Saturday, January 22, 2011

viewing the past year - post holiday newsletter

18 January. Written over the Pacific enroute from Tokyo to DC

Dear Family and Friends,

This was a year of travels and the beginning of transitions. If I am to keep to my self- imposed 1 page length, I can do little more than recount events, with few reflections. As some may recall, I stepped down officially as Director, Center for Teaching Excellence and began a one-year sabbatical in July 2009. In early January, I loaded up books, electronic equipment and other necessaries for a 7-month stay in Singapore as of Visiting Professor, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. The environment was welcoming. The Lee Kuan Yew School, located adjacent to Singapore’s Botanical Gardens occupies buildings on the site of what was once “Raffles College,” where the late Mrs. Lee Kuan Yew, Choo Kwa, ranked first in her class and “Minister Mentor” Lee ranked second as secondary school students. I moved into a spacious two-bedroom 10th floor apartment in National University of Singapore subsidized housing. Each day, I could view Singapore awakening from my balcony.

My principal projects were completing a paper drawing lessons from Singapore’s post independence history that would be relevant to global sustainability issues, deepening my knowledge of Singapore’s political economy and promoting the use of System Dynamics computer modeling as a planning tool to Singapore government officials. I pursued these while my wife, her horses and our cats were coping with mountains of snow in the worst winter Washington DC had encountered in years. My Singapore sojourn offered the advantage of easy, inexpensive access to Sri Lanka, where the project to translate Paradise Poisoned: Learning about Conflict, Development and Terrorism into 16 pamphlet sized booklets (8 in Sinhala, 8 in Tamil) continued to progress. The second two were “launched” in January 2011, just a day or so ago. The summer concluded with presentation of a paper at the Annual System Dynamics Society Meeting in Seoul entitled “The Relevance of Urban Dynamics to Singapore’s Development: Lessons for Moving Beyond the Crisis.” This was co-authored with Lee Kuan Yew School graduate student colleague new friend, Elizabeth Ong Ling Lee.

Full time teaching was the fall semester’s principal agenda, including an undergraduate class “International Development” that was my first attempt and a graduate class “Quantitative Research Methods” that I can taught many times, but not for 10 years. Both classes were relatively large – 25 in the graduate class; 33 in the undergraduate. I had forgotten how long correcting papers can take, especially if one provides fairly extensive comments. Fortunately my students were both bright – and patient – which made things easier.

For Christmas, I drove to Kentucky to spend three days with our four grandchildren, my son, and other family members. Once retirement transition is settled, I intend to spend more time “grand parenting,” Its fun. Wife E… continues to live an intense and interesting life dividing full days and evenings between teaching, riding, caring for her horses and spending time with friends. She won the prize for “most helpful member” at the Old Dominion Endurance Riding Association’s annual banquet. Daughter H…. divides full days between her landscaping, restaurant serving and a new practice – mosaic murals, including an awesomely large and beautiful production in Tarpon Springs Florida. With friends, she has purchased property in Panama that she hopes to develop as a resort. Son J…’s broodmare nurturing business in Kentucky appears to be doing well; he continues to pursue a vocation he loves in some of the most beautiful country in the US. Son B…’s work as President of Shaklee International appears to be thriving. I attended events in Johor Bahru and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and was impressed with his charismatic platform presence before what appeared enthusiastic cadres of salesperson-representatives… That’s all the news one page will allow – my love and best wishes to all in the New Year. Dormgrandpop.

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