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AmoyMagic--Guide to Xiamen & Fujian
Copyright 2001-7 by Sue Brown & Dr. Bill Help Build an online  community for foreigners.  Join the Xiamen Guide forumOrder Books Common Talk Xiamen Dailys Weekly English SupplementXiamenguide Forum Guide to Xiamen and Fujian business tourism history culture cuisine entertainment investment Guide to Xiamen hsiamen amoy fuhken fukien
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How We Got Here--A Sign from the Heavens! 中文 Adapted from "XMU--Strength of the Nation"
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Many expect some deep, philosophical response when they ask why we chose Xiamen University (XMU) in 1988, but my answer is rather prosaic: The Browns--Susan, Matthew, Shannon and Bill, in the Mongolian Restaurant in Xiamen  Amoy Magic--Guide to Xiamen and Fujian  tXMU was the only Chinese university at that time that let foreign students bring families.   A far more interesting question (or at least unusual answer!) is “How on earth did we end up in Xiamen?"  The answer: it began. literally, with a sign from the heavens!

Sign From the Heavens 
After 20 years in China it is hard for me to believe that I never met a Chinese or ate Chinese food until I was twenty years old. I remember being told that one in four people on earth were Chinese and I said, “That’s not true. Our family has 4 people and none of us are Chinese!” But I got oriented quickly when the U.S. Air Force sent me to Taiwan for two years in 1976, and that was the beginning of a decade-long chain of events that led me right to XMU.

Bill Brown in Taiwan U.S. Air Force 1977As a young Air Force missile systems expert, my only interest in the mainland was as a military target. With hindsight, I’m very thankful that by the 1970s Taiwan and the apocalyptic Yellow Peril were exchanging not weapons but words.

On a bright, spring morning, a batch of mainland propaganda leaflets fell from the heavens like colored snow right onto our Air Force base. I could not read Chinese so they did not interest me at all--until the Taiwanese police told us, “You’ll go to jail if you even touch them!”
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Forbidden fruit is always sweeter
, and I stuffed my pockets with I still have this in my office at Xiamen University! contraband propaganda, raced home, closed my curtains, and studied them secretly. I didn’t believe the mainland was as rosy as the photos depicted (Red maybe, but not rosy), but they piqued my curiosity, and I began reading about Chinese history and culture. (by the way--I still have this one piece in my XMU office!).

I had already fallen for Taiwan and her people, and when I learned that 3/4 of Taiwanese were from South Fujian, I decided that someday I’d visit the mainland. I never dreamed that a decade later I’d not only visit but become Fujian Province’s first permanent resident foreigner.
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Heard of Xiamen? In 1981, in Taipei, Taiwan, I married Susan Marie, who had been born and raised in Taiwan (her parents taught there 30 years).  We met, and married, because of our mutual interest in China Susan Marie Allison and Bill Brown were married in Christ College in Taipei Taiwan(Click for "China--our Matchmaker").  

In April, 1988, right after the birth of our second son, Matthew, a total stranger phoned from Thailand and said, “I hear you’re interested in studying Chinese in China. Have you ever heard of Xiamen? Their university has dorms for families…”

“No, never have,” I said, “and my wife just had a baby so we can’t go anywhere for a couple years. But thanks anyway.”

Exactly one week later, a man from Orange, California, phoned and said, “I’ve heard you want to study in China. Have you ever heard of Xiamen?”

“Yes, I have,” I said. “Last week!” I met with him, and 5 months later my wife, two infant sons, and I were in Xiamen University.

Only English Teachers! When I showed up at XMU in 1988 with a PhD in management, half a dozen “China Hands” said China wanted nothing but English teachers, and they suggested I return to the U.S. to get a degree in TESL. So imagine my surprise and delight when I heard that XMU was starting one of China’s first MBA programs, and that they did have one foreign teacher. And as “luck” would have it (for me, if not for him), the American teacher left China mid-year because of family issues back home. The Dean asked me if I’d take his place, and I said, “Let me think about it.” And after thinking about it for a good 30 or 40 seconds, I said yes, and we’ve been here ever since.

It was the right place, and the right time, and I felt so proud to be part of the team that a couple years later awarded China’s first MBA degrees (beating Nankai University by 6 days). But in 1988, neither XMU nor Xiamen was remotely like the idyllic city and campus we take delight in today.

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A Poor SEZ XMU may well have been China’s only key university in a Special Economic Zone, but China was still a poor country, recovering from decades of difficulties, and XMU’s living conditions left much to be desired. The electricity and water were shut off several days a week (we were once without water for 4 days and I lugged it up the hillside in buckets). When we did have water, it gurgled from the faucet brown, like tea. The air was dirty as well, full of coal soot, and I coughed like a veteran smoker.

Roads were poor, we had only 3 main bus rouses, and buses were di-lapidated. Black exhaust often billowed through the busses’ wooden plank floors and sometimes I looked like a minstrel by the time I staggered off.

Rains transformed our campus’ dirt roads into quagmires, with vehicles mired in the mud at the university gates. Though we’re an island the drainage was poor and XMU often flooded. After one typhoon, Foreign Affairs (now ICE) spread their documents on the lawn to dry them in the sun. (I was curious to read what they had on me, but I didn’t have the nerve to sneak a peek).

If foreign teachers’ living conditions were bad, those of famous Chinese professors and leaders were even worse. I often encountered Liu Peng, our MBA Center’s Dean, walking home in a robe from the public bathroom a block away. Ji Yuhua, now the nationally famous Uncle Beard, lived in one room, and like other teachers he had built a kitchen of cardboard in the common hallway (replete with padlock on the cardboard door!).

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Changed From Within We would have never imagined in 1988 that only a decade later we’d have the idyllic campus we take for granted today, and that Xiamen City would be a garden city recognized internationally for balancing record economic growth with sound environmental preservation.

In 2002, I spent eight months researching Xiamen to help represent her Bill and Sue in La Caruna Spain for the Livcom awards for livable cities in 2005 representing Shanghai Songjiangin Livcom, an international competition for livable cities in Stuttgart. I was awed at what I discovered. While anyone with eyes in their head can see that the “Garden City” is indeed one of the most beautiful cities on the planet, the casual observer does not see the tremendous quality of leadership and planning that made such comprehensive changes possible.

XMU, like Xiamen City, has undergone not a mere cosmetic makeover but an evolution of purpose and spirit—though I did not have an inkling of the sheer scale of change until I researched this book. I also had no idea of XMU’s contributions not just to China but to the rest of the world over the past 85 years. This book only scratches the surface, but I hope it will help you understand, in some small measure, why XMU is not only the Strength of the South but the Strength of the Nation as well.
Brown Family Links AmoyMagic-- Travel , Resident and Business Guide to Xiamen and FujianBrown Family Main Page AmoyMagic-- Travel , Resident and Business Guide to Xiamen and FujianChina-our Matchmaker!
AmoyMagic-- Travel , Resident and Business Guide to Xiamen and FujianBest Home on Planet
AmoyMagic-- Travel , Resident and Business Guide to Xiamen and FujianHow we Got Here (Sign from the Heavens!)AmoyMagic-- Travel , Resident and Business Guide to Xiamen and Fujian

AmoyMagic-- Travel , Resident and Business Guide to Xiamen and FujianPhoto Page of our 2 Little Laowai in Amoy with Clara (90-93)Photos of Shannon Matthew and Aibei (Clara) from about 1990 to 1903

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我是如何来到这里的
   或 天堂之……  
《魅力厦门大学》

很多人问我为什么在1988年选择来厦大时,他们都期待一个深沉的、意味深长的回答。但我的回答很简单:厦大是中国当时唯一允许外国学生带家属来的学校。一个更有意思的问题是“究竟为什么要来中国?”答案是――上帝的感召!

在我20岁之前,我从来没有想过我会见到一个中国人,也没有想过会吃中国菜。我记得我20岁的时候有人告诉我,世界上四分之一的人口是中国人,我说,“不可能!我们家有四口人,但没有一个是中国人!”但很快我就去了东方,美国空军1976年派我到台湾工作2年。而此后十年发生的一系列事情最后使我来到了厦大。

天上的感召 作为一个年轻的美国空军导弹系统专家,我在中国大陆唯一的兴趣就象个军事目标。后来我知道,感谢20世纪70年代之前,台湾和apocalyptic Yellow Peril之间没有打仗,而是对话。

一个明媚的春天早晨,我所在的空军基地上空飘下一团大陆来的传单,就象彩色的雪片。我不懂中文,这些传单一点都没有引起我的注意――直到一个台湾警察告诉我们,“你们要是碰一下这些传单,就会被抓起来!”人们总是对被禁止的东西充满好奇心,我把这些违法宣传单塞进口袋,跑回家,关起窗帘,偷偷地研究起来。我不相信大陆会象照片中拍的那么rosy(应该是红色,而不是rosy),这引起了我的好奇心,于是我就开始阅读中国历史和文化方面的书。
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我爱上了台湾岛和岛上的人们,当我知道四分之三的台湾人来自福建的时候,我决定哪天我一定要去大陆看看。我从来没有想过,十年后,我不仅去了福建,还成了福建省的第一个外国永久居民。

听说过厦门吗?1988年4月,就在我的二儿子马太出生后不久,台湾的一个完全陌生的人给我打电话,他说,“我听说你想到中国学中文。你听说过厦门吗?那里的大学可以给学生家属提供宿舍……”

“不,我从没想过要去,”我说,“我妻子刚生孩子,这两年我们哪都不能去。不过还是要谢谢你。”

正好一星期之后,一个加利福尼亚Orange的人给我打电话说,“听说你想到中国学习。听说过厦门吗?”

“听说过,”我说,“就在上星期!”后来我跟他见了面,5个月后,我和妻子带者两个幼子,来到了厦门大学!

只要英语老师! 1988年,我是管理学博士,来到厦大,6个“China Hands”说中国除了英语老师什么都不要。他们建议我回美国考取一个TESL学位。可以想像,当我听到厦大开始设立中国第一批MBA program,他们也有了一个外国老师时,我又惊又喜。幸运的是(对我来说是幸运的,)那个美国老师由于家里出了点事就回国了。院长问我是否愿意接替他的工作,我说,“让我考虑一下吧。”大约考虑了三十多秒后,我说“好”,从那时起我们就留在厦大。

恰当的时间,恰当的地点,作为这个团队的一分子让我感到很骄傲。两年后我们学院颁发了中国第一个MBA学位(比南开大学早6天)。但在1988年,厦大和厦门远远没有我们今天所见到的这个校园、这座城市漂亮,那么让人愉悦。
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一个贫穷的特区 厦大是中国经济特区内唯一的一所全国重点大学,但中国还是一个相当贫困的国家,刚从几十年经济困难中恢复过来。厦门大学的生活条件很不尽人意。一周内有好几天要停水停电(有一次连续4天停水,我只好用提桶从山上提水下来)。装上自来水了,可水管里流出的水是褐色的,象茶一样的颜色。空气也不干净,尽是煤灰,我咳得象是个老烟鬼。

街道也很破,以前只有三条汽车干道,汽车很旧。黑色气体穿出汽车的木地板缝,有时下车时我看起来就象是个吟游诗人。

厦大校园的小路大多都很脏,下雨的时候,整个校园就成了一片沼泽,学校大门前车辆在泥里抛了锚,就会阻碍交通。排水系统很差,虽然厦门是一块小岛,校园还是被淹了。一次台风过后,外国事务办公室(现在的ICE)把文件摊开在太阳下的草地上晒干。(我很想知道这些文件里是否有关于我的什么信息,但我不敢偷看一眼。)

如果说外国老师的生活条件很差,那么中国的著名教授和领导的生活条件就更差了。我经常看到我们MBA学院院长刘鹏,身穿长袍,从公共浴室走好长一段路回家。纪玉华,现在是国内知名的“大胡子伯伯”,同许多其他教师住在一个房间里,同他们一样,他在公共走廊上用纸板做成了个厨房(用纸板做的门上……)。

从内部开始改变 我们在1988年时从没想象过,仅仅十年后厦大会变成今天这个田园般美丽的校园,也没想过厦门市会成为闻名世界的花园城市,既保证经济增长又能很好地保护环境。

2002年,我用了8个月时间考察厦门,厦门参加斯图加特国际花园城市比赛。我所看到的让我很震惊。每个人都可以看到,这个“海上花园”确实是地球上最漂亮的城市之一,外行人不知道实现如此全面变化背后的领导和策划。
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跟厦门市一样,厦大的改变不仅仅是表面上的,更是追求和精神的进化――尽管在我写这本书之前丝毫没有感觉到这种变化,我也不知道厦大在过去的85年对中国乃至是对世界的贡献。这本书只只是很粗浅的介绍了一些内容,我希望这些能帮助你理解在一定程度上理解,为什么厦大不仅是南方之强,更是中国之强。
   《魅力厦门大学》

Brown Family Links AmoyMagic-- Travel , Resident and Business Guide to Xiamen and FujianBrown Family Main Page AmoyMagic-- Travel , Resident and Business Guide to Xiamen and FujianChina-our Matchmaker!
AmoyMagic-- Travel , Resident and Business Guide to Xiamen and FujianBest Home on Planet
AmoyMagic-- Travel , Resident and Business Guide to Xiamen and FujianHow we Got Here (Sign from the Heavens!)AmoyMagic-- Travel , Resident and Business Guide to Xiamen and Fujian

AmoyMagic-- Travel , Resident and Business Guide to Xiamen and FujianPhoto Page of our 2 Little Laowai in Amoy with Clara (90-93)Photos of Shannon Matthew and Aibei (Clara) from about 1990 to 1903

TRAVEL LINKS Hakka Earthen architecture Favorite Fujian Sites Photographs of Fuhken places like Zhangzhou, Longyan, Ningde, Sanming, Wuyi MountainFujian Foto Album AmoyMagic-- Travel , Resident and Business Guide to Xiamen and FujianXiamen Gulangyu Kulangyu Kolongsoo Kolongsu KulongsuGulangyu Guide to Fukien Fuhken Fujian Guides Mystic Quanzhou -- the fabled port of Zayton ( or Zaytun Zaitun Zaiton ) from which Marco Polo sailed,  Sinbad the Arab visited.  ChinchewQuanzhou Zhangzhou  changchow Zhangzhou Longyan Yongding Liancheng Changting Amoy Tigers LianchengLongyan Wuyi Mountain Guide Zhuxi  tea Wuyi Mtn Ningde Taimu Mountain ZhouningNingde Putian Fujian Xianyou Mazu TemplePutian Sanming Scenic Wonderland Mingxi Gem bed rubies Sanming Zhouning Carp VillageZhouning Hakka Earthen architecture Taimu Mtn. Hakka Earthen architecture Roundhouses Fujian covered wooden bridgesBridges Hakka Earthen architecture Jiangxi Hakka Earthen architecture Guilin Help Build an online  community for foreigners.  Join the Xiamen Guide forumOrder Books Letters from AmoyMagic ReadersReaders' Letters

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Guide to Xiamen University Historic and modern, including departments -- Arts Science computers mathematics accounting management law department etc.Xiamen Univ

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