Editor's note: Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott, Jr. is sending updates to The Times while he's in China.
The trip to China has provided us with all kinds of new insight into one of the world's largest economies and the most populous country. But it also provides each of us with a new appreciation of what our own country has to offer. Too often, we take our own freedoms for granted and let's face it, we have become too critical of our surroundings. Perhaps what we can learn most is to have a better gratefulness of what our nation has; a lesson that is learned by listening to the pride, dreams and hopes of the Chinese people. They take great pride in everything they have been able to accomplish, which is really mind-boggling when you look at the pace of their modernization. Although they readily admit that they have much work to do, it might be nice to capture some of the pride that they have in their nation in our own country. While they desire to be more like us, we may need to be a bit more like them!
It's also obvious, and embarrassing that the Chinese know much more about our country than we know about China. Case in point, we visited a park memorial about Guo Shoujing, who was an expert in a wide range of topics from classical studies, astronomy, mathematics and hydraulics. Now we know a bit about Confucius (ok, a very little bit), but nothing about Shoujing who built canals, solved flooding problems (his approaches are still used today), designed a functional clock, and mapped the stars almost 1,000 years ago. At the same time, they know about Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.
Today, we said goodbye to our wonderful hosts in Shahe City and flew to Guangzhou (formerly Canton). This has to be one of the most beautiful cities on earth! Its China's third largest city, and located about as far south as Mexico. Its warm, humid, unbelievably clean and has a nightly light show along the Yingbin River that is stupendous. In many ways, the city, complete with palm trees, seems very metropolitan and does not have the Chinese architectural influences of other cities that we visited.
Tom Dabertin, Chief of Staff for Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott, Jr.