Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Day 36: The Last Day Hurrah!

Picture 1:The main entrance area of IDEO's Shanghai office with the employee relaxation treehouse in the background. 
Picture 2: My lunch at the food court! Korean Bibimbap, which our group has taken to calling "Boomboompow".
Picture 3: My favorite of Li Bing's paintings, modeled after a famous photo of Mao Zedong.
Picture 4: The whole group with Li Bing in front of the painting he is currently still working on.
Picture 5: The chic room for our last group discussion on the 56th floor of Jinmao.
Picture 6: Our group dinner at Banana Leaf, a Thai restaurant.
Picture 7: Singing and dancing with the performers at Banana Leaf.
Picture 8: Birthday celebration at Banana Leaf for Sie and Cindy! Happy 19!
Today was our last full day in China as a group, and it was packed with amazing speakers, delicious food, and a wonderful celebration at the end. Our day started out this morning at 9:30, when we boarded a coach bus to go to IDEO Shanghai, a well-known American design firm's Chinese office. It has been absolutely pouring rain for two days straight now, and even as I am sitting here typing this I can still hear the constant sound of hard rain on building tops. Our original plan was to spend the day walking around the city and exploring the subway lines to get from place to place, but we were all beyond thankful when Dong Laoshi informed us that she had scheduled a coach bus because of the weather. When we arrived at IDEO, we were met with chic and innovative design structures covering the office, including a tree house for stressed employees that need a relaxing place to go, a brand new kitchen for preparing group office lunches, and a wall of photos from the design team's recent inspiration trip to London for their latest project. We listened to three speakers and went on a tour of the office and prototyping space, and learned everything about the office from how their products appeal to consumers to issues of food safety and how they can affect consumer trust. 
After our morning spent at IDEO, we were given some time to relax and explore the area around the office, but it was still pouring rain and I ended up just finding a coffee shop and ordering myself a caramel macchiato. We boarded the bus and headed to an outdoor shopping mall area for lunch, but of course we all immediately flocked to the indoor food court considering the weather predicament. The food at the food court was surprisingly extremely delicious and not too overpriced, and it seemed to me that everyone was very satisfied with their meals. 
Lunch was followed up with by a visit to the home of Li Bing, a famous artist who passes his time painting huge pictures in a very realistic style of historical figures and themes from modern Chinese history. As soon as we walked into his house, Li Bing started running around trying to get all of his most impressive works up for display for us in his studio. The amazing works of art in so many bright colors overwhelmed me, and some of the portraits of famous people looked so real that I thought they might have been actual photos at first. Some of his paintings were so large that they spanned one entire wall of his huge studio room. My favorite of all of the paintings he showed us was one that was modeled after a famous historical photo of Mao Zedong took with writers and artists and other members of the Communist Party in the 1940s in Yan'an, but instead these people he painted the same scene with all of the famous modern artists, writers, and actors and actresses of China in various different bright colors. I could have stayed at Li Bing's home all day, but unfortunately, we were on a tight schedule and had to return to Jinmao, the hotel skyscraper we visited yesterday to complete our final group discussion of the dialogue. 
It was finally time for our last group dinner after our discussion was over, and Dong Laoshi took us to a really upbeat, high-end Thai restaurant and told us she had two surprises for us by the end of the night. Our dinner was phenomenal, and our first surprise came as the restaurant performers ran into our private room singing "I Gotta Feeling" by the Black Eyed Peas. We all joined in and danced around the dinner table, all smiling and laughing and having a great time. Our second surprise came a little later in the night when the performers came back, but this time, with a plate full of deserts to sing happy birthday to Sie and Cindy, who both have birthdays on Friday. We ended up all staying at dinner long after we were done eating, sharing stories and making the best of our last group event together. Finally, we all left the restaurant and headed to a KTV to spend the remainder of the night, singing karaoke and spending as much time together as possible before we all begin to go our separate ways in the morning. 

- Sierra S.

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