2012 Hunan Friendship Awards 2

2012 Hunan Friendship Awards
CHANGSHA, HUNAN — More than two years, my college nominated me for the Hunan Friendship Award 潇湘友谊奖. So, when my foreign affairs officer Anna called to tell me I won an award, it took me a minute or two to realize what she was talking about. It’s a pretty big deal here. Out of the 4,000 foreigners in the province, only 20 of us — six teachers and 14 businessmen — were selected for this biennial award. It’s given to foreign experts for contributions to “the economic and social development of Hunan Province.” The ceremony was last week. I got a metal-and-wood plaque (at right), a gold(-plated) medal, a classy red-and-gold pen, a red-and-gold thumb drive, a certificate, and a night in a ritzy hotel in Changsha. The governor of the province, Xu ShouSheng, handed out the awards. It may sound like nothing to an American, but in China government bigwigs only appear in public for really special events, like earthquakes or diplomatic visits. (In the photo above, Xu is front row center, next to the African-American woman, teacher Jackie Martin.) Besides all that, the uni picked up the tab for the round-trip bus fare and the two extra nights ...
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