Day 4 in China

This morning we got to sleep in a little later than normal. At 10:15 we headed out of the hotel. After walking for a little over five minutes we reached our final destination, Shanghai’s Eco-City building. The office spaces in this tall, modern building are occupied by many different companies. We met in a room normally used to showc

ase furniture. The chairs, couches, and light fixtures were unlike anything we had seen before. Here we listen to eight different speakers over the course of the morning and afternoon.

The first speaker of the day, Irving Steel, was a young man working with Aquaponics. As he explained to us, Aquaponics is any way of combining the needs of fish and plants to create a balanced ecosystem. These inventions include anything from fish tanks with plants growing on top to roof-top gardens with fish swimming below. He gave us each a piece of paper and had us sketch some of our own ideas as well. Irving Steel believes that imagining, inspiring, and innovating are the three most important steps to leading a fulfilling life and career.

The second speaker we heard this morning was a fashionable, young woman by the name of Gabriel Lo. She worked with Naked Retreat, a company focused on creating eco-friendly escapes from the busy city life of Shanghai. For many Chinese, she explained, leaving the country and traveling to Europe or America for a week just isn’t an option. Their two to four bedroom “tree-top houses” are a perfect way to get away from the cars and pollution and rush of the city. All of Naked Retreats buildings are designed with the earth the earth in mind.

The last speaker we heard before heading to lunch at a local Japanese restaurant was Jeni Saeyang from Eco & More. Jeni was born in China but moved out of the country at a young age. She studied architecture in college but did not find her true passion until she moved back to Shanghai. Here she created her line of eco-friendly cleaning products. These Eco & More detergents are not petroleum based like many other products, but are instead made from coconut oil. Coconuts are a much more sustainable source and are much better for the environment when used in soaps and other cleaning products.

We walked from the Eco-City building to our lunch spot. Here we had delicious Japanese noodles with our choice of different meats or vegetables.

Then, we returned to hear the next few speakers. Raf Adams, the author of The Suited Monk,

was born and lived in Belgium for most of his life. He moved to China a few years ago to work with the increasingly unhappy population of working Chinese men and women. He discussed how these young men and women were so focused on advancing their status and wealth that they easily lost track of their purpose in life and became extremely unhappy. He leads workshops to help these workers suit their careers to their desired purposes.

Next, we heard Margie Chang speak about her work with the World Health Store (WHS). She explained how her company used sites like Weibo (China’s equivalent to Facebook) and other technology to advance their products instead of retail space.

Afterwards, we heard from Kimberly Ashton, a native Australian, about Sprout Lifestyle. This brand new company focuses on promoting health and wellness through educating the public. Kimberly shares a retail space with Jeni Saeyang.

We took a quick break to get Coffee and Bubble Tea before heading back to Eco-City for our last two speakers.

Deb Temper, an engineer turned consultant, followed her husband and his work from America to Peru and eventually to Shanghai. Here she found her passion working with nonprofits like Tedx Shanghai, Stone Soup, Girl Scouts, and many others.

Our final speaker, Hui-Min Tzeng, was a young woman working for Bayer Corporation. She described to us the occasional tension between the desires of major companies and the desire for sustainability.

We headed back to the hotel for a short break before driving to a Dim sum restaurant for dinner. The food was delicious and I finally got the pork buns I had been craving the entire trip!

Lastly, we drove to a theatre for an amazing Acrobatics show. The flexibility of some of the performers was unreal! We saw everything from contortionists to jugglers to men motorcycling around in a giant metal cage. Then, we headed back to the hotel for some well-deserved rest!

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