Barkerville to Guangdong – Bringing the Stories Back

(The following is part one of the continuing adventures of Barkerville’s CEO in China: 2013 edition)

It is great to be back in Asia.  I love the juxtaposition of the jarring, chaotic, noisy, aromatic in-your-face street life with the zen-like landscape aesthetic that leaves North America looking like a sterile waste land.  Zhu Nan (I am now calling him by his real name) and I were met at the airport after an uneventful 14 hours trapped in a metal cylinder, and whisked away to Hotel Landmark Canton on the banks of Pearl River.  Although it was 1:30 in the morning our time, we were immediately taken to dinner.  Thinking it would be just Nan and I and our new friend Bin from Singapore, I was surprized to be ushered into a room of about 40 people just sitting down to a fantastic banquet.  It might have been overwhelming, but I was immediately wrapped in a  huge hug from Wang Minghui, Curator of the Guangdong Museum of Overseas Chinese, who I met in 2009.  I was then pulled into a chair beside my old friend and travelling companion Lily Chow.  So it was a merry evening, or morning, or whatever…

Zhu Nana, Lily Chow, and friends.

Zhu Nana, Lily Chow, and friends.

Today, Wednesday, November 6th, the museums who are attending this conference, including Barkerville, made short PowerPoint presentations. Tomorrow the academics and researchers will present.  I am the only Caucasian in the group and the only non-Chinese speaker. However, it’s not an obstacle for making some interesting new connections, especially since last night I passed muster with my chopstick skills.  Although the entire proceedings are being conducted in Chinese, quite a few people speak English.  There are museums here from China, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, Australia, and Los Angeles and academics from all the above plus Montreal, Netherlands and France – at least that is who I have met so far.

Judy China 2013 2

The response to our exhibit, Who Am I? Bridging the Pacific: from Guangdong to Barkerville and Back, currently showing at the Guangdong Museum of Overseas Chinese who is hosting this conference, has been fantastic.  Definitely if we could duplicate this exhibit it could tour world-wide!

Tonight another fabulous banquet. At dinners like these there is a lovely habit of jumping up in the middle of the meal with your wine or brandy glass, running over to another table and proposing a toast, which is often a short singing rhyme. (Well, you have to do something when the meal is 12 to 14 courses long!). Tonight’s dinner morphed into a spontaneous talent show that included much singing, very cool magic tricks, some charades (or something similar) and even some dancing.  Of course,  when the mic got passed to me, the words to the only two Chinese songs I know, Jasmine and Half Moon Rising, which Ying Ying has beat into my head for the last 4 years, completely flew out of it.  But everyone loved my rendition of The Water is Wide.
Judy China 2013 3
Tomorrow more workshops, but in the evening we are doing a dinner cruise on the Pearl River!
Judy Campbell
Chief Executive Officer
Barkerville Historic Town