By Billy Lee, June 2012

Staying overnight for one evening, a weekend, one week, one month, or even one entire year, as a foreign student or visitor at a host country’s home is what we referred to as Home Stay.

Earlier in April I wrote an article on HOME STAYS, and it was published by All China Women’s Federation’s WOMEN OF CHINA magazine.  I mentioned that Mr. and Mrs. Robert King from my neighborhood generously contributed US $150 Million to Stanford University’s Business School to come up with innovative ways to alleviate poverty in developing countries. The Kings said their contribution was inspired by their having provided home stays for foreign students at Stanford during the past 40 years.  I also mentioned that China’s Vice President, Xi JingPing, specifically requested to revisit his home stay hosts in Iowa from 27 years ago, during his 4 days in the U.S.- primarily to meet with President Obama. These two incidents showed me how magical and powerful Home Stays can effect the people involved (both the giving side as well as the receiving side ). What a natural way to build cross-cultural friendships! This brings back my own sweet memories of home stays I’ve enjoyed in the U.S. when I came at the age of 15, from Shanghai, China to attend Phillips Academy Andover, and later Yale University. My immense gratitude inspires me to want to advocate Home Stays across the ocean. Today, as more foreign students will be visiting China, I would like to encourage more Chinese families to offer home stays and learn to become wonderful hosts and be forever remembered as generous, caring and joyful FRIENDS.

I hope this article will be read by the general public in China, because cross-cultural friendships, depends on people’s willingness to engage with trust, openness, as well as thoughtfulness. It requires hopefulness, courage, and commitment. I know the Chinese people on a whole are very warm-hearted and friendly, but many are still shy and modest, and not used to opening their homes to people they do not know well. However, the Chinese people can also adjust very quickly to modern  practices and realities. They as a people may be the easiest to befriend, and the most loyal and trust-worthy long-term-friends people in the world can have.  

I hope that this article will also be read by people who are already in position to promote and  facilitate cross-cultural education and understanding – directors and staffs at international-affairs offices, whether in government or academic institutions . They can  learn much from  other countries’ successful or failed experiences. It is not only important to learn the WHYs for promoting HOME STAYs, but also the subtleties in the HOWs, WHENs, and WHEREs, etc..  Personally, I hope that our ultimate goal is to achieve Joyful and Sustainable Cross-Cultural Friendship and Bonding- void of Fear and Suspicion and beyond just gaining personal “Knowledge” and so-called “Understanding”.

I also hope that Chinese social scientists will take up serious studies on “How Home Stays best be conducted In China today? ”,  “How the Chinese can learn to be good Home Stay hosts ? ”, and perhaps in collaborations with foreign colleagues tackle: “What are the responsibilities of the Agencies who arranges Home Stays for profit”, and “How foreign students can prepare themselves to be truly delightful guests ? “. I have actually started to do my own quickie amateur research on this subject , and have gathered the following information to share with my friends in China. The following HOME STAY programs are worthy of careful scrutiny :

AFS ( American Field Service www.afsonline.org )
SYA ( School Year Abroad  www.sya.org )
CCIS ( Community Committee for International Students at Stanford University’s Bechtel International Center www.ccisStanfordU.org )
TRU World ( Thompson River University, Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada www.truworld.ca/truworld.html )
FFI ( Friendship Force International www.theFriendshipForce.org)

AFS – connecting lives and sharing cultures towards a more just and peaceful world -focuses on public high school students – inbound and outbound. It is partially funded by the U.S. State Department to promote goodwill globally but it is serviced largely by a network of  kind-hearted volunteers worldwide. With over 60 years of international-exchange experience and continuously improved programs, it may be the most valued and reputable high school student exchange organization in the world. Today, AFS-USA sends approximately 1,400 participants abroad and welcomes 2,500 international high school exchange students to the United States each year. AFS – International Network exchanges more than 12,000 students each year in more than 90 AFS partner countries. A network of over 400,000 AFS alumni now lives in more than 75 countries. All of this work depends on the dedicated support of over 40,000 AFS Volunteers worldwide.

A systemic approach has been developed, covering: Inbound ( Hosting ) and Outbound  (Sending)  Programs, Volunteers and Staff Recruitment &Training, Overall Organizing process to integrate ideas and  suggestions from the National Volunteer Assembly with that of the Board – the policy-making body. They have developed excellent manuals to assist the volunteers and participants. Frequent local training and social gatherings are scheduled to keep up the volunteer spirit and to continue the educational process.  Professional staffs and expertise are also made available for necessary Support Services. Most of the info I gathered above can be accessed from  www.afspedia.org . I attended a full-day regional gathering in the S.F. Bay Area recently. Participants that day included 20 some volunteers, Home Stay hosts, and liaison persons, three cheerful young foreign students, two regional coordinators who were fantastic motivational speakers, one Fund-Raising Consultant, and one appeared to be a Lawyer/Child-psychologist. The meeting was most informative and educational. The spirit was genuinely upbeat !

I also learned that a Sister-school exchange program between U.S. and China has been coordinated by AFS and the Chinese Ministry of Education.  Darien Connecticut High School is one of the seven schools participating from the U.S. ( Darien is where I had HOME STAY for one whole summer in the 1950s  at the home of my Yale roommate, David Gregg III.)  Darien H.S.’s website  www.DarienPS.org/USChinaExchange/ records memorable photographs, and reflective essays  provided by students and faculty members about their China experiences at Shanghai’s No. 3 Girl School and Qing Dao’s No. 58 H.S.. It showed that HOME STAYs have definitely left strong impressions.

SYA was founded in 1964 by Phillips Academy Andover, my proud alma mater, together with Phillips Academy Exeter and Saint Paul.  It presently involves about 42 top Independent Schools across the United States as a consortium and sends about 60 secondary-level students from both public and private high schools each year to the following countries: China, France, Italy, Spain, and Vietnam. It has about 7,000 alumni who have all gained an open-minded perspective about the world, mastered a specific foreign Language, and gained a deeper understanding and appreciation of the People and Culture of the country they visited. Home Stay is an important part of the SYA program. The interacting of the visiting students with the host families have strongly influenced the students during their critical period of character-development and shaped their long-term attitudes, behaviors, and perspectives. The program is especially attractive since it is taught by an exceptionally high level faculty staff from the US and locally, and the year abroad or one SYA summer will award them special credits towards college applications.

SYA’s China partner is the highly reputable Beijing Normal University High School No. 2 . One of SYA’s most important challenges in China was choosing an appropriate partner. It must have high academic standards, suitable location, and the ability to introduce ideal host families. How to match up the visiting students to the host families requires valuable experience and good judgment. Any first mismatch must be quickly remedied.

I just corresponded with Clare Randt, daughter of US Ambassador emeritus Clark Randt and Da Shi Tai Tai , Sarah Randt. Clare is  presently a student at Yale and enrolled in the special PKU-Yale program in Beijing.  When she was a high school student she actually did the SYA program and lived with a family which has a child also studying at Beijing Normal University High School No. 2 . “ Living with a family in Beijing was by far the best thing for my Chinese” Clare said. “The best experiences with my host family were those times I was just sitting in the living room talking with my host grandma about her younger days. A memorable occasion was joining my host family during Chinese New Years when they went back to their hometown in Hunan province. We set off fireworks, received hongbao, visited other relatives, and ate a lot of good food .  Whenever I came home from school I’d speak with my host sister and host grandma. They’d help me with my homework, take me on outings, teach me how to cook, explain to me what was going on in the TV programs they were watching etc. A really fun and funny time was just last winter break when my boyfriend visited Beijing and I got to introduce them. My host father kept telling my boyfriend how wonderful I was and what a lucky lucky fellow he was.  I have no negative things to say about my host family. My living space was comfortable and the host family was very welcoming. I visited them a couple of times when I was back in Beijing this school year, and they were super friendly and happy to see me. I know that not all home-stay experiences were as successful as mine. I was very fortunate to have such a great family. I was a perfect fit .”

CCIS,  was referred to me by Dottie King ( Mrs. Robert King, mentioned at the very beginning of this article.) The Community Committee for International Students is a volunteer group, established in 1953, which works closely with the staff of the Bechtel International Center at Stanford University. It provides outstanding services for international students, senior research scholars and their family members during their stay at Stanford. Currently, nearly 4,000. International students and scholars attend Stanford, and the largest block of foreign students are from China in recent years . Volunteer members of CCIS welcome new foreign students as they arrive in the area, make the visitors feel comfortable, help them get settled, and through person to person friendship help  promote good will and understanding.

I had the pleasure of having lunch with Mrs. Karen McNay who is presently the volunteer Director of their HOME STAY program, and Vice President of CCIS.  She was so proud of the fact that her mother volunteered for CCIS before her, and she told me that although the foreign students live with a host family for only a 3-5 day period prior to Stanford registration, the pre-matching of the students to the hosts is processed  very very carefully, and  then the volunteer Community Advisors provide the students a thorough Orientation.  Most important for building long lasting relationship, she said, is the follow-up and getting together on a regular basis thru out the years.  Mrs. McNay showed me a simple and rather informal two-page HOMESTAY GUIDELINES FOR HOST FAMILIES. It was basically a list of tips on how to avoid possible misunderstandings, and how to make the visitors feeling instantly comfortable and happy to have arrived at Stanford. First impressions are especially important, she suggested.

CCIS offers quite a few other related programs. The one that interested me most is called ENGLISH IN ACTION – a weekly hour of conversation in English offered on a one to one basis between a CCSI volunteer and a foreign student. Several of my friends in the neighborhood have participated as volunteer tutors. Deep personal bonding results from this kind of unique shared experience. I know well the feeling of gratitude from the receiving end, but I am truly surprised and impressed by the satisfaction and inspiration Mr. & Mrs. Robert King claimed they received from their four decades of serving as Home Stay parents.

The TRU Home Stay Program and Host Family Guide appears to be a very well thought-thru document. Indeed, it might have been prepared by knowledgeable social scientists, for some of the language or terms used are Technical and Professional.

 The index reflects it’s thoroughness. See below:

What is the Homestay Program?
Who are the Students?
The Pros and Cons of Hosting, Benefits and Potential challenges
Finances and Obligations: Rent/Fees, Family Vacations, Student Vacation, Restaurants, Transportation, Chores, Religion, Celebrations.
Preparing for Arrival: Household, Meeting the First Time, House Rules, Practical Considerations, Cigarettes and Alcohol.
International Student Challenges: Culture Shock, Culture Shock and Host Family Relations, Language Issues.
A Crash Course in Culture The Cultural Iceberg, Some Perception and Values that Differentiate Cultures.
Intercultural Communication:Communication Styles, Non-Verbal Communication. Other Culturally Influenced Concepts.
Misunderstandings and Problems: Communication, ISA Support, Termination of Homestay.
Appendix 1: Host Family / Student Expectations
Appendix 3: TRU World Contacts ( including Chinese Ministry of Education – China )
Appendix 4: Print and Web Resources
Appendix 5: Termination Notice Form
Appendix 6: Homestay Family Evaluation

The chapter, A Crash Course in Culture, is especially enlightening and interesting as it explains the world’s many different cultural values regarding the balance of rules and relationships. It stated that in certain cultures, the formation and retention of relationships outweigh rules and regulations. This difference in orientation may influence how student perceive collaboration, loyalty, or authority. It also suggests that students from a “Particularist” orientation may find it difficult to adjust to the strictness of the “Universalist” orientation to deadlines, requirements, and expectations. The two orientations were described as below:

“ Universalism”                                   “ Particularism “
Focus on rules                                      Focus on relationships
Consistency of rules                           Flexibility of rules
One truth or reality                             Multiple perspectives of reality
“Get down to business”                      “Get to know you “

It also showed a chart indicating the degree to which “Unversalism” is valued in different Cultures. For example Switzerland 97, U.S. 93, Canada 93, China 47, and Korea 37.  The chapter further discussed “Individualism/ Collectivism”, “Achievement/Ascription”, “Neutral/Affective”, and “Monochronic/ Polychronic”, and concluded that in Intercultural communication, using proper communication style that bridges cultural differences can help avoid misunderstandings. The use of effective questioning and verification techniques can also be helpful when trying to clarify meaning across cultural divides .  The techniques were explained by very clear examples.

FFI Friendship Force International – is a delightful discovery. It was introduced to me by Mr. David Gustavson, a board member of Stanford’s CCIS. While AFS and SYA serve High School students, CCIS and TRU World serve College Students and Post Graduates, FFI, started in1977- is a global community comprising 365 clubs (chapters) in 58 countries serving ordinary people of all ages who share a desire to spread goodwill, to better understand people of other cultures and to value one another as Friends. Travels, Cultural Exchanges and HOME STAYs are their signature programs. I am most impressed by FFI’s 58-page “AMBASSADOR & HOST EXCHANGE DIECRTOR MANUAL – 2012 “ – comparable to TRU’s Host Family Guide in thoroughness.

Believing “Friendship can be a powerful force for Mutual Enlightenment, and Cultural Differences do not have to cause Animosity, FFI’s Founder, Wayne Smith, in 1977 came up with the idea of employing the universal concept of HOSPITALITY TO STRANGERS as a means for bringing people together He had strong support from U.S. President Jimmy Carter – but especially from Mrs. Rosalynn Carter. The vision was “By connecting the World, one friend at a time, we can overcome differences among people and nations, and create a World of Friends that becomes a World of Peace.”

I found FFI program now exists in many parts of Asia, Canada, Europe & Eurasia, Latin America, Middle East, Africa, South Pacific and  the United States, and in Asia, the affiliated chapters exist now include India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Napal, Singapore, and Taiwan. I was surprised not to find China in the list.  Why?  I strongly believe that China today can seriously consider joining this global approach to friendship building.  FRIENDSHIP and HARMONIOUS RELATIONSHIP need to be deliberately pursued, encouraged, and nurtured.

Home Stays when not handled properly can cause wide spreading misunderstanding. My friend, Stephen Smuin, retired Headmaster of Odyssey, a middle School for the gifted in San Mateo, California, told me that when he led his students to visit Japan the past several years, they had arranged Home Stays. He always told his students that their behavior will be considered characteristic of all Americans so that they need to be more patient, considerate, and less boisterous.  A college student from China told me last month that she  requested a change in her Home Stay arrangement in the middle of last year because the Home Mother didn’t seem to have much interest in her and she was fed McDonald hamburgers or Kentucky Fried Chickens for most of the meals. That Home Mother was not a volunteer but was paid by an agent. One Home Stay parent told me that her foreign student was so home sick, but got worse each time after she called her parents back in China. But many more friends reported beautiful experiences. Elizabeth Tsai, a grandmother now, wrote, “I was assigned an American host family in Branford, Connecticut, not far from Yale University. I stayed only a day with them before classes started at Yale. The kind family consisted of a chiropractor, his homemaker wife, and two children then only 5 and 3 at the time. Their house was on the water – Long Island Sound – and they took me sailing in their boat before taking me back to my dormitory. The wife was among my graduation guests later. Many years later when my daughter Pearl entered Yale College in 1988, our family again stayed overnight at their house. They also visited Washington D.C. ands stayed at our home.  We continue to communicate by letter and telephone. Our friendship endures “. 

I recently read a book “THE ART OF FRIENDSHIP” by Christine Leefeldt and Ernest Collenbach. It was first written in 1941 and republished in 1979. Although the World has changed and progressed so much. The Art of Friendship remains basically the same. The book concluded with “Friendship cannot exist without Trust. Vital interchanges of Friendship provides us with networks of secure, enlivening, resilient relationships, and mobilize our human potential for warmth, concern, and mutual supports, without which we cannot thrive. This paper is my effort to encourage China, my Motherland, to become the Best Host Possible, as more and more foreign students and travelers are coming to China to learn, to teach, to conduct business or just travel and tour. I strongly urge the Chinese People, Institutions, and Government leaders to look into HOME STAYs as ways for BUILDING CROSS CULTURAL FRIENDSHIPS. I urge you to take time to examine each of the five websites I have provided you on Page 2.

Cheers!  Perhaps with some additional encouragement I might just gather up enough energy and courage to start an essay on “ MY 65 YEARS OF HOME STAY IN AMERICA SINCE COMING TO STUDY AT PHILLIPS ACADEMY ANDOVER AT AGE 15 FROM SHANGHAI, CHINA “. This idea of writing a biography was actually suggested by Mrs. Dottie King who has indeed given me immeasurable INSPIRATION!

Proposal To Connect Our Children

By  Billy Lee, March 2004

This is an opportune time to encourage more interconnecting between our Children from China and the U.S. There is obviously huge interest by the parents and teachers of two groups of U.S. middle school students who will be visiting China with me this April and May. Other schools which hear about such opportunities surely want to learn how this can be arranged for them too.

Much needed is a systematic way for those interested to find ways to connect. The 1990 Institute would like to help establish such a “mechanism”  We need help from our friends from both countries.

It seems obvious that at both ends of the Pacific, we need to identify organizations with national net works to serve as Facilitators – to make introductions or match ups for interested schools or groups.  Once a link is made, the schools themselves should be able to work out the specific arrangements.

This system should start of slowly and expand or improve naturally. We foresee, however, that eventually there will be thousands and thousands of groups of young children making cultural visits in both directions. The goal is to bridge friendship and understanding among children at an early age. The 1990 Institute will first focus on middle-school students’ common interest in Art and Environment.

At the onset, an enlightened Facilitator most likely needs to employ one additional staff member- a bilingual college graduate- to make introductions for the interested schools.  A small fee can be charged for each introduction after some proven success.  The 1990 Institute will try to raise the necessary funds to support this new hire.  That amount will not be too great.

This experiment can be explored for a year or two. It can be terminated afterwards or continued.  The 1990 Institute holds a positive and optimistic vision.


By Billy Lee, November 2016

Very recently, the Charlie Rose’s TV Program interviewed a Mr. Stephen A. Schwarzman who had contributed generously towards the new Schwarzman Scholars’ College at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Their goal was to allow approximately 200 specially selected college graduates from around the world ( 40% from US, 20% from China, and the other 40% from the rest of the world ) to spend one year together at Tsinghua University to learn about China, and to build powerful personal connections.

This is truly an unusual opportunity for these ultra-bright potential future global leaders. I urgently recommend, however, that the special curriculum should include not just informative lectures but also engaging workshops and participation in different situations that will inspire Real Empathy and True Compassion for our Globally-Connected Community.

I have been conversing recently with two very enlightening social-psychologists who have developed a CST (Compassion Skills Training) Model. They would love to work with experts from China to expand their model and make it relevant to the Eastern Culture as well.

I hope, indeed, that the Schwarzman Scholars Curriculum will seriously consider including such a well developed CST program. 

‘Heart’ without ‘Intelligence and Power’ is ineffective. ‘Intelligence and Power’ without ‘Heart’ can be dangerous. Ideal leaders should have all three: Compassion, Intelligence and Power. It’s imperative to develop this concept at Schwarzman-Tsinghua University, I believe.

Billy’s Talk at 1990’s Annual Dinner – Children’s Art & Environment Project

By Billy Lee, May 30th, 2003

You know, at every major event, the early presentations are not that important. Usually people arrive late and intentionally skip them. But ah ha, tonight, I have you sandwiched between Dinner and the Main Event so you are trapped.

The so called 1990 Institute’s US- China Children’s Art and Environment Project is a simple Two-Phase Project – started two years ago.

First Phase: The 1990 with CEEC-SEPA and CNCC were to conduct a children’s art contest in China-on the subject of Environment.

Second Phase: 100 best drawings to be brought to the United States and exhibited around this country for 2 years.

The Goal was to use Art as vehicle to Educate and to Increase Awareness of Environmental Concerns important to the Children from both countries. During the process we hope that the our children will develop a global perspective and enjoy building Trust, Goodwill, and Friendship.

So far the First Phase has been amazingly successful.    Last October we had a Opening Awards Celebration at the CNCC in Beijing. Honorary Co-Chairs Mrs Sarah Randt ( wife of US Amb to China ), Minister Xie  (SEPA), Mme. Gu (ACWF) and many other dignitaries were present with hundreds of children and family members. The event was covered by National TV, newspapers and all types of magazines.   There, we have engaged supposedly one million some children from one thousand plus different locations in China, challenged thousands of teachers, pulled along  maybe another 3 million parents, grandparents and relatives, involved a few very influential government leaders, touched a huge populated Public, and made deeper bonds with colleagues at CEEC-SEPA and CNCC – with whom we will likely collaborate on future projects.

The final selected 100 drawings are Awesome, commented several of my friends.  David  McCullough, my Yale class-mate, and twice pulitzer- price winner for his bios on Truman and John Adams was an Honorary Advisor to our project.  He wrote to me after he received a copy of the Booklet on the children’s art: “ Billy, You must be very proud of the way the exhibit turned out.  The catalogue is just beautiful, and interesting in a way that very few such collections of children’s art rarely are.  It’s the theme that is so compelling and the immense variety of expression.  Good for you, Old Friend.”   Here, I need to thank Jiong Ma who carefully coordinated the design of booklet with our colleagues in China.   Thanks, Jiong !

Eighty drawings are now being exhibited ( from April to July 27th) at the beautiful Coyote Pt. Museum for Environmental Education in S.M.- near S.F. Airport Blvd.   It will travel to New Canaan Nature Center and New Canaan Library in Sept.and Oct..   From Nov. to Feb. ’04, it will be shown at Bishop Museum in Honolulu.  Houston Children’s Museum now wants it for May to August in 2005. I am still working on various possibilities for the period in between. Ah! Gil Grosvenor, Chairman of NGS ( played Soccer with me at Yale) has just referred me to their Exhib Director. Hopefully, we will have a Venue in Wash. D.C., and I sure like to  involve Laura Bush and the Amb. and Mrs.Yang JieChi  at the D.C. Opening Ceremony.

So how well is this Second Phase going so far. The Exhibits in the U.S.?

Pat Koblenz, Edu. Dir. did a fantastic job with the Inaugural Exhibit at he Coyote Pt, Museum on April 5.  She invited many local organizations and personalities to get involved:  The SSMC EDU. T.F., Kollage Community Center for the Arts, Art Share, Recycle Works of SMC, and local children’s music and dance groups.   SMC Supervisor Jerry Hill and the PRC’s Gen. Consul Amb. Wang YX, Consul Hong Lei, and Vice Consul Wang Qiang all enthusiastically participated.      Betsie Hennings ( Exec. Direc) wrote me recently and claimed that she had noticed an increase in Museum attendance already. That’s a Real Good Sign!

Many peripheral activities have also sprung up: Richard Sperisen, coordinator of Arts Education and School Bldg. Designs at SMC Office of Education took 20 from the 100 drawings  and created an attractive mini exhibit which is touring the various schools within SM county. He reported interesting discussions between students and teachers.  Now, that is the reaction we hoped to stir up.

SMC Recycle Works asked if we can arrange for U.S. Children’s Art to travel in China. They are also considering the use of one of the Chinese Children’s drawings for the cover of their Green Building Magazine.

Right now, The New Canaan Nature Center and  Library in Conn, is getting ready to host the exhibit this Sept. and Oct.  They told me they have created a slogan: Thru the Eyes of a Child, We Wonder of Other Cultures, Delight in Differences, Share Passion.

They are going to publicize this event in local newspapers and in The New York Times.  They have gotten OCA of Fairfield County involved- and also a group called Families with Children from China (FCC). One of the FCC members, Ron Lewis is a well know artist, and he may conduct a special workshop on the Opening Day. Children’ Choir from West School will also perform, they told me.

I am planning to go there and round up 30 some Yale and Andover Classmates in the vicinity to join me for a mini reunion.  I may have to entertain them, however, with my song “The Scream” which some of you heard me yelled at the Coyote Pt. Museum Opening.

I expect wonderful things to happen at each of the eight to ten venues we are planning to have. Things are snowballing.  In order to catch and sustain this momentum our committee has created an inter-connecting Website www.e-planet.org   It is now in a rudimentary stage, but we plan to further develop it, refine it and definitely provide a bilingual capability soon. It will have galleries to show children’s and adults’ art works, forum to provide discussions, special news on Art or Environment, and a reference resource  that teachers would appreciate. This actually has become our Project Phase Three.

As I review the status so far,  I see that we have indeed built an attractive Bridge- many thanks to Jim Caldwell, Jiong Ma, and Rebecca Zhou.   But the Inter-connecting Website is only a bridge. We need to give much more thoughts on to attract children and and adults from both sides to get on it, 3 more thoughts on what kind of traffic we should encourage on it, and how to make the traffic move to and fro smoothly, efficiently, and joyously. What other things we need to do to create bonding?  Get the children to visit each other?

I am now in the process of forming a Creative Advisory Committee for this Inter-connecting website development.  It should involve enlightened people in Education, Art , Environment, Communications, Media, Poetry, story-telling, psychology, science, and some Out-of-the-box wild ideas. Our Project success will be measured not just by the width of its extension, and the volume of traffic, but  by the depth of its impact on everyone touched in different ways during the process. The important questions are: What kind of impacts and how can they be sustained ?

What does all this have to do with International Relations?  Remember Dr. Bill Fuller’s talk last year about the Importance of Public Perception in shaping Foreign Policies. I think this project can build better understanding. But more importantly we need to plant seeds to grow Trust and Goodwill.

In conclusion, I  like to thank all of you I call Angels who have given this Project time, labor, contribution, advice, or just moral support.  The back of the sheet on your table acknowledges many generous contributors, I really want to thank again those volunteers and committee members who selflessly gave their valuable time, energy and creative input. Earlier I wrote an article on Eight Very Special Angels, which three relatives helped translate  into Chinese.  I really should write another article at the end of this Project.  It will probably be titled “My One Thousand Special Angels” 

At Kepler’s Children Books Section last week I found a verse by a Persian Poet 1207-1273 Jald Ud Din Rumi. Titled: The Face of That Angel I have modified it a bit and made it :

The Faces of These Angels
The Faces of these Angels
Landed  in my heart
Is there anyone as lucky as I
And as Happy too,  I may ask ?
I hear about words difficult and impossible
But my heart truly does not know what they are

Thank you very much for indulging with my Bula Bula !

My More Than 65 Years of HomeStays In America ‘HOME STAYS’ Build Amazing Cross-cultural Friendships 寄宿家庭培育跨文化友谊

By Billy Lee,September 2018

April 2012, Women of China Magazine, a publication in English by ACWF – All China Women’s Federation, included an article I wrotetitled ‘HOME STAYS – Building Amazing Cross-cultural Friendship’. I mentioned in that article that Stanford Alumni Magazine revealed that my Menlo Park neighbors, Mr.and Mrs Robert King had made an amazing donation of 150 million US dollars to Stanford Business School to come up with ideas to assist poor developing countries. It also stated that the Kings were inspired by 4 decades of Homestays they had provided to some wonderful foreign students who came to study at Stanford.

I was greatly moved and was also surprised that the providers of Homestays could be so inspired while I, as a foreign student on the receiving end, could only understand the feeling of Gratefulness. Home Stays build amazing cross-cultural friendships, indeed.

In this article, I want to remember many encounters I had experienced with American Families and members who have become my most enduring friends. I decided that the title should be ‘ My More Than 65 Years of HomeStays in America.’

I was only 14 ½ years old when I was sent to America from Shanghai to pursue a Western education. My father entrusted my older brother and me to his Amherst room-mates, President Charles Cole of Amherst College and Kenneth Higgins, a successful Private Investment Banker in Worcester, Mass.. We were to stay with the Higgins Family – consisting of Uncle Kenneth, Aunt Poly, and their two sons Billy and Dickie – one year and two years younger than me.

I remember best the Winter holidays we spent at their hillside Colonial Style home at Drury Lane. Uncle Kenneth took us to practice football in a neighborhood park.Dickie in football gears tackled me with full speed and I was knocked almost unconscious. Another time we went skating at a pond, and the neighboring girls were screaming in delight when they saw me on skates my very first time.I actually stood up and started wiggling around but not knowing how to stop. One time we were playing pool in the basement, I missed an easy shoot and started to swear “Jesus“ which I learned from some friends at Andover. As Catholics, the Higgins taught me that was not a nice expression. So ever since I started yelling “Geewhiz” instead .

Uncle Kenneth and Aunt Polly were devote Catholics but they never pushed their religion on me and my brother. They did introduce us to Santa, however. Santa was a jolly old fellow who brought us each wonderful gifts on Christmas Eves.

I went to a summer camp in New Hampshire with Billy and  against the Grey. Billy was captain one year as he excelled in swimming and riflery. Dickie excelled in swimming and baseball. To my surprise I was the fastest runner in Track and I won the seniors tennis tournament by my amazing defense. I hardly had any winning shots but won finally by the opponents’ own mistakes. The Higgins Brothers and the Lee Brothers enjoyed a very natural bond,indeed. We have shared both laughs and tears as we grew up together.

During the four years at Phillips Academy Andover, I remember special kindness from the following people. First, my freshman year housemaster, Harold Howe III, who became Secretary of Education in President Johnson’s administration. He and Mrs. Howe took us foreign students who were left on campus during holidays, to go climb Mt. Washington, the highest peak in New Hampshire. Home Stay in the mountains with the Howes was my first and most exhilarating encounter with Big Nature.

The second very kind person was my Andover dorm mate, Gordon Hammond, who not only helped me in my studies, but also invited me to spend Thanksgiving with his family in New Hampshire. I believe that his mother, two younger sisters and younger brother had never shook hands with a Chinese before. Nevertheless, they all embraced me with much affection as well as curiosity. Gordon’s family was not well-to-do. Mrs. Hammond, a single mother with four young children, had to work as a nanny for a wealthy family, but the Hammonds extended me great warmth and joy instead of special materialistic treats. I especially enjoyed playing in the haystacks with the Hammond kids, and I even enjoyed the smell of fermenting apple cider in the jars covering almost half of their porch. I still correspond with Gordon and his sister Paula every now and then. We hope to have a reunion in the not too distant future.

The third person was none other than my roommate, Doug Adkins,  during the final two years at PA. He had also invited me to his home in New Jersey several times. His brother Win was also in our class of PA’51. While I was the Captain of the Varsity Soccer Team, Doug served as the team’s Manager. We also worked together as student waiters at the Commons – another name for dinning hall. We were privileged to bring extra milk and buns back to our dorm. Doug always seemed to be hungry as he kept himself occupied with many self-invented extra-curricular activities.

The forth party was in fact two persons, Bill and John Wright. Bill was a year ahead of me and John one year behind. Their father was Governor Wright whose family owned a huge property in Deeth Nevada. For several years they had invited three to four Andover students each summer to go work on their Ranch and experience briefly a rough and tough Western Cowboy-style living. Steve Yamamoto from Tokyo, Japan and I from Shanghai, China were invited to share this Home Stay on The Ranch that summer just after our graduation. It was a hot summer with lots of Steaks for supper. Many co-workers were outlaws and escapees. I learned more variations of swear words and swearing expressions which I knew my Uncle Kenneth would not approve. They were uttered constantly by the Ranch Supervisor’s 12-year old son who was already allowed to drive a truck and to give tractor driving lessons to us foreign students from the East-coast private school. Most exciting was to hear about the sojourns to the brothels told by couple of these tough ranchers who could bend one-inch-diameter iron rods by their two bare hands.

Three families stood out during my years at Yale. Art Kramer who was my Freshman Counselor had a truly kind and caring heart. As did Mr. Arthur Howe III at Andover, Art – not yet married at that time – invited me to visit his home in Washington D.C. where I met his parents and his younger brother Larry who is now well known for championing Lesbian and Gay causes. Many years later Art and his wife Alice had a beautiful house built near New Cannon Connecticut. He again invited me to have HomeStay with them. The weekend included a friendly tennis game on their private tennis court.

The second family who embraced me most warmly in New Haven was the John Q. Tilsons. Indeed, Congressman Tilson and Mrs. Tilson were god parents to my Uncle Smilie Chang who studied at Yale College and later married my father’s no. one younger sister when he returned to Shanghai. I was to address the elder Tilsons Grand Pa and Grand Ma Tilson. They invited me to their home for dinner or Sunday Family gatherings many times.In fact thru the Tilsons, Senator Prescott Bush from Connecticut helped me obtain my immigration status via the special Refugee Relief Act. I am deeply indebted to the Tilsons and the Bushes, and I have voted for the Bushes for Presidents mostly out of gratitude. Indeed, my number- one-son Prescott was named after Senator Prescott Bush – George Herbert Bush’s father, George W. Bush’s Grandpa.

The third family I hold most dearly in my heart is the Gregg Family from Darien, Connecticut. David Gregg III seeked me out among others to be his future roommate at Pierson College after our Freshman Year. We were both on the Yale Varsity Soccer Team and David already knew that he wanted to study International Business and Diplomacy. Mrs. Gregg, whom I later addressed as Virginia, seemed to care for me more than my own mother. She had David invite me to the Debutant Balls at Plaza Hotel in New York City couple of times. They got a tux for me, fixed me up with cheerful blind dates and taught me all the Etiquettes. Knowing that I was going to study Architecture, they invited me to stay with them in Darien during the summer and arranged for me to work for a local building contractor to gain actual experience. Years later when I started my professional architecture practice, I got my fist commission to design a vacation complex on St. John’s Island in the Caribbean where several of Mr. and Mrs. Gregg’s friends from Darien and New Cannon had just purchased a beautiful piece of property. Mr. David Gregg II, Virginia, and David III are all in Heaven now. I still connect with David’s Wife Sarah, his brother Arthur, and his daughter Tina regularly.

Home Stay Invitations were offered most frequently when I did not have a home of my own. After marriage I had only occasional HomeStays when I traveled to far away cities. I remember staying over at Pete Acker’s home in Akron, Ohio when I was going to make an architectural presentation to the Higbee Co. Chairman in Cleveland for Lawrence Halprins’ Environmental Planning Firm. Pete and I hadn’t seen each other for years after we graduated from Andover. We both remembered fondly Mr. Harold Howe III’s European History Course. Pete got an A, and I a C-. We both laughed when he remembered that I received the ‘Most Improvement Prize’ at graduation.

I was offered HomeStay by George Webb in Darien Connecticut when I told him about the ‘ Chinese Children’s Art on The Environment’ exhibit which I persuaded the New Cannan Library and The Nature Center to co-sponsor in New Cannan. George was a year ahead of me at Andover, and he later became a Founder of a top executive recruit firm in N.Y. City, after his graduation from Princeton. George and his wife Jean treated me royally, but most importantly we were really grateful for the opportunity to get together and to chat about old times. Again we got acquainted thru soccer. George was a fantastic and amazingly courageous goal-tender. On this occasion, however, I tried to learn from him the art in evaluating potential executives.

One of my most trusted friends was indeed John Howson, Captain of our Yale 1955 soccer team. He played right half-back, while I played left wing, so we were always testing each other during practice. John was a methodical person, and in fact became a highly respected patent lawyer. He was very thoughtful and meticulous, and soon after he and Mary got married, he asked me to design their home in Chappaqua New York, a suburb of New York City. If was truly laborious working for me as he wanted me to explain every minute detail in the design, and then he would translate every bit to Mary, his most gentle and attentive wife.

But after the house was constructed, he loved it so much he stayed in that same house until he passed away last year. I can not forget that three years ago, when he learned that I was going to pass by N.Y.C. on my way to my 60th Andover Reunion, he offered me Home Stay for a few days in his house which I designed for his family almost 50 year ago. They thanked me profusely for the joy their family including three grown children shared in that modern-colonial house. They told me that all the rooms had experienced no changes except paint colors or decorative wall papers. Only the kitchen was refurbished with more modern cooking stoves and a more energy saving refrigerator. Mary was so proud that John had taken up culinary art and wine savoring. In fact John put on his puffed-up white cooking hat and prepared a fantastic sirloin steak for us. It was the best I have ever had. I was treated as a special guest but then they also treated me as their own brother. Such are the feelings only Home Stays can generate. I feel grateful that I have so many wonderful American Friends who generously offer me HomeStays everywhere I travel.

I feel my entire – more than 65 years – life in America can be defined by this series Of Beautiful HomeStays. I am so grateful for having so many wonderful friends. I am 100% convinced that HomeStay Is A Beautiful Way To Build Amazing Cross-cultural Friendships.

Can Retired Grand-Parents Still Contribute To Society?

by Billy Lee – 李名信

I am a 86 year-old retired Architect – long retired from my professional practice and quite a few years retired from my volunteer work at The 1990 Institute in America.  Physically feebler, mentally slower, but aspiration-wise I still hope to be able to contribute to our constantly changing world. What can I realistically do, I wondered?

This morning, a light bulb flashed in my head, and I quickly dashed out an email to my dear Phillips Academy prep-school classmate, George Rider, who is also our Class Secretary at Andover Alumni News. I wrote:

Dear George, I have an idea for our classmates to ponder. Can we as Grandparents leave one or two truly memorable words to our grand-children before we pass? If so what words would each of us choose? This could be an interesting survey to share. Cheers always,
Billy – Ming Sing
PA’51 YC’55

Actually, I have observed for quite some time now that at our frequent family gatherings – always include many grand children and younger relatives – I have become a much more quiet and passive participant.  Although when opportunities arise I can still tell a few brief humorous stories to entertain the younger members.

As a Family Figurehead, I see myself now in a similar role as Queen Elizabeth’s of Britain – an antiquated symbol, but still with great opportunity to wield Influence over her subjects.  Gentleness, kindness, warmth, caringness, empathy, compassion, sensitivity, and sense of humor with dignity, and respectfulness are all important ingredients the Queen must continue to practice if she wishes her subjects to listen and emulate.  As a Grand-parent, I must do the same to win my grandchildren’s attention and to induce them to take seriously what “Two Words” I wish they will forever remember.

BTW, after much deliberation, I changed my “Two Words” for my grandchildren to “Four”: “Be Kind and Smart” instead of just “ Be Kind” or just “ Be Smart “. Of course, what words we choose to leave to our grandchildren will depend on how old they are now and how much they are capable in comprehending.  Indeed, we may also decide to choose specific words for each specific grandchil.

You may be interested in the three very different and endearing grandchildren I am privileged to have: Alana, a 13 year old girl by my second son, is serene, studious, and perhaps a bit passive.  Gage (boy) and Lexi (girl), the 6 year old twins by my number one son, are surprisingly smart, but eager to show off, and rambunctious as a tag team– and laughing like crazy much of the time. The boy is more methodical. The girl is more intuitive.

We don’t see Alana as frequently as we see the twins, as she lives in Berkeley about one hour’s drive away from our home. When the family members get together around the dining table I always make sure that she gets an opportunity to tell everyone her latest encounters in school or at home.  She is still a bit shy, but she is definitely gaining social composure. To make up for our infrequent person to person contacts, we build our bonding by sending each other email attachments of special interests on timely occasions.

My wife, Lucille, babysits for the Twins at our home two evenings a week. The Twins come after school around 3pm and leaves after supper near 7pm.  They always have some idea or several ideas on what they want to experiment at our house –indeed their Play House.  They may do acrobatic exercises under the open-steps stairway. They may do drawings and paste them all over different doors. They may pull down all the cushions from the living room sofas and chairs to create their cave home – each time a different design – amazing!

Supper time is Conversation Time for them, since I accompany them and keep them occupied by telling them stories which I conveniently make up to fit the mood. Often I pump them with mini questions to test their knowledge or personal character. For example I would ask them who is kinder- Nai Nai or Yeh Yeh? I would ask them what can we do to make a cousin feel better after the cousin lost her I- phone?  What happens when we shift things around?- like their cushion habitats. Never too difficult are my questions, but always fun and getting more challenging. We all have a good time, and a Joyful relationship we build together.  It’s Fun for them because they get to quiz their Grandpa too!

It’s Time for a Cross-cultural Institute on Friendshipology

William Ming Sing Lee

At a special workshop “ To Promote Friendship” (ICAF’s World Children’s Festival, in Washington DC on July 4th week 2015)  my colleagues and I came up with this idea for a group of International students to discuss together the meaning of Friendship, compose a Declaration of Interdependence and sketch out a plan for an Ideal International Cross-cultural Institute on Friendshipology.

Friendshipology simply means study about Friendships and Relationships.  It can involve many different cross-disciplines like : History, Religion, Culture, Sociology, Philosophy, Psychology, Anthropology, Neurology, and even Physiology –studying Facial expressions and Body postures. There is so much knowledge and data to be gathered, but todays’ computer technology can help us extract essentials from Big Data very effectively with Algorithms.  Beyond gathering knowledge, our challenge is to search for solutions, methodologies, and exercises which can transform our knowledge to goals, to practices, to habits, which become our good second nature.

Today, scientists and scholars are doing multi-discipline research in many different areas separately and collectively.  I read quite a bit recently about Empathy, Social Emotional Intelligence, Gratefulness, and Happiness, etc. – all important factors in initiating, nurturing, and sustaining Friendship. The following scientists and educators deeply impressed me:

Prof Jamil Zaki , Director of Stanford University’s Neuroscience Lab. on Empathy – Choosing, Harnessing, then Making Choices.  Laura Delizonna’s Wisdom Lab at Stanford on Mindfulness –borrows some ideas from, Thich Nhat Hanh  a very popular Zen Buddhist Monk.  Anabel Jensen, Karen Stone McGown and Susan Stillman’s  SIX –SECONDS – Know/Choose/Give – Emotional Intelligence Network, has provided workshops around the world – including Hangzhou, China.  SIX SECONDS is affiliated with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. Two top high schools in the US , Gunn High in Palo Alto, Ca. and Phillips Academy Andover, at Andover, Mass. – lead by  Instructor Ronen Habib, and Tang Institute Fellow Andy Housiaux, respectively – have established  special Emotional Intelligence training programs and Empathy & Balance philosophies for their school communities . Ashoka Foundation’s Start Empathy Initiative is also note worthy. They now have classrooms around the world.   Finally, Dr. Kerry Howells’  “Gratitude in Education – Mind & Its Potential “- binds Thanking with Thinking. Deep.

Truly significant encouragement came from Harvard Professor Rudolph Tanzi’s  “Super Brain Theory”, which basically suggested that we can train our brains to think positive by practice, and another encouraging discovery was Eboo Patel’s  Interfaith Youth Core – working toward inclusivity by breaking the barriers of religious divisions. His writing and talks have been amazingly effective and inspirational. Indeed, the ultimate purpose for an Ideal International Institute on Friendshipology, is to seek ways to affect people with different backgrounds in our World to relate to each other with “Good Feelings” under most circumstances.

I am indeed passionate about this idea on Studying Friendship – how to initiate, nurture, and sustain what I simply call “Good Feelings”, and my passion comes from seeing much of the world’s chaos caused mainly by people who do not get along and have not learned the Spirit and the Art & Science in building Harmonious Relationships -“ The Necessary Lubricant For All Human Activities In This World ”, as I see it  !

Like Environmental Issues forty years ago, Friendship today has largely been left to Happenstance. Environmental issues were not taken seriously or studied globally and holistically until prominent schools on Environment were established. Isn’t it time now to start focusing on the creation of An Ideal International Cross-cultural Institute on Friendshipology ?

As a retired old Architect, I personally have no expertise on the creation of a new Think-tank – research center, but I am absolutely convinced that it should be done, it can be done, and it will be done by inspired, creative, and dedicated people from various corners of this world to take up this Challenge.

Attached: A design of a souvenir ( Friendship Fan ) given out at the ICAF’s World Children’s Festival.  “ To Promote Friendship – Be A Friend “ on one face.  “Ten Do s and Ten Don’t s”  on the other face. ( Fans For Fanning Friendship )   See below.

Meaning Of Friendship

April 2013 – by Billy Lee

Having been appointed Membership Director of the USCPFA-South Bay Chapter last March (2012), I began to ask myself more seriously “Why the need of Friendship and Friends, what is really the meaning of Friendship – Person to Person and People to People? What sparks Friendship? What nurtures Friendship? What are the causes for Lack of Interest, Irritations or Failures?

I have spent time to do some reading and googling on this subject and of course reflect on my own life the many different relationships with people. Having immigrated to the U.S. from China at age 15, Cross-cultural Relationship and Friendship is naturally most relevant to me.

From childhood days in China, I was taught by my parents: Dzai Jia Kao Fu Mo, Tsu Wai Kao Pon Yu – At home you rely on your Parents. Away, you Rely on Friends. I have discovered that it is not just for practical considerations but more importantly for MEANING in LIFE.  I now believe that TRUE FRIENDSHIP should be our STRIVE, as important as Love, Education, Environment, and Innovation – too important to leave it to CHANCE and HAPPENSTANCE!

I started to search for definitions of Friends and Friendship. Webster dictionary offered the following; A Friend: 1) One attached by Affection and or Esteem, 2) One not hostile, 3) a favored person. Oxford dictionary on Friendship: Relationship between Friends. These definitions are almost too obvious and not especially enlightening.

What I read about True Friendship was more telling! True Friends: Are there for you no matter what / Don’t lie to you / Keep their promises / Don’t stick you from the back/ Kind and Caring towards you / Enjoyable being together / Accept each other as is /  Loyal and Faithful / Someone you trust and willing to share your inner feelings with.

A few HUMOROUS ones were:  Friends you actually call up to do stuff with / Can borrow $5 and  not to have to pay back / Wow ! okay to fart in front of . And yes on Different types of Friends: Sincere F.-  look you in the eyes / Listening F. –quietly attentive / Big Mouth F. – talking incessantly about everybody and everything / Wise F. – know when to keep quiet or move away for a moment./ Annual  F.- only connect once every year / Interest seeking F.- always asking for something / Magnet F. – bring you along everywhere / Suspicious – always worrying about  being cheated / Neurotic – asks 500 times if you are still friends / Daydream F.- always happily floating in air /  Virtual or Cyber F. – so close yet untouchable / Banker F.- always willing to bail you out when you have financial needs / Tight-fist F. – opposite of the above / Exclusive F. – Don’t want you to have other friends / Popular F. – too busy to engage you much of the time /  Protective F.- protect you physically and your good  reputation /  Pessimistic F.- Can some times make you feel depressed / Comfortable F. – comes to your house, lie on your sofa, put feet on the coffee table, turn on the TV, and doses to sleep / Straightly Honest F.-  will sometimes yell at you, “ For God’s sake, Billy ! Use your head!” / Imposing F,- You must think and do what he thinks is Right and what he wants you to do. Yes, I have all these different types of Friends!  It’s a Rich World I live in!

Most of us believe that we know about Friends and Friendship on a Person to Person level. International and Cross-cultural, People to People, relationships puzzled me a bit. Is it about two groups of people from different countries with different cultural back-grounds wanting to better understand each other and befriend one another? It is a wonderful concept, but is there actual emotional connections that can be deeply felt between groups of people and result in True Bonding? I have given this some thought and from my limited experience I can at least feel certain that People to People’s Friendship efforts can definitely promote more Person to Person relationships, and in reverse the latter can validate and reinforce the former idea.

I learned that President Dwight D Eisenhower initiated People to People International (PTPI) with the purpose to enhance international understanding and friendship through education, culture, and humanitarian activities- by involving the exchange of ideas and experiences directly among peoples of different countries and diverse cultures. Tolerance and mutual understanding were its central themes. A non-government and non profit organization, respecting universal values and aspirations., enabling international youth to value long-term friendship and understanding, believing that individuals can often be more effective than governments in promoting human relationships and world peace, advocating more tolerance and accepting of differences, trusting people’s basic goodness and intelligence, it strives for Peace thru Friendship, Understanding, and Bonding.

Many similar organizations were formed subsequently like Public Diplomacy etc. It is most unfortunate that the word Diplomacy has been given a self-serving connotation today. The word Soft Power for example has also started to ignite more fear in ordinary people by suspicious cynics. Indeed, the world is getting more and more connected. Countries and people are getting more and more inter-dependent. I may be naïve, but I strongly believe in Eisenhower’s non-sibi (not for self ) approach. Once our focus is placed on negative thinking, there will be no end to Tic for Tac, then Tac for Tic. etc. etc. There will never be any long-term satisfactory solutions for World Peace subsequently.

Building Relationship with People from Different Cultures, an article by Marya Axner published in Kansas University’s The Community Tool Box, offered some valuable input I found thru Googling.  “We must come together and solve problems that we have in common. Trusting Relationships are the glue that hold people together as they surely need each other’s support. Building Relationships with people from different cultures is key to achieving most significant goals. To become aware of one’s own culture is a first step in learning about other people’s culture. “so stated the author. Why examine your own identities and culture? Learn what influenced your own views on others and learn how others view you in reverse. How to build relationships with people from other cultures?  Realize the difference between learning about others from indeed building relationships. Several important steps suggested were: Make a conscious decision to establish friendship with people from other cultures. Put yourself into situations where you can meet them. Restrain your biases about those who are different. Ask them to tell you their cultures and histories. Listen to their stories and the way their stories are told. Notice differences in communication styles and value emphasis. Identify their positive aspects first. Learn how to be their ally. In summary, the article emphasized that Friendship is our connection to each other and meaning in life. Caring for each other brings us together and motivates us to establish coalitions to solve problems affecting us all together.

One interesting book I discovered from the local library was” The Art of Friendship ‘by Christine Leefeldt & Ernest Callenbach – published as early as 1979.  My Architectural Profession background makes me especially interested in the Art of Creating, the smart Methodologies, and the magic Results. The research covered many intimate life stories, and it stressed that Friendship is indeed a crucial factor in people’s Emotional Health and Happiness. One chapter on Friendship and Power was not totally convincing to me, however. It suggested that mixing profession or business with friendship, like Employer–Employee and Teacher-Student, is unwise because they are inherently divisive. I find that among my best friends in life are my earlier employees, employers, students and/or teachers. I think the issue is not positions or status but rather attitudes and behaviors. But of course the authors were saying that many of us do get carried away by Power and Prestige, thus sometimes forget about Mutual Respect and Caring.

In the chapter, Resolving Conflicts in Friendship, I learned about Timing and Discreet-ness, Open self-revelations vs Need of privacy by certain people, Blunt honesty vs Kind Explanations, Right and Wrong vs. some Compromise but just and fair. Equal status or perfect willingness to lead or follow in Cooperation. The most powerful and most needed ingredient is ATTENTIVENESS, and SYMPATHY could be just your Wordless Presence, a Quick Hug or Pat on the Back, or an Understanding Compassionate look.

The last three chapters inspired me most:  Old Friends and New, Crossing the Barriers, and Creative Friendship.  Old friends appreciate your strength and accept your weaknesses. New Friends introduce new stimuli and wider perspectives. Crossing the Barriers ( Age, Gender, Social-Economic, Educational, Political, and Religious, ) require open-mindedness, tolerance, and flexibility, Globalization makes it even more urgent today How to be creative in maintaining old friends, new friends, provincial or foreign friends is definitely an Art. Creating moments of shared joy and pleasure with impact; offering sympathy, comfort, or material help; giving as well as receiving to and from each other etc. are all Friendship-making skills. But we need to improve our Friendship-making skills in Intellectual as well as Emotional spheres with Honesty and Sensitivity. We know it’s more blessed to Give than to Receive always, but both Gratification (from giving) and Feeling Grateful (from receiving) provide indescribable Joy and Happiness.

One aspect most important in Creative Friendship urged us to be Proactive in Cultivating Friendship. The challenge however still lies often with our lack of Trust due to lack of interacting experience and the Fears promoted by expert Cynics and by people earnestly but exclusively focusing on  security threats. The author’s concluding statement was, “We owe it to ourselves and to our society to combat this Negativism about Human Conditions.  Friendship cannot exist without Trust. Vital interchanges of Friendship can provide us with networks of secure, enlivening, resilient relationships, and mobilize our Human Potential for Warmth, Concern, and Mutual Support, without which we cannot thrive.”

From my own life experience, I have learned not to judge people too quickly, not to stereotype people based on limited or out-of-date information, avoid uncalled-for criticisms or demeaning comments, stop proving you are superior by snide and snotty jokes which are not really humorous to others. Admit your own mistakes and apologize for having caused hurt or harmed other’s self esteem. Be a True Friend to others without demanding equal reciprocation. Understand other’s aspirations and needs. Do whatever you can to help. Appreciate, Enjoy, and Promote Trust.

I am personally 100% committed to the idea of building and promoting Cross-culture Friendship– Person to Person and People to People. Hoping to connect the children from U.S. and China twelve years ago , for example, I initiated the C2C, C2C, ( Children to Children, Connecting 2 Countries ) Magic Moments Exchanges, via The 1990 Institute – in collaboration with All China Women’s Federation , China National Children’s Center, and  China’s Environmental Protection Ministry. Promoting Cross-cultural Friendship among Children, and promoting Art simultaneously with Environment, we ultimately persuaded China National Children’s Center to inaugurate an International Children’s Mural Painting Park in their beautiful Beijing Campus. The Art is always related to Environmental Concerns, and the Annual Festival always involves children from different countries. The immediate effect on all involved – children as well as adults – is validated by their apparent joy and enthusiasm. The long-term effects may actually be more meaningful and more remarkable. The celebrations also involve government leaders representing the children’s countries. We hope that people’s intrinsic needs, feelings and priorities will ultimately affect state and international policies.

To combat CYNICISM, FEAR, and DISTRUST, we must build TRUST and ENGAGE-MENT with diligence, determination, creativity, and commitment. A most encouraging message is indeed what I heard from watching KQED’s special presentation by a Harvard Professor in Neuro-Psychology.  Professor Rudy Tanzi was introducing his SUPER-BRAIN THEORY to the vast TV audience. His main point was that each one of us should and in fact has the ability to control our own Brain instead of letting it control us emotionally and physically. A person can at will lead the brain to focus on happy positive issues, conditions, or ideas and practice it repeatedly. The brain subsequently produces chemical effects that can help the person reduce anxiety and feel healthy and optimistic thus more capable in engaging others. Yes we are better persons when we are not under stress. Why not try this “Think kind and Be kind, Feel good and Be good” practice, and let Friendship THRIVE for a BETTER WORLD ? !

My First Cross-Cultural Encounter in U.S. – Fall 1947

Billy Lee Sept. 2014

Fall 1947, I enrolled as a Freshman at Phillips Academy Andover,located at Andover Massachusetts just north of Boston. Since I was academically delayed one year, the school assigned me to a Lower-middlers’ ( sophomore ) dorm where the students would be mostly of the same age as I and were supposed to  be a bit more mature than the new-arriving Freshmen.

Green House, mastered by a History Teacher – Harold Howe III -with his wife and an one-year old baby – had six students from various parts of United States – plus myself from China, and another Indian-looking fella from South America. Many of them already knew each other after their Freshman year together. To them, I was the “New guy” and  that “Mysterious Specie” from the Orient “.

At first, my dorm mates did not know how to relate to me. They treated me courteously but with a somewhat mischievous curiosity. They were having great fun with each other and played joyously a game called “Got cha !” which to me seemed rather silly , cruel, and hurtful.  The game consists of two boys surprising a third. One of the two will move towards a third student and initiate a conversation. The second one will sneak behind the unsuspected and push an arm through between his legs. The first one will readily grab that hand and lift up together while cheering “Got cha !”.  The victim usually screams in pain but then laughs with the mischievors and the bystanders, as that was the accepted culture.

I was afraid that they may play that game on me, but luckily it never happened. One morning, however, when I was entering the common bathroom on the second floor, I did notice that the majority of my dorm mates were already gathered in the hallway –ready to leave together for  breakfast at the Commons. One of them was very nice and asked me, “Billy Lee, are you coming with us?” I replied, “Yes, can you wait just a minute. I need to comb my hair?” I had left my small bottle of Vitalis hair-tonic in that medicine cabinet where others also kept their toilet articles. When I opened up the bottle cap that morning, however, the normal nice perfume aroma had mysteriously changed to something a bit strange. I found the color remained the same. Just before I was going to pour it over my hair, I noticed that my dorm mates all of a sudden all gathered just outside the door and chuckling. They were all anticipating this special moment to witness this comedy.

I sensed that  someone or a few of them together had planned a trick on me, but I didn’t know exactly what to do.  Spontaneously, however,  I shook the bottle of tonic – or whatever it was in it – and tried to spray it on the them – yelling simultaneously, “ Try this perfume from China !  Few of them actually got sprayed, and I became scared – wondering what they may now retaliate to me. To my surprise, they were not angry with me at all.  They thought that I was a ‘Good Sport’. They laughed and I laughed. Somehow, this incident broke the ICE, and I felt they had subsequently embraced me totally as one of the WE s.

A Call for an International and Cross-cultural Institute on Friendshipology 架起友谊桥梁


I am a founding member of The 1990 Institute, and I am an active member of the US-China People’s Friendship Association, South Bay Chapter. During a special workshop, To Promote Friendship (International Child Art Foundation’s World Children’s Festival, in Washington DC, the United States,
during the week of July 4th in 2015), my colleagues and I came up with the idea of having a group of international students compose a Declaration of Interdependence and sketch out a plan for an “Ideal International Institute on Friendshipology.” 2015年7月,国际儿童艺术基金会在华盛顿举办了世界儿童节庆典活动。期间,我参加了一个以促进友谊为主题的研讨会。在会上,我和同事受到启发,决定建立一个增进学生友谊、促进文化交流的国际学院。

I am passionate about the idea of studying friendship, about how to initiate, nurture and sustain what I simply call “good feelings.” My passion comes from seeing the world’s chaos caused mainly by people who do not get along, and by people who have not learned the spirit and the art and science in building harmonious relationships — “The Necessary Lubricant For All Human Activities In This World.”

Friendship has largely been left to happenstance, much like environmental issues 40 years ago. Environmental issues were not taken seriously, nor studied globally and holistically, until prominent schools on the environment were established. It’s time to start focusing on friendshipology — now!

On important social issues that relate to the nurturing of children’s development, I always share my concerns with my women friends first. It was a pleasure, and an honor, for me to become friends with the All-China Women’s Federation (ACWF)’s former leaders, including Gu Xiulian, Feng Cui,
Zou Xiaoqiao and Cui Linlin, after they attended the San Francisco forum, entitled Women, Leadership and Sustainable Development, in 2000. I organized that forum on as a board member of The 1990 Institute. The above-mentioned women, with Sarah Randt, wife of former US Ambassador to China, Clark T. Randt, heartily supported my proposal to install an International Children’s Mural Painting Park at China National Children’s Center (CNCC) in Beijing. The murals will focus on both the environment and friendship. Leaders (under Cong Zhongxiao) at CNCC have since made the
International Children’s Mural Painting Festival an annual activity. I feel so rewarded by our spirited collaboration.

Now, on this seemingly “naive” — not really that naive — idea about forming a cross-cultural institute on friendshipology, I again want to present the challenge to my ACWF and CNCC friends, and to the readers of Women of China English Monthly from around the world. I hope you can offer good ideas, useful contacts generous resources and even your personal efforts to make this “naive idea” a reality — wherever and however. It is so important that the study be internationally and cross-culturally focused, since we today are so bonded that we simply cannot afford to ignore one another. Of course, implementation may need to be staged in phases.

Friendshipology simply refers to the study of friendship. It can involve many cross-disciplines, including history, religion, culture, sociology, philosophy, psychology, anthropology, neurology and even physiology — the studying of facial expressions and body postures. There is so much knowledge and data to be gathered, but today’s computer technology, with relevant algorithms, can help us effectively extract essentials from big data. Beyond gathering knowledge, our challenge is to search for solutions, methodologies and exercises, which will transform our knowledge into goals, practices, habits and our normal behavior.

During the last two years, I have read a lot about empathy, social-emotional intelligence, gratefulness and happiness — all important factors in initiating, nurturing and sustaining friendship.

The following scientists and educators have impressed me: — Professor Jamil Zaki, Director of Stanford University’s Neuroscience Lab on Empathy — Choosing, Harnessing, then Making Choices;
— Laura Delizonna, whose Wisdom Lab at Stanford University (which is aimed at transforming cultures through mindfulness) borrows some ideas from Thich Nhat Hanh, a very popular Zen Buddhist Monk; and
— Anabel Jensen, Karen Stone McGown and Susan Stillman, who established Six Seconds – Know/Choose/Give – Emotional Intelligence Network, and who have conducted workshops around the world, including in Hangzhou, in China. Six Seconds is affiliated with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.

Two of the top high schools in the US — Gunn High, in Palo Alto, and Phillips Academy, in Andover and lead by instructor Ronen Habib and Tang Institute fellow Andy Housiaux — have established special training programs on emotional intelligence and empathy and balance philosophies for their school communities.

Ashoka Foundation’s Start Empathy Initiative is also noteworthy. It now has classrooms around the world. Dr. Kerry Howells’ Gratitude in Education at Mind & Its Potential binds thanking with thinking.

Significant encouragement came from reading Harvard Professor Rudolph Tanzi’s Super Brain Theory, which basically suggested we can train our brains to think positively through practice.

Another encouraging discovery was Eboo Patel’s Interfaith Youth Core, or working toward inclusivity by breaking the barriers of religious divisions. His writings and talks have been amazingly effective and inspirational. Indeed, the ultimate purpose for an Ideal International Institute on Friendshipology is to seek ways to affect people with different backgrounds, so they relate to others with “good feelings” under all circumstances.

As a retired, 84-year-old architect, I personally have no expertise in the creation of a new think-tank-research center, but I am absolutely convinced that it should be done. It can be done. It will be done, by inspired, creative and dedicated people, from various regions of this world
— and possibly led by women!