“TALKING ABOUT FRIENDSHIP” by James Wei – October 2020

James Wei – few years ago

Dear Bill:

We first met seventy years ago, at the home of my Uncle Jack at 
Bronxville, New York.  It is incredible that we stayed in touch all 
these years through happy youth, prosperous adulthood, and quiet senior 
citizenship.  Confucius used to say that “It is rare to reach the age of 
seventy”.  But we managed to survive to ninety.  May the next ninety 
year be even more prosperous.

Jim Wei

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Vita:  James Wei received his Bachelors degree in Chemical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology in 1952, M.S. and Sc.D. in Chemical Engineering from MIT in 1954 and 1955 (with a minor in Fine Arts from Harvard).  He also has a degree in Advanced Management from Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration in 1969.  He began his career as a Research Chemical Engineer for Mobil Oil Research in 1955, and advanced to Manager of Long-Range Analysis by 1969.  He was Visiting Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Princeton University in 1962-1963, Visiting Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at California Institute of Technology in 1965, and Sherman M. Fairchild Distinguished Scholar in 1977.  From 1971-1977, he was the Allan P. Colburn Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Delaware.  He joined MIT in 1977 where he served as Department Head of Chemical Engineering until 1988, and was the Warren K. Lewis Professor from 1977-1991.  Between 1991 and 2002, he was Dean of Engineering and Applied Science at Princeton University.  Since 1991, he was also Pomeroy and Betty Perry Smith Professor of Chemical Engineering at Princeton University.  

            Dr. Wei has published more than 130 research papers on chemical kinetics, catalysis, reaction engineering, and cancer chemotherapy.  He has co-authored seven books, including “The Structure of Chemical Processing Industries” with McGraw-Hill in 1978, and “Product Engineering: Molecular Structure and Properties”, Oxford University Press in 2007.   Professor Wei has been editor of several book series and journals including:  Chemical Technology, member of the Executive Board, 1971-1979; Consulting Editor for McGraw-Hill Book Series of Chemical Engineering from 1964-1992; and Editor-in-Chief of Advances in Chemical Engineering, since 1982, responsible for Volumes 12-24.  He served as the president of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers in 1988. He is currently a trustee of Smith College and the American University of Beirut.

            Among Dr. Wei’s awards are:  Award in Petroleum Chemistry from the American Chemical Society, 1966; Professional Progress Award from American Institute of Chemical Engineers, 1970; Member of the National Academy of Engineering, 1978; William H. Walker Award of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, 1980; Member of American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1982; Member of Academia Sinica, 1982.  He was designated one of thirty “Eminent Chemical Engineers,” at the AIChE Diamond Jubilee Meeting, 1983; and Founders Award of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers for contributions to the profession, 1990.   He was chosen as one of “One Hundred Chemical Engineers of the Modern Era”, at the Centennial Celebration of the AIChE in 2008

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BILLY’S COMMENTS: Jim and I met when we were young college students enthusiastic to befriend others who share similar high aspirations. Uncle Jack’s home was friendly and relaxed. The elders truly encouraged us to strive and to connect. During the past 70+ years, we did not meet that often, but we kept up with each other’s good progress and shared miscellaneoous news of mutual interest. We indeed focused mainly on sustaining “Good Feelings” . We have a GOOD and BEAUTIFUL Friendship, indeed ! Thank you, Jim !

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“LISTEN UP and LEARN SOMETHING” by Emilie Spaulding – October 2020


Emilie Spaulding’s first book, Red Clay Girl is the heartbreaking, hilarious, and tenacious story of a middle child’s journey from small town Georgia to New York City and beyond. When she reaches her unplanned destination, self-acceptance, you’ll shout hallelujah! (Red Clay Girl is available at indie bookstores and on Amazon.com)

Listen Up and Learn Something

In the 1950s, I left the southern United States where neighbors were of English, Scottish, or Irish descent. We followed the same unwritten rules on how to dress, what to eat, and how to behave. As years have passed, wanting to find out more, I began introducing myself to strangers, asking them questions, and they told their life stories. The abbreviated stories below are part of my current project called, Listen Up.

Billy Ming Sing Lee, young Chinese Architect and John Viano, old New Hampshire native collaborated together on our modern house in New Hampshire decades ago. Billy used ancient feng shui techniques to snug in our house among trees, boulders, and mountains at the edge of a lake. Even today, strangers paddling by will stop and exclaim and compliment the beauty of Billy’s and John’s work. Billy, as you know, has graduated from building houses to building friendships among nations.   

Maya Angelo, a stranger, famous poet and guest speaker at Sleepy Hollow Country Club in New York graciously shared with me how she gets the attention of a distracted noisy group of a hundred or so well-to-do guests at a Sleepy Hollow Country Club, New York benefit.  In a change of pace, she tells us how to get others to listen to us.   

Jean Royer, called the blueberry man in Moultonborough, NH, went from being a lonely only child to becoming a pioneer computer wizard with his own company. In his next adventure, he owns a PYO (pick your own) blueberry farm.  With the help of his wife Jeannine he uses opportunity to befriend dozens of strangers from all walks of life as they pick berries in his fields.  

Ken, Supervisor of a Recycling Center in New Hampshire, fondly called the Dump, spreads his cheer talking to hundreds of people daily, even though all seem in a hurry to get on with their lives. He listens to complaints and suggestions and helps out in a myriad of ways. Oh the stories Ken knows…

Dave, a Ship’s Captain in Alaska has a glamorous job where he gives equal attention to the whales, guests, and crew. This debonair man’s loyalty to his childhood sweetheart, now his wife, was touching, and inspiring. Captain Dave listens to port officials, crew members, and ship guests as if they were family.

Sharon Jones, renowned singer from Portsmouth, New Hampshire was often the only Black child in her class. She tells how her mother, her dog, and a doll given her by her teacher helped her get through being ignored by the other kids. She has found her magic singing to people all over the world. Having courage, being entertaining, and caring about strangers are her trademarks.

Edwin, a car salesman in North Carolina got his start selling vacuum systems. He convinced a wizard of the KKK who originally tried to turn him away because of his race, to buy a vacuum cleaning system from him. Edwin has built trust, friendship, and respect with all of his customers – former strangers – but now friends. He works his magic by acts of kindness, thoughtful gifts, and staying in touch.   

Elaine, daughter of the painter portraying Booker T. Washington, founder of Tuskegee Institute, speaks of her, her mother’s, and sisters’ regrets of not being allowed to participate in racial protests and activities. Afraid their father might lose his job, they could only listen, not talk. Their frustration lasted for decades. They have taught me to feel fortunate I have been able to freely communicate and hear other viewpoints.

Conclusion:  Asking, listening, and respecting strangers has changed my life. Before I started this project Listen Up, when I saw an unknown person sitting alone at a party and felt sorry for them, I rushed over to make them feel welcome. I thought I was doing them a favor. Now I know better. Today when I rush over to talk to a stranger, it is to listen to their story, understand them better, and marvel at what I can learn.     

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Billy’s Comments: Emilie wrote me a week ago:  “My second book which I’m 3/4 of the way through is about how much one can learn from listening to strangers who are different from you. Especially the thought that wouldn’t this be a better place if we strangers talked and listened to each other.”  Emilie and husband Dick Spaulding were my architectural clients at first. We are now Dear Old Friends. Dick, btw, lured Emilie from Georgia to New York City. Dick, while at Scholarslic Magazine, also discovered and introduced Harry Potter to the world.

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‘AN ESSAY FOR BILLY’s WEBSITE’ by Cynthia English – October 2020

Cynthia and her young friends


CYNTHIA ENGLISH
FOUNDER – CEO – Chief Happiness Cheerleader GLOBAL SCRIBES : YOUTH UNITING NATIONS® TECHNOLOGY FOR POSITIVE YOUTH IMPACT Support: Youth Uniting Nations® Leveraging innovative technology for positive youth impact, our Scribers develop enlightened respect for humanity and its diversity while discovering their own talents and passions. Our ‘For Youth, By Youth, ALL Youth’ platform, Scribers WorldTM – The Creative Hub for Global Youth – augments formal education and spurs meaningful communication to Create. Connect. Collaborate. inspiring our global youth to become empowered global citizens.

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Forgive me for being late with my submission… the beauty & depth of so many of your stories in Billy’s blog took me to faraway lands in times I will never know but wish to hold in my heart to feel what I just might be able to understand. A different time, different countries, and yet, stories of movement & change, fear & finally, fraternity…stories which continue to occur each day all around our world.  

There is nothing I love more than diverse people, their cultures & our world filled with sights & sounds, smells & textures of ‘different’ mixed in with the clarity of ‘similarities’. Spending my life living, working & traveling across our globe looking through rose-colored glasses since childhood, it was a disjointed moment when I felt a chill of change walking through the Helsinki airport in 2013. I was in one of the safest cities in the world, yet the sense of unease I felt was palpable– perhaps the culmination of a series of borders crossed.  Either way,  It was then I was struck with a vision to help re-direct what I suddenly saw as a backward trajectory to chaos & re-entrenchment happening around the world. With finite space, finite natural resources already stressed in so many places, changing climes (since the beginning of time) and migration for work or safety a continuum, the skills of listening and compromise seemed to be lost or breaking–for a global citizen, ‘regression’ was a sirens call. Compromise must find a way back into global discourse not be discarded. One world perspective needs to find a place. 

The world needs more than a bandaid–we need a long-term solution. I began asking myself questions like, ‘How can we really make ‘unity’ happen?’  ‘Can global peace really ever come to be?’ There are countless organizations working on solutions, indeed, the United Nations has been striving for peace for years. But there is a difference between talking and doing. And, as we all know, trying to change adults is nigh impossible. We are a tough group, non? So, I started thinking about what the world is doing today & where we are going… if my goal is to give more people the opportunity to understand that we are all just people with more similarities than differences…and open doors of possibility…where do we start to build global trust? In my opinion, having global friendships is the beginning of building cross border trust. Breaking generational fears of ‘other’, of ‘different’.  I chose to focus on our global youth. If our future Stewards of Humanity & our Planet can go through life with friends from around the world, they just might pave the way as Youth Uniting Nations toward global care and unity. And when THEY are our household, community, corporate, country and even global leaders, they will bring with them a perspective too few people share today. 

Next question, ‘How do I reach them?’ Technology. In my day as a youth, we had teddy bears, today, that phone in their hand?– their ‘teddy bear’. The thing that gives them a sense of security has a lot of power. 

Then next, ‘What is the foundation of friendship?’ Similar Interests. Working together on projects. Laughter. Empathy. Understanding. Trust. If we remove those elements of adult life which can cause huge rifts between families and countries, we will give the kids a chance to have fun building solid friendships. Then one day, with the security of a solid friendship, the ability to listen and discuss, knowing they can agree to disagree and their friendship will remain strong, subjects like religion and politics can be introduced. 

‘What can we build that will interest 8 – 21 year olds?’ Giving them their own community where ALL youth are invited to participate. No religion. No politics. No segregation. of any kind. A community ‘for youth, by youth, all youth’. No (or few) older adults.
& ‘keep their attention?  It needed to be inline with gaming & FUN!, with the added ability to provide a sense of accomplishment .

 In June of 2014 I founded Global Scribes: Youth Uniting Nations®– Create. Connect. Collaborate. www.globalscribes.org click on GSIM radio their own radio station Scribers built, their YouTube Channel, their Instagram & so much more… See two of our Scribers from Turkey & Qatar on the TEDx red carpet, see their award-winning film ‘Ocean Eyes’ for the Blue Ocean Film Festival, see their interviews & so much more…  With a concept of HAPPINESS, we moved from concept camp to a prototype build out in Jordan, from 16 kids to youth from 46+ countries with no formal marketing. Over 5 steps, ‘Scribers’ (the kids named themselves) write poetry, music lyrics, creative stories or narratives or share their artwork in their native language and in English (the best they can); they prepare ‘selfie’ videos describing their stories or storytelling or play their composition; they create a short film called, ‘The Life I Lead’; they join GSYUN Teams like Science & Nature, Finance, Green Entrepreneur, Newsletter, Bon Appetit & more to discover their own talents & passions & build their self-esteem & efficacy, & lastly; they join a weekly video call to finally meet one another in real time. It is an honour to say we have Scribers who have been participating for 3 – 5+ years– they call GSYUN their ‘second family’.  The place they feel safe. Some have graduated from high school and are in University now. Some are looking for their first job. Some say they never in their lives thought they would know someone from that country, would never have a friend from there, & never in their lives did they know that maybe one day they would travel there. Most say they are happier. They know there is always a Scriber there to listen to them without judgement, to share their fears, tears, failures, triumphs & success. Positive mental health is a keen necessity in these times. They have learned they can do anything by walking through an opened door of possibility.

‘Just an idea’ began to flourish so much I had to pull it back so we can get the next phase of technology in place so we may touch the lives of hundreds of thousands of global youth. The prototype of our Y.U.N. App is built, we need only the last funding to build out the entire App. For Youth, By Youth, ALL Youth. Adding new layers to a simple idea of global friendships. 
Friendshipology is a thriving concept–  I feel so blessed to have met Billy at Stanford when I was there as a GES+ winner…as you might imagine, we have an unbreakable bond. I so hope to meet you all one day… in the meantime, if you would like to know more about GSYUN or how you might help us move forward in connecting our global youth in a safe, healthy & positive way, please connect with me! cynthia@globalscribes.org

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THROUGH COMMUNICATION – INTERACTION; THROUGH INTERACTION – KNOWLEDGE; THROUGH KNOWLEDGE – UNDERSTANDING; UNDERSTANDING ILLUMINATES & ALLOWS US TO CREATE A CLOSER WORLD. This quote by R. Civita is a FOUNDATION of GSYUN

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VITA: Founder and Visionary, Cynthia English spent the first 22 years of her diverse career in the fashion industry traveling worldwide sourcing vendors, managing manufacturing, shopping stores for inspiration and overseeing product design, as well as buying for retail stores, on behalf of some of the largest global fashion brands. She has been responsible for businesses ranging in $volume from $4.0m to $86.0m in sales and/or inventory value. Both a passionate writer at heart-having written her first book at age 8, “Ralph the Mouse”-and an entrepreneur since the age of 21, her creative spirit began to take hold after leaving the corporate world behind. She opened a small interior design company and created great dates™, a concept focused on building closer relationships through shared experience, which targeted multiple platforms including print, television and the internet. great dates™ was picked up by the Hallmark Channel and then subsequently dropped when Crown Media shifted their opening strategy to classic re.runs. Cynthia’s life continues to evolve as she explores cultural interchange in every corner of the globe- from climbing the pyramids of Tikal, Guatemala to inspecting vanilla vines in Bali to being a volunteer in Zambia for Habitat for Humanity to trekking over 800 km solo from St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela, across El Camino, St. James’ Way. In an about-face from her high-glamour fashion roots, she learned how to survive with one change of clothing, the shoes on her feet (and her pink flip-flops), thus opening doors to an entirely new world of adventure brimming with freedom, more privilege, and everyday miracles. Cynthia graduated from the Marshall School, University of Southern California, with a degree in International Finance and Duke University’s Non-Profit Management School. Fortunate to attend the Aspen Writer’s Conference, and Oxford University’s School of Continuing Education for Creative Writing, she learned to champion criticism, stay unique, and to keep striving to be better. Taking inspiration from her many and widely varied adventures, she has had articles published in the United States and Europe, her first thriller novel was published in the United States in 2010 and she is now pursuing her childhood passion-writing and outreach. Cynthia heeds the impassioned plea of a young woman named Honig, whom she met on a train between Budapest and Bucharest–”please, never stop delivering world adventure to those unable to make the journeys themselves.” And to this end, embracing the human dynamics and cultural riches she has known, she perseveres through life’s lessons to provide powerful messages of love, acceptance of different and distinct lives, and preservation of free spirit in all humanity, regardless of origin and culture through the current scaling of Global Scribes: Youth Uniting Nations® the App & web-portal,  Y.U.N. or Scribers World™️  is planned to launch in collaboration with SAP Next Gen and global academic and corporate partners as soon as final funding is found.

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“REWARDING BONDINGS NOT LIMITED BETWEEN HUMANS” by John MY Lee – October 2020

John MY Lee

John Ming Yee Lee is my younger brother by six years. We are both retired Architects and graduates from Yale School of Architecture. He is well known internationally for his design of Citizens’ Center and China Merchants Bank Tower in Shenzen, China. While working with Edward L. Barnes Architects, he designed the IBM Office Tower in NYC and introduced the famous Bamboo Pavilion. The elegant Thurgood Marshall Federal Building in Washington DC bears the Architects names Barnes and Lee, after he became a full partner. John has two sons and two grand daughters. He now resides at Rossmore, a fancy retirement community north of San Francisco.

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‘I want to call your name, but the word dies in my throat. Oh, my friend, my friend.’Those were the final two tear jerking lines in ‘The Friend’ a novel by Sigrid Nunez. The story is about a lady writer who inherited a Great Dane that belonged to her ex-lover who had committed suicide. Early on, it served as a reminder of memories with him. Despite the difficult condition of having another large living body in a tiny NYC studio apartment, the two developed a friendship that she treasured more than the one with her ex-lover. It was not simply  because of the loyalty as expected of a dog. It was its lack of ego and demands and its quick sensitivity to her moods and feelings. A Great Dane’s life span is relatively short as I understand with most large dogs. The dog passed away when they were briefly staying near a beach in the summer to escape the hassles of the Big Apple. 

I finished that novel a short time before Billy asked me to contribute an essay for his Friendship website. I first decided to google the subject. That was a mistake. I was totally intimidated. There are dozens of books dedicated to friends and friendship. I ended up reading only a selection of quotes. 

‘The only way to have a friend is to be one’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson’Friendships between women, as any woman will tell you, are built of a thousand small kindnesses…’ – Michelle Obama. (That applies to men as well.) 

‘A single rose can be my garden,.. a single friend, my world.’ – Leo Buscaglia’I may not always be there with you, but I will always be there for you.’ – Unknown
An overwhelming majority of the quotes seem to imply that friendship is limited to between humans. But I believe that most of our experiences are otherwise.

I now live in a senior community where many would not survive without their bond with their pet friends. And there are so many true touching stories we hear.The retired laborer who lives by himself next to the rocky coast. He found a distressed penguin one day and nursed it back to health. It was released back to the ocean after a few months. Next year around the same time, he was surprised to find the penguin wobbling up to his shack and it was so happy to see the old man. The penguin stayed for a period and went back out to sea. That visit now happens every year. 

On BBC News last week, it showcased a lady living in a high rise befriending a bird. During the lockdown, the lady noticed a bird on and off resting on the window sill. She tried to feed it by hand but it would fly away. So the lady decided to leave the crumbs on the sill. The bird would come and feed on them. After a few days, the lady tried again to feed it with the crumbs in her hand. This time it took. Now that bird would come every day and the lady would pat it on the head and the bird would affectionately peck at her finger in response.

We of course all know about Jane Goodall and her chimpanzee family. 

Of course I am not belittling human friendship. I would not be here today without their help and mentoring. As Ming Wang pointed out in her essay, there are many levels of friendship. But human friendship can also be fickle. My friend Art told me about an incident when he was young and full of himself. He had a crush on a lovely lady and they got together on and off. One day, they went for a drive in his old convertible. With her long hair flowing in the wind, Art was totally entranced. Words poured out of his mouth how he had a crush on her and how absolutely gorgeous she was. She stayed quiet throughout with a slight smile. When they got back, she turned and told him that she would not ever want to see him again!

At any rate I am writing this because I believe that far too often we have forgotten that we too are part of the animal world. There can be rewarding bonding not limited between humans.

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“KEEPING IN TOUCH WITH FRIENDS” by Yuelin Yang – October 2020

Yuelin Yang

Mr Yang has been with IMC since 1995 and has held various senior appointments. Prior to joining IMC, Mr Yang was a member of Office of the Chairman Stan Shih and Associate General Counsel at Acer Computers in San Jose, California and Taipei, Taiwan. He started his career practising law in Silicon Valley at the Cooley Godward and Brobeck Phleger law firms.

Mr Yang is on the board of Directors for the Asian investment company of Verlinvest, NUS (National University of Singapore) Business School’s Centre for Governance, Institutions & Organisations.  He also is on the Council of Asian Corporate Governance Association (Hong Kong), and

Mr Yang received a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from Stanford University and a JD from Stanford Law School.

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Born in New York City, I grew up in Davis, California.  I then lived in the Bay Area for several years attending university and law school and then practicing law.  In 1995, I moved to Hong Kong and then to Singapore after I met and married my wife there.   I work in a family business which was founded by my grandfather and does shipping & logistics.

I was honoured by Billy to ask to write this for his blog.  I first met Billy in 1984 on the tennis courts (where else would he be! ) when I was in law school.  His hearty laugh and fun loving nature enticed me to join FF Fraternity where Billy is active and one of the most respected senior brothers.

Needless to say, the year 2020 has been full of surprises.  COVID.  Black Lives Matters.  California forest fires.  The Presidential election. 

From Singapore, I try to follow what is going on in the USA both for work and personal interest. 

My working hypothesis is that the COVID virus has exposed and in some cases accelerated systemic issues and trends developed over the last 30 – 40 years of:

·   a rise in inequality in terms of race, income and opportunity

·   over indebtedness

·   short-termism

·   climate change

·   digital economy

·   an increasingly polarized population, and

·   the shift from West to East which is impacting geopolitics

With staying at home more these days, there is a lot more time to think about these topics. Whether turning on the TV,  listening to webinars and reading the newspapers, it can be information overload and lead to feelings of negative emotions and uncertainty as to what is real or fake news.

For the situation in the USA, I have been away from the USA since 1995.   Although I do go back a few times a year until this year, I still feel not as in touch.  The America today seems very different than the one back in 1995.  What has helped me a lot in the last 6 months has been frequent calls with friends and relatives in the USA.

When Black lives matters protests in Minneapolis first happened, a cousin in the Bay Area told me that there were similar protests in small towns across America.  That told me it was really widespread.  Then there was the reporting on the protests in Portland.  I spoke with a college friend who is from there and whose parents and adult children live there.  He said the protests were taking place in an area of a few blocks by few blocks and not so widespread.  Very different than what I saw or read in some of the media.

With time at home to read more, I started paying much more attention to climate change.  To understand it better, I had calls with a friend from FF Fraternity who has been active in climate change for over a decade.  I told him I wish I had the foresight like he did.  Not only does climate change affect our business but one of the California fires this summer got to Vacaville which is only 20 miles from Davis where my mother, brother and his wife are.

I have regular weekly calls with a group of friends from a non-profit organization where we have been active for 20+ years.   The group covers the political spectrum.  We have good discussions especially on the US Presidential election.  Amongst friends, we are able to discuss and respect each other’s opinions even though we sometimes have to agree to disagree.   Though we have known each other for 20+ years meeting a few times a year, I feel we have gotten to know each other more during these calls.  A silver lining to sheltering at home.

I speak weekly with my roommate from law school.  He is very well-read and stays on top of current events.  He also is a full-time arbitrator so makes his living by listening to both sides and then making the call.  Putting aside his political leanings, he is able to get to the heart of the matters and explain both sides to me in a much more objective say than FOX and CNN.

I speak regularly with some college friends.  This really helps to uplift my emotions as we remember the good old days including on my last trip to the USA last October.  And to look forward to more in the future when we can travel again.  Our conversations range from politics to college and professional sports. 

I also speak frequently with a friend who is a former law firm colleague.  We were both young associates together back in the day.    We bonded over that experience as well as playing basketball and sports in general.   I have always valued his opinion as he calls it like it is.   He and his wife are both very civic minded so we also talk about what is happening in US society.

The FF Fraternity that Billy recruited me into has regular zoom get togethers.  Some of it is social where its great to see familiar faces on Hollywood Squares on the zoom screen.  And others cover serious topics where there are particular brothers who are subject matter experts.  One of them was why there are so few Asian-American CEO’s at US companies.  With the current US-China situation, it is a very sensitive time for Asian-Americans.  I do not feel it living in Singapore but learn a lot about this from my FF brothers.

The virus has prevented seeing friends in person.  But now that many of us are staying at home more, including not going on business trips, I have found more opportunities to talk more and more deeply with friends.  They have been a real intellectual and emotional support.   Still, I cannot wait to be able to travel to the USA and see them in person again.

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Billy’s Comments: Yuelin is one of my favorite younger friends, for indeed he nurtures our Friendship by visiting me and Lucille every time he comes back to the Silicon Valley for business. Yuelin, Lucille and I deeply appreciate that ! Thank you for Keeping In Touch!

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Voo Ming Hsien Responded to Billy w/ Thoughts on Friendship – Oct. 5, 2020

Voo Ming Hsien 武明賢 married Wang Yung thus became Ming Wang

Rumor had it that Voo Family in Ting Hai,  定海  (the small island right off  NingPo 寧波) is descendant of  Wu/Voo Zetian 武則天.  Empress Voo was known for her nepotism.  When she died, members of her family were thrown out; one branch got exiled as far South as Ting Hai 定海, where land ends at the ocean.  
Descendants of families in NingPo 寧波, Zhoushan City 舟山市, and Ting Hai,  定海 ; all seem to have done OK.

MW 2012 Wang family Holidaycards  reduced 2020.jpg
Hello Billy,

I’ve been thinking a lot about Friendship; much thought but not knowing how to put into words.
After reading the recitations on your website, I am much enlightened by others who have put into words so eloquently and effectively of my many wanderings.

Amy Chua (author of Tiger Mother) wrote on “Political Tribes”.  She reminds me that those of us who left our own countries, but carry with us much of our tribalism; myself indeed.  I always remember the Chinese folktale of how men become life long “bosom buddies”,“知友” (zhī yǒu),  enjoying glass of wine in a pavilion, writing poetry, or jumping to the rescue of his friend in need.  Such friendship is to be worshipped and treasured.  Did we, in China, have resentment towards “gay”?   I wonder?  Also, was such “bosom buddies” experiences enjoyed by men ONLY?  

At my advancing age, I look back and find friends of many levels – acquaintances, business associates, casual friends and bosom buddies.   A bosom buddy “知友” (zhī yǒu), is someone of kindred spirit. Someone you can exchange ideas, agree-to-disagree dialogs in gaining new perspectives, and such.  

Upon reviewing several definitions of friendship,  “Respect” pops up to me as a very significant element. For me, my bosom buddies do not relate to age, wealth, nor profession.  In my younger days, my friends were older and related to me more like my mentors, guiding me, helping me to understand without being preachy. 

I used to believe “知友” (zhī yǒu) is more of an Asian heritage.  Fortunate for me, aside from a Chinese couple who took on the role of mentors when I first came to NY,  I had a Jewish business partner/friend for some 30 years.  At some business negotiation, the opposite side asked him why he worked so hard obviously defending and guiding me. My partner answered: she is my sister.  His wife was also my bosom friend, helped and guided me every step along the way with my bringing up an Autistic child.  He died of a heart attack in his 50’s, and she died 8 years ago.  

My next business partner/friend for some 20 years was an Irish lawyer.  Again, we were able to have exchanges of intellectual as well as trivial discourses.  He passed away a few years ago.

From that era, I have remaining “知友” (zhī yǒu) – John Lee; Billy’s brother, who was at Yale Architecture School the same time with my husband Yung and myself.  Although we are now thousands of miles apart, we are in touch via internet.  He is also friend of Yung, but he and I exchange emails more often, on subjects from international affairs to cats and dogs.  We are friends of some 60+ years and continuing.

Yung teases me of being a “busy body”, others labeled me a “people person”.

Now I have friends of younger age.  I thrive at how they share willingly with me their dreams and goals.   I respect their intellect, creativity, and fantasies.   They accept my “2 cents” worth knowledge and advices.  They keep me feeling alive. 

At my age, I horde my friends as my treasures.

By the way, Billy, am I the 1st woman participant for your web page?    Best,   Ming 武明賢

p.s.  A brief auto-bio – Came to US before I graduated from McTyeire high school in Shanghai. Graduated with BA from U of Wisc.  Came to NYC – worked as assistant to Vogue Feature Editor Allene Talmey;  attended Cooper Union arch. evening school; attended & graduated from Yale Arch 1962.  After Yale, form Hsien Inc. as president, in real estate; and maintained independent arch practice.  Now, retired with son & daughter, grand son and grand daughter; and dogs and cat, and shamelessly bragging about having all my kids under the same roof – a typical, Chinese family compound.

p.p.s.  Your brother John lived here with us for a few years too

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“Language, Assumption, and Empowerment” by Rushton Hurley – October, 2020

Rushton Hurley


“I can’t believe you said that!”

Have you ever had that as an angry response to something you said? If so, did it immediately occur to you that the other person had heard what you said, but not at all what you meant?

Friends (and patient people of all types) tend to respond to tough moments with questions rather than statements.

“Are you saying…?”

That is a move that shows a willingness to be humble (we don’t always understand what people are saying), and a caring for the other (we want the other person to know we won’t jump to problematic assumptions).

It’s a simple thing, but can do much to strengthen relationships.

Another way to look at “I can’t believe you said that!”, though, is to consider a scenario in which someone has just been blown away that you were able to say something in another language that the listener wouldn’t have guessed you could.

Everyone understands that a prerequisite for human friendship is some ability to communicate, and typically by language. 

If we look at learning another language (Mandarin for English speakers, or vice-versa) as a good example, one might consider what it means to make the leap.

Two years ago I began studying Mandarin using YouTube videos, podcasts, and the free Duolingo app. I was intrigued by the challenge of learning another language for free, and as I already am pretty good at Japanese, I figured the characters wouldn’t be an impossible barrier to overcome.

Fast forward to now, and I’ve had a blast picking up things I can try out with my Mandarin-speaking friends. They encourage me, and their smiles when I get the tones right is something I treasure.

The effort is something that strengthens my relationships, and gives me a feeling of empowerment. What will I try saying when I see my friends next?

Whatever it is that helps you develop more patience and empowers you, give it your time. It might serve as a new avenue for strengthening your friendships.

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Rushton Hurley is a former high school teacher, former principal of an online high school, program director at the Krause Center for Innovation, and founder and executive director of the educational nonprofit NextVista.org. Rushton has spoken to and trained over 100,000 teachers and school leaders around the world over the last decade, on topics such as professional development, school improvement, change strategies, staff morale, promotion in the community, and getting the best out of students and teachers. 

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GEORGE DEPAI KAN TREASURES THESE AMAZING PARTING WORDS from his HIGH SCLOOL BUDDIES when he was leaving Kunming for HongKong in 1953

George DePai Kan

德培弟: 我们的友情是建筑在日复一日堆积起来的互相了解上,自从得到了你走的消息我的一切都不能正常了,在这种茫然的情感下叫我说什么呢?好,还是按照你说的写些有用的。 (一)不要認為一定要十全十美的人才能做朋友。當然每個人都有他的好處和壞處。你學他的好處感化他的壞處,不就行了嗎?(二)人不應該做不正當的事,即便他是我最好你朋友,如果他做了錯事,我也不放鬆他。(三)不應該總說人家的缺點,而應當將你所知道你告訴他。(四)不要太自信、太驕傲,比如下棋吧,如果對手是個新認識你的人,不妨輸給他兩局阿甘以上都是你跟我說過的話,我覺得這很寶貴,人的一生中又能聽見幾回這些忠實坦白的勸告呢?還有很多有價值的言語,我一時也想不起來。就這幾句話讓我們共同勉勵吧

Brother Depai: Our friendship is built on the mutual understanding that has been piling up day after day. Since I got the news that you are leaving, everything about me feels not normal. What can I say under this dazed emotion?  Okay, you ask that I write something useful ! (1) Don’t think that we must be perfect people to be friends. Of course, everyone has his strengths and weaknesses. We can learn from the others’ strength and help mend the other’s weaknesses. Should we not do that ?  (2) People should not do improper things. Even if our best friend does something wrong, we can not just relax him. (3) We should not always talk about other people’s shortcomings, but should tell them what we know. (4) Don’t be too confident or too proud. For example, in playing chess. If your opponent is someone new to you, be willing to lose a few games to him. 
The above, Depai, are all the things you have told me. I think they are truly precious. How many times can people hear such honest and frank advice in their lives? There are many more valuable words I do not remember. “Write something useful” you say. Okay, let us encourage each other at least with these few words.

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德培弟:
你去香港的消息使我憂鬱到現在。同學至今,我們有說不出來的感情。你還記得我們一起說笑的情景嗎?你還記得我們在一起打球,在一起讀書的快樂嗎?你可發現了我們是快樂的人嗎?

現在你要去了,你的離去好像我們失去了火一樣,想起了人類沒有火的痛苦,是不知如何來形容的。你去了,將使我不如從前一樣的愉快;從此,我也少了一個共同研究學問的同志了。我現在有一個希望,就是能到香港去再和你共同學習。同享受那無限度的快活生涯。啊!阿甘!你等著我,我會到香港去找你的。

現在,來講幾句我們能互相勉勵的話:你是一個天真活潑的孩子,在你腦中充滿了正義,你是智慧絕頂的。你好活動,這使你交結了許多好友。人們似乎都願親近你。這都是你的好處,也就是你的成功的因素。望能保留下去。

你也有缺點。你常說人不應該太高傲,太自信。這是?痴可指的。但你卻常過於太不自信了。當然太自信是不好的,但如太不自信了,也是同樣的不好。一個偉人的成功可說是出於他的自信心的調和。他能處事於自信而心虛的態度,這就是他所以能出人一頭的原因。憑你的聰明,能克服所有的難。切不要失掉你的自信心。

希望你永遠快樂並且健康

Brother Depai: The news that you are going to Hong Kong makes me sad.  Classmates for so many years, we have unspeakable feelings. Do you remember us talking and laughing together? Do you remember the joy of playing ball and reading together? Did you find that we were the happiest people? Now you are going. You are leaving us lost without fire. Know the pain of human beings without fire. I don’t know how to describe it. Your going will make me less happy than before. I have now lost a comrade with whom I pursued knowledge together. I now only hope that I can go to Hong Kong and learn with you again. Together enjoy the infinite joyous life. Ah! A-Kan! Wait for me, and I will go to Hong Kong to find you.

Now, here are a few words that we can encourage each other: You are an innocent and lively youth, full of justice in your mind, and you are extremely smart. You are friendly and sociable. People seem to want to be close to you. This is your benefit and your success factor. Hope you keep it. You also have shortcomings. You often say that people should not be too arrogant or too confident. This is idiotic. Often you seemed to be lacking self-confidence. Of course it is not good to be overly confident, but it is also not good to appear lacking in confidence. A great man’s success is due to his ability to balance self- confidence with humility. Thus he will stand out. With your smartness, you can overcome all difficulties. Don’t lose your self confidence. 

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德培友,你的走訊來得太突然了我沒料到我們同學數年卻會半途暫別。數年來,我們一起學習一起遊玩,剛0到了互相了解的時候,命運又把我們應硬生生地拉開.你可還記我們曾一起嘻笑,一起打球,一起習作的快樂嗎?這將是一個最美的回憶。願你別把它忘了。

你的走,使我的心受了一個不小的打擊。我意識到今後我所有的中學時代中將少了一位共同研究的好友。我心目中感到無限的空虛茫然。在這本小冊子上我又能寫些什麼給你呢?
你的走使我羨慕,因為你能先我走出這狹小的山國去接觸更寬廣的人生。我羨慕你能看到那變幻無端的海洋。可是要注意:越是文明的地方罪惡也越多。望你步步小心,著著防備。當心墮入了深淵,將反悔不及你是我所遇到的人們中最聰明的一個,希望你正常的利用你的智慧充實自己的身心,切不要聰明反被聰明誤。你有一顆善良的心及和靄的態度。任何人你都能相處的很好,這是你值得令人佩服的地方。你也有缺點:你缺乏自信心。當然人太自信了是不好的.可是不太自信是更不好。[有志者事竟成]這是一句千古名言,對自己失去信心的人將來會是一無所成。這是很危險的,望你能改過。還有你對於小事不太注意,比如說人家托你做一點事情,而你常常會把它忘掉。這雖是小事可是會影響你的信用,望你注意。

DePai, My Friend,  Your news came too suddenly. I didn’t expect our normalcy be disrupted like this.  For several years, we have learnt and played together, and then we got to know each other. Now fate pulls us apart so abruptly. Do you remember the joy of laughing together, playing ball, and studying together? This will be our most beautiful memory. I hope you don’t forget it.

Your leaving causes a big blow to my heart. I realize that I will lose a friend with whom I have studied together thtough out my middle school years,  . I feel infinite emptiness in my mind, now. What can I write for you in this booklet?

Your parting makes me envious, because you will be first to leave this small mountain country to come into contact with a broader life. I envy you that you can see the unprovoked ocean. But be careful: the more civilized the place, the more evil it maybe. I hope you will be careful every step and be on guard. When you fall into the abyss, I will regret that you are the smartest of the people I have met. I hope you can use your wisdom to enrich your body and mind. Don’t be smart and mistaken. You have a kind heart and a gentle attitude. You can get along well with anyone, and this is your admirable trait. You also have shortcomings: you lack self-confidence. Of course, it is not good for people to be too confident. But it is even worse if they are not self-confident.  There is a well-known saying that “ people who lose confidence in themselves will not be able to accomplish anything in the future.” That’s dangerous, I hope you can correct that. Also, you don’t pay enough attention to small things. For example, someone asked you to do something, and you often forgot to do it. Although this is a trivial matter, it will affect your credibility. I hope you will pay attention.

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GEORGE KAN’s Brief Bio :

I was born in China.  We as a family lived in Hong Kong when the Second World War started. We went into China in 1942, staying in Guilin and Kunming until 1949.  We came back to Hong Kong in 1949, and went to the United States in 1951.  I went to Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute for my undergraduate and M.I.T. for my graduated school.  I became a Christian while I was in M.I.T.

My objective in life is to serve Jesus Christ in whatever ways God leads me. Lately it is the distribution of good music with a message through the Internet. God has also provided me with the means to fund His work through a charitable trust.

Seventeen years ago, when I was 70 years old, I thought that my life was going to end.  I came to this conclusion because in Psalm 90, a psalm written by Moses.  He said that a man’s life is about seventy, but if he is strong, eighty.  I thought that since I was not strong, that was my life. Thank God He has given me seventeen more years to live.

I was married to Sylvia Fong in 1961. We have four children, Elizabeth, Sarah, Paul, and Samuel. Thank God they are all Christians.

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BILLY’S COMMENTS :

George and I have been friends for nearly 60 years. I remember him trying to introduce me to Christ in the early 1960s by taking me to listen to the famous Billy Graham at the NYC’s Madison Square Garden. Despite of George’s continuing efforts, I have remained an Agnostic with a touch of Buddhist attitude. Only recently, we discovered that we have a very different take on Donald Trump, but we, indeed, still have deep respect and affection for each other. I asked Geoege for permission to post these precious PARTING WORDS from his old high school mates on this special Friendship website. He said “YES” without hesitation. BTW, this tradition of asking friends to write a few meaningful Parting Words is so good for validating, enhancing, and forever sustaining GOOD FEEELINGS among Friends. We should encourage that as a global tradition, indeed ! Thanks, George !

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PLEASE CONTRIBUTE AN ARTICLE TO MY FRIENDSHIPOLOGY WEBSITE – Billy Lee – WilliamMSLee@gmail.com – Sept. 2020

Billy and a picture of Kwan Ying

I joined the USCPFA-S.Bay Chapter in 2006, and was elected Membership Director in 2012.  That started my serious inquiry on what Friendship really means, and how it can be initiated, nurtured, sustained, and maybe recovered after some gross misunderstanding.  I started to do some research by reading books and by Googling.

I also wrote a few articles which were published in Women of China magazine, as well as Voice of Friendship, a publication by China Friendship Foundation for Peace and Development. I was particularly interested in promoting Home Stays in Building Cross-cultural Bonding.

In  2015, I was invited to conduct a workshop on “Good Feelings” at the ICAF World Children’s Festival on the Great Mall In Washington DC,  on a July 4 weekend.  There sprouted the idea on guiding a group of International  students to Define Friendship, Write an Declaration of Interdependence, and Propose an Ideal  Cross-cultural Institute on Friendshipolgy.

An amazing opportunity to start a project that may eventually lead to the Ultimate Ideal  was a proposal to connect Stanford University’s and Peking University’s psychology departments to do a 3-year joint research project at both ends of the Pacific. The study was named “ The Role of Emotional Values and Expression in the Development of Cross-Cultural Friendships in the US and China “ Our hope was this would initiate a Momentum towards Global Engagement  subsequently. I like to take this opportunity here to thank publicly, Prof. Jean Oi ( Director of Stanford Center at Peking University ), Dr. Jennifer Choo ( Assoc. Director at Stanford University’s Walter Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center),  and Prof. Jeanne Tsai ( Director of  Emotion Lab. at Stanford’s Department of Psychology ) for their tremendous efforts.

Although that proposal fizzled due to fund-raising difficulty, my dear 1990 Institute colleague. Dr. Marsha  Vande Berg, advised me to keep telling this story to my friends – To keep the Idea alive !   Surprise !  Out of the Blue, a young friend, Yi-lu from Beijing, wrote to me and said she had set up a website https://MingSingLee.com  ( recently changed to https://Friendshipology.net ), and had recruited three other young friends ( Yihua, Wenmo, and Tingting ) to help me promote FRiendship and to manage this bilingual website.  She said that she was moved by one of my articles stressing “ Not to judge people too harshly and absolutely. Try to cultivate others’ Good Qualities and Goodness, as well as our own. “. I started first to post a few of my own articles onto the website but very wisely decided later to involve many of my close friends.

Yesterday marked the first anniversary of this Friendshipology  website, and the week before I started to review all the 77 articles I had so far collected – to examine ‘What Lessons Learned and What’s still Needed .  Thanks to all of my friends who have so generously given their time to support this effort,  I myself learned quite a lot from these friends on various aspects of Friendship and Friendshipology.  Most importantly I feel that our friendships have deepened from this sharing, and I am truly happy and grateful. I am also glad that I was able to connect a few friends who apparently share same high aspirations. I hope that they will be able to collaborate together when opportunities allow.

From the review I noticed that several friends focused on Gratefulness in Receiving and Gratification in Giving , few on how best to treat people, one was angry and unforgiving, and another Critical of Society and Cynical.  Most covered the rosy aspects. I will indeed welcome more stories on awkward situations, recovered or not recovered, or just thoughts on how it might be recovered. I welcome more descriptions on specific, big or small, kind or thoughtless, deeds which I think younger people can readily learn something immediately useful.  I welcome more stories on how Community Spirit effects Individuals and how Individuals can effect the larger Community.  Stories on Connecting and Helping others to Connect will be most helpful. Can we learn more from each other about, Attitudes, Listening, Timing, To say the right words or When to be silent, etc. etc. ?  I am hoping to collect more Case Study type examples that can be ”Inspirational” and/or “Educational” or “Provocative with Good Effects”, and Ideas on how to set up the proper environment or activities etc. to induce Friendship, Bonding , and Good Feelings.

Please participate in this effort and share your knowledge, experience, and ideas on this Friendshipology website.  I can be reached at WilliamMSLee@gmail.com. With your article, please provide a short vita and at least one of your favorite photos.

Thank you ! 

Gratefully yours,

William ( Billy ) Ming Sing Lee 李名信 ( 88 yr-old retired Architect ) 271 West Floresta Way, Portola Valley, Ca. 94028, U.S.A.

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A Short Essay on Friendship & Poker by Sunny Tong – September 2020

Sunny Tong

When Billy asked me to write about “friendship and poker”, something Warren Buffett has said immediately popped into mind.  Buffett has offered this advice on friendship for years, “You will move in the direction of the people that you associate with.  The friends you have will form you as you go through life. Make some good friends, keep them for the rest of your life, but have them be people that you admire as well as like.”

“So it is important to associate with people that are better than yourself.”

Much on friendship has already been shared on Billy and the World.  It is rather imposing when asked to contribute to a platform with a stated mission “Search for Essence in Knowledge and Goodness”.

The Essence:

Friendship with peers better than yourself sounds great if it does not involve poker.  Poker is all about winning your hand, friendship with better poker players is great in concept but terrible in execution. 

Another widely quoted Buffett, “Price is what you pay, value is what you get.”  For investment, this is great insight for those seeking value-oriented long-term investment.   For poker, “Multiple buy-ins are what you pay, low self-esteem is what you get” when you are up against better players, especially if with friends. 

Bottom line, friendship and poker do not mix well.

Knowledge & Goodness:  

Knowledge and Skill are overrated.  Thank goodness there is an element of luck in poker.  Treasure luck over skill any day, any time and with that friendship still stands a chance.

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Sunny Tong is retired .

He stopped playing tennis for 15 years and is now playing catch up for lost time.  Tennis four days each week is great if the head, shoulder and knee all cooperate.  Monday is always slow, take until Wed to warm up and by Friday it’s time to go easy and relax.  The cycle repeats.

His profession as a real estate developer came late but sweet while it lasted.  Nothing perfect, but at the  least was conducted like a symphony, as it should be for any complicated project to be successful. 

The work force multifamily housing project as a public/private partnership in San Mateo is a first for the City.  The technology office/residential campus at the BART mass-transit station is a first for the City of San Leandro.  The entitlement and adaptive reuse of a blight neighborhood center into school for the Foster City San Mateo School District is a first for Foster City.  Demographic data mining and use of geographic information systems in real estate analytic is pioneering and ahead of its time and popularity.  Last to be mentioned but most proud of is the acquisition and installation of the 55 foot Burning Man sculpture “Truth Is Beauty” at the tech campus. 

http://www.marcocochranesculpture.net/truth-is-beauty

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