Time out with T.O. -- A toast to the Chinese

by Tom O'Connor, UNMC public relations | January 13, 2014

Image with caption: Toasting the great relationship between UNMC and Tongji University are (left-right): Jialin Zheng, M.D., associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and director of UNMC's Asia Pacific Rim Development Program; Jeff Harrison, M.D., professor, family medicine; and Xinglum (Samuel) Liang  of Tongji University.

Toasting the great relationship between UNMC and Tongji University are (left-right): Jialin Zheng, M.D., associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and director of UNMC's Asia Pacific Rim Development Program; Jeff Harrison, M.D., professor, family medicine; and Xinglum (Samuel) Liang of Tongji University.

When it comes to hospitality, the Chinese are in a class by themselves.

It's our first night in China, and we're having a get together with our colleagues at Tongji University.

Gang Pei, Ph.D., president of Tongji University, gets the festivities rolling by offering a toast to the more than 20 UNMC people who came to Shanghai to participate in the Fourth Annual Shanghai Sino-U.S. Family Medicine Symposium & Faculty Training Session.

He then goes around the room and offers a separate toast at every table.

Talk about an icebreaker.

picture disc.
Tammy Kielian, Ph.D.
UNMC Chancellor Harold M. Maurer, M.D., follows with his own toast, and four other UNMC officials -- Mike Sitorius, M.D., Ken Bayles, Ph.D., Howard Fox, M.D., Ph.D., and Quan Dong Nguyen, M.D. -- take their turns.

Within 10 minutes, the room is charged with energy. Complete strangers are soon clanking glasses doing their own toasts.

It's incredible.

Following the toasts, a talent show begins. A young Chinese student kicks it off with a song from Bon Jovi.

Next, Nate Falk, M.D., a UNMC family medicine assistant professor, starts the ball rolling for UNMC. He's playing keyboard and belting out a song I don't recognize.

The man is good. I'm trying to capture it on a flip cam, but something is seriously wrong - Nate's head is completely blurry in the viewfinder.

I get back to my table and figure out what went wrong. Somehow I've managed to dip the flip cam's lens into some sort of greasy concoction. Sorry, Nate.

I frantically wipe off the lens just in time to catch the next UNMC participant, Tammy Kielian, Ph.D, professor, pathology/microbiology, perform "Dancing Queen" by Abba.

As she sings, she's holding her cell phone at arm's length with the lyrics on the screen.

It's a show stealing performance. "I'm not sure what got into me," Dr. Kielian said. "I hadn't even had a drink."

Welcome to China, Tammy, and the most hospitable people in the world.

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