Goodwill China Tour Day 2
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Goodwill China Tour Day 2

Cody here again.  Today was our first full day spent in China.  As we woke up in our beds and looked out the window, we saw the streets of Chengde, China.  We did not have a lot of time to marvel at this thought as breakfast was at 8 o’clock.  On the menu was an assortment of Chinese breakfast dishes but the main attraction may have been coffee.  Old timer Andrew Wheeler quickly got the black liquid stimulant down his throat.  As soon as our bellies were fueled up we were swept away into a meeting with our brilliant tour manager John McIntosh.  Here we learned more about what we are here to do in China.  Our tour is titled the Goodwill China Tour.  JohnnyMac explained to us that much of the idea of the goodwill we hope to achieve is through friendship.  We from Trinity Western know a thing or 2 about friendship having grown together in the first half of our season back home to build a 10 and 3 winning record.  However, the challenge came with the idea of creating friendship with those we do not normally get to spend time with.  Being in China, you would think the primary focus of friendship would be on the Chinese and rightfully so, but we are already sharing meals and bus rides with a group of Russians.  We have the opportunity to connect with people from all over the world on this Goodwill Tour and this morning after our meeting we got to see this take place first hand.
We are privileged to be joined on our journey by Dr. Philip Laird, one of TWU’s own representatives on an international level.   This morning he was to go to Hebei Normal University for Nationalities to sign a memorandum of understanding with school president Guoan Su.  Approximately half of our team was able to come along and witness the meeting.  The purpose of this agreement was to allow relations between Trinity Western University and this school here in Chengde, China.  Of all the universities in Chengde, this one is most like TWU.  The agreement was to open the doors for cultural exchange between universities and allow for things such as student exchange and short term travel study programs.
Of course we did have to get from our hotel to the university.  To do this we took several cabs, 4 guys to 1 cab.  This gave us a better taste of Chinese traffic.  Actually it was more like a mouthful.  Before I go on I will say that all of us got there and back safely and without harm.  Aaron Gruenhage is proud to say that he witnessed 3 to 4 fender benders on the trip.  To say the least, it was hectic, but with smiles on our faces (and confused stares from the non-English speaking cab drivers) and adventure in our minds, we embraced the experience and enjoyed the ride and soon enough we found ourselves back at the hotel.
While some of us were attending the signing of the memorandum of understanding, others were at the hotel being fitted for custom suits.  This took up a good chunk of time and before we knew it we were eating lunch.  A few chicken nuggets later and we were on the bus headed to Beijing to take in a KHL game.  There was a fair amount of excitement surrounding the game with the KHL being arguably the second best pro hockey league in the world.  We were moderately surprised to be the only ones in the stands to watch the game but we enjoyed it nonetheless (we weren’t actually the only ones).  Good times were had and a debate took place as to whether or not our team would get slaughtered by the teams we were watching.  No clear conclusion was found but the vast number of ex-NHLers on the rosters led me to lean towards one side.
All in all, it was another long day.  Upon our arrival back at the hotel at 1 in the morning, we learned that our schedule for the next day was not exactly as we had expected.  It has not taken us long to find out that the unexpected should be expected.  Even as I sit here writing this blog, my phone is buzzing with constant messages between coaches and managers within our group chat, trying to configure tomorrow’s schedule.  Surely as we wake up we will be met with more challenges.  As much as this can wear us down, from time to time we do sit back and marvel that we are actually here in China.  It is not uncommon to hear an exclamation of glee come from the mouth of Dawson Sawatzky or laughter unable to be contained from Deryk Kirchner.  With each passing event, new memories are made and we look forward to playing our first bit of hockey tomorrow.  Stay tuned.