Receiving my medal in Kunming, 2007.
Zhang Fei called from the Foreign Affairs Office today, when I was in the middle of a discussion with a College leader about the lack of support for our BE work - it seems that the College is struggling to find someone who can 'officially' work with us in the Teaching Development Centre, aka our office. The support is there, but it's off the record. The age-old battle to fulfill the aims of sustainable development continue. Very disheartening but not the first time I've been there.

"I have some good news for you", said Zhang Fei, "You have won the China National Friendship Award." Chen Yong thinks I may be the first person to win it from Yunnan Province. I couldn't speak, from a mixture of shock, disbelief and a whole range of other emotions. I still can't talk about it without choking up. I thought of Oscar-winners breaking down on the podium and being slated for it later by the media. Of course I was elated, but a few hours after receiving the news I felt overcome by another strange emotion, the strongest of all - relief. It's like an enormous burden has been lifted off my shoulders - the burden of wondering whether I'm doing the right thing, or whether I should really be here. My first thought was, "someone must be on my side."

This nomination came about because two years ago the College secretly put me forward for the Yunnan Friendship Award, given to 'foreign experts' in recognition of their contribution to the development of Yunnan. I was one of ten to recieve the award, the others all men, working in a variety of fields including education, scientific research and engineering. I was also the only British representative and had to run out the hour before prize-giving to buy a new black velvet skirt because I was also going to be the scruffiest of the bunch. To be honest, I didn't realise how much it meant to me until the moment the medal was handed over and the Vice Governor looked me in the eye and shook my hand. It's the first time I've had a medal placed over my head. It's a strangely emotional experience. Goodness knows what's going to happen when I have to shake hands with the Vice-President of China. Maybe Chen Yong was joking about that. Surely it can't be that big a do?

Prize-giving photo with the other winners and the Vice Governor of Yunnan.
10/9/2009 06:51:09 pm

Wow! Fantastic news, and richly deserved! Next stop, Communist Party member...! ;-) Well done lass!


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