The project work groups have headed out for the day to, hummmm, work on projects. The Internet connection at the university is spotty at best and non-existent at worst, so we find a safe haven to have some tea and wireless -- Fong's Café.
Before I pack up to make the sultry trip two blocks down the street (and with the clearing skies I'm down to a pack-and-a-half a day with second-hand smoke), a Chinese student named Alex stops by the Dean's office (our workplace and cool spot) to look over some photos I have taken the past few days and talk shop. He then wanders the conversation from Dao theory and principle to the beauty (he was quick to point out both physical and inner) of American women. He speaks his mind about how his generation deals with the influence of the west, the Cultural Revolution and the pressures of being a team leader. And of course he talks about his love of soccer.
I marvel at his candor as he expresses his views (with a good grasp of English and knowing to use enough several clichés to keep my attention) and he tells me about wanting more freedom (pointing out I don't know anyone ever asking for less freedom) and for China to be respected globally. "We are smart. Why don‚t we have a Nobel Prize?" He goes on about the Post-Cultural Revolution generation dealing with extremes ... from no information to too much. We speak more about Daoism (boiled down to these phrase I've hear a few times now: Don't try to change your environment, change yourself. / One coin has two sides.) and putting it to use as a foundation to making daily choices. He struggles with many of the same things, as do other students on campuses across the world ... seeking an exchange of ideas and concepts and then dealing with being given that information.
Alex then launches into a speech about teamwork and being a team player, both for the state and for the soccer field. He asks if being too critical is a bad thing. He goes on about how his teammates perceive his intensity, and then some women needing to borrow Alex for another project interrupt us. Before he leaves, he looks to me for a bit of advice ...
I tell him to follow his heart.