Posted on July 31, 2012
Joining the current Club for the spring tour to China was a great experience for alumni, a time filled with memories similar to and also different from their experiences on tour when they were students.
Whether one chose to participate in the full two-week tour of five major cities (eight of us did) or the shorter ten-day portion that included three major cities (two chose this option), the experiences were quite memorable. From the Great Wall to the Terracotta Warriors (see photo) to the skyscrapers in Shanghai, we were treated to great overnights in quality hotels, excellent meals (I’m guessing we sampled over 200 Chinese dishes during the two weeks) and fascinating excursions in and around some of the largest and most important cities in China.
Six alumni and Spouses with Terracotta Warriors
Some highlights from the alumni perspective:
- Great camaraderie with Clubbers –- Whether we were singing, drinking, telling stories of the old days (at least six of ten alumni sang in the male choir competitions in Llangollen, Wales during overseas tours), making up limericks – some pushed the limits of sensitive ears! , figuring out Chinese menus, negotiating prices or just riding in the bus together—we thoroughly enjoyed one another’s company and laughed and sang a lot.
- Singing On Stage –We joined the Club on stage to sing during the second half of the final two concerts in Wuhan and Shanghai-- what a thrill! All concerts were sellouts. One unusual practice in China was the way ushers patrolled the audiences to warn individuals to not take photos. They either used laser pointers or plastic signs with neon lettering held in front of people to get the attention of those who were caught in the act. Made us all the more want to take pictures!
- Hutong Community – One special experience for just the alumni was an excursion through a “hutong,” one of the oldest types of residential communities in Beijing. These communities consisted of small single-family dwellings attached to each other with a courtyard in the center and alleys along the perimeter. We were transported through alleys in rickshaws, had an outstanding home cooked meal in a tiny house with a 3’x5’ kitchen and learned a lot about how families lived in cities before high rise apartments became the norm.
- General Impressions: We were very impressed by the high quality of voices in the current Club and the broad range of musical selections compared with our experiences a hundred years ago. Dr. Rogers did an outstanding job, not only directing the Club musically but also showed a genuine compassion for Clubbers e.g. he arranged for and actually traveled by cab with an ill Clubber to the hospital on the day we were leaving for the US. He sacrificed his time and flexibility to assist the student and communicate with the parents back home. The Club has created lots of fun traditions during tours (e.g. creating “haiku” sayings on the bus, mimicking the flight attendants during takeoffs, singing “happy birthday” and generally showing good natured humor throughout).
L to R: Rudy Bickel, Frank Lum, Bruce Johnson, 'Cille Ramsey, Alice Majewski, Stan Majewski, Barb Wybrecht, Rom Portwood, Linda Tiffan, Bill Tiffan, Terry Sheperdigian, Steve Ramsey, Doug Sheperdigian, and Ted Wybrecht (not pictured: Craig Brennan).
The alumni and spouses who joined the China tour:
- Rudy Bickel '59, Haymarket, VA
- Steve Ramsey '67, Lake Forest, IL
- Craig Brennan '80, San Francisco, CA
- 'Cille Ramsey
- Bruce Johnson '77, New York, NY
- Doug Sheperdigian '79, Surrey, England
- Frank Lum '69, Ann Arbor, MI
- Terry Sheperdigian
- Stan Majewski '61, Troy, MI
- Bill Tiffan '68, Sarasota, FL
- Alice Majewski
- Linda Tiffan
- Rom Portwood '57, San Francisco, CA
- Ted Wybrecht '64, Grand Rapids, MI
- Barb Wybrecht
Bill Tiffan, '68