As many of us spend our evenings watching the Olympic Games in China we have the opportunity to learn more about the country and people who are hosting this year’s games. Television, radio, newspaper and Internet news stories communicate the hardships and advances taking place in one of the world’s most fascinating places.
Twenty-nine years ago, a delegation from the University of Minnesota had the opportunity to learn more about China first hand. Sent by the University administration in support of the recently adopted mission statement of the Board of Regents that cast the U of M as “an institution of worldwide responsibility.” The delegation consisted of twelve members including representatives of the College of Liberal Arts, the Institute of Technology, U of M administration, and two from the Medical School: Dean Neal Gault and Professor Yang Wang. The delegation traveled to various locations during the three week trip in an effort to promote scholarly exchange.
In his own report chronicling the trip, Dean Gault recounted in vivid detail his impressions and thoughts on the hospitality of the officials who welcomed them as well as an account of the infrastructure and institutional challenges China faced as it emerged from the Cultural Revolution.
In one account in particular, Dean Gault captured both the enthusiasm of their hosts as well as the sentiment of friendship when visiting Jilin University.
Smiles, smile, smiles—a[n] ocean full of smiles. Never have I had such a surging within me to imbibe the exhilarating fellowship that was being extended to me; it was a powerful and moving experience that I trust I will never forget. Of course I know such a welcome is extended most visitors and although I think they were so pleased to have the University of Minnesota there I suspect others who come will get the same first class treatment. For the Chinese are very hospitable people who are very kind and gracious.
Dean Gault’s praise and excitement came from a man whose own experiences at Seoul National University and the Okinawa General Hospital made him quite qualified to make such an assessment.
Read the full text of Dean Gault’s Report of the University of Minnesota Delegation to the Peoples’ Republic of China, September 1-21, 1979 below. Page ten is missing from the report copy.