Friday, October 27, 2006

Amartya Who?

Harg harg harg. I foolishly signed up last week to go along with a few members of Beida's US-China Business Association to a big event this morning. Essentially, this was the opening ceremony of an annual conference held by Beida, this year the topic is "The Harmony of Civilizations and Prosperity for All." Theoretically interesting, but from my vantage, mostly a lot of hot air.

Despite having to sit through a few boring speeches by Beida officials, Beijing officials and Olympic committee officials, the trip was not without perks. Most notably, the shebang was held at the Great Hall of the People, one of the big buildings adjacent to Tiananmen Square, at the center of Beijing. It was fairly impressive, although I wasn't really allowed to run free through the building. Understandable, I guess.

Also cool was hearing the keynote address given by Nobel Laureate in Economics Amartya Sen. He's one of those card-carrying certified geniuses who is kind of intimidating even to look at. The speech was interesting, although necessarily itself somewhat full of hot air. He talked about the interdependency of civilization (not, notably, "civilizations"), and was full of professorial anecdotes and stories.

Both Amartya and I decided to cut out at intermission-- he because he's a genius, and me because I was bored. He was mobbed by Chinese students who wanted a picture with him, and it took him ages to get out of the room, but eventually made it and headed for the elevator. As I was slipping out simultaneously, I surreptitiously snuck into the same car.

OK, everybody, raise your hand if you've ridden in an elevator with a Nobel Laureate? That's what I thought. It was everything I had hoped it would be and more. I thanked him for his speech, and he asked me if I wanted to accompany him on his tour of Asia. I politely declined, as I have class on Monday. Actually, that last bit isn't really true. Anyway, I had a pleasant trip back to Beida with Frankie, pictured at right, who speaks better English than I do.

3 Comments:

Blogger Matthew Garza said...

Great post. You always keep me laughing. And if you had dropped my name I sure he would have wanted to travel with you. Everything is harmonious in China.

27/10/06 10:51 AM  
Anonymous Chloe said...

Oh my gosh, I'm so jealous that you got to meet and listen to Amartya Sen! I have read about half of his book Development As Freedom. He's so amazing, I can't believe you met him!

28/10/06 12:06 AM  
Blogger amcanannie said...

Nice Sam! Good work with the elevator conversation.

Well, you're not missing out around here...it's a rainy, windy Nor'easter out there!

Any evidence of Halloween in Beijing?

28/10/06 2:04 PM  

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