Sunday, April 20, 2008

Stanford Alumni Reception

There was a Stanford Alumni Reception in Beijing, Shangri-La Hotel, yesterday. I learned that alumni receptions essentially consist of many hors d'oeuvres and talking to random people.

Okay maybe not that random: people including John Hennessy, President of Stanford; John Bravman, Vice Provost of Stanford; Jim Plummer, Dean of the School of Engineering; two other deans, composing the delegation to Asia; a number of professors; and some very impressive alumni. A few of us chatted with Hennessy for 20 or 30 minutes about China, Tibet and the Olympics, censorship, and all sorts of interesting intellectual things. Actually, Che and I intro'ed ourselves with: "Hi, we used your textbook last quarter, we love EE108B!" and it somehow segued nicely into less nerdy conversation. At one point Hennessy said, "China's trying to paint the Dalai Lama as some sort of monster.. that's obviously not going to work. I've met the guy, he's such a nice person" and proceeded very casually with the rest of the conversation. I wonder what it's like to be name-dropping on the order of the Dalai Lama. We also chatted with Bravman for a while, about the weather and such (a little bit less intellectually stimulating). One of the most notable alumni I talked to was Nick Yang, who began with, "My company is publicly traded on NASDAQ. Oh, by the way, this is my second company. We sold the first one for $30 million." And then, "But I'm not the most successful in my class, the Google guys were at Stanford the same time as me."

Chinese people have a term for really cool/baller: 牛, niu2, literal meaning "cow". All of the people I mentioned above would be considered 大牛, da4 niu2, literal meaning "big cow".

I had the foresight to make business cards last week when Helen and I visited the Central Business District to see someone at USITO. That was pretty clutch. I'm not even looking for a job, although I was basically offered one by virtue of the fact that I'm EE - but it was really cool to meet people and distribute my business card! and hopefully I will be motivated enough to stay in contact with these 大牛. All of whom, by the way, are engineers, interestingly, and predominantly EECS. I love it. Actually, Stanford EECS is pretty much all I have on my business card.. but it's so key! One alumnus yesterday saw that my nametag had MS'09 on it (I don't know who registered me, but they put BS and MS'09), and he said, "Wait, let me guess. You must be econ undergrad and MS&E coterm." When I responded with "EE undergrad, CS coterm", he seemed much more impressed. That's right ;-)

[Haha, this intellectual elitism needs to stop. EEs are a little too proud of being EE, I think.]

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