Vancouver Island Ex-Cadet Club
4363 Emily Carr Drive
Victoria BC V8X 5E3
RRU Oral History DVD
I wonder if you could disseminate this announcement to all club branches.
Royal Roads University has produced the first result of the RRU Oral History Project in the form of a DVD of reminiscences by ex-cadets.
The DVD is called “Coming Full Circle” and is an extremely professional production done by Karen Inkster and the RRU Foundation staff.
It is a funny, moving and emotional experience for all ex-cadets, particularly those who attended Royal Roads.
The DVD is now available for general release. RRU did not want to put a price on it so it is being offered on a donation basis. All donations received will go to the Royal Roads Military Heritage Fund for projects related to RRU’s military past. (The re-erecting of the mast for example.)
RRU is suggesting a minimum donation of $10 per DVD but Dave Wightman, Secretary Treasurer of the Vancouver Island Branch, is suggesting a $20 minimum as he knows how much effort has gone into the production of this wonderful keepsake.
The best way to order a copy is to go to the link below and click on DVD Order Form. You can also read more about the project on this link and you can even register for RRU Homecoming 2008 (12 Sep 08 to 14 Sep 08.)
Newsletters from China #6 – July 31, 2008: This letter is my last in this series. It includes some notes about my further adventures in China before I headed home via Hong Kong, Macau, and Hawaii where I enjoyed a marvelous experience aboard two of our Royal Canadian Navy ships in Pearl Harbour on Canada Day. Also, some final reflections about my four- month stay in China. On the Dragon Boat Festival holiday long-weekend (the dragon-boat races are held earlier and on this occasion families gather to enjoy food and fellowship), I was fortunate to be able to accompany another teacher and some students on a visit to the ancient “roundhouses” (often called tulou) located in a rural region called Yongding, about a three-hour drive from Xiamen. These structures, many round (they look like very large doughnuts) but some square, were created by the Hakka people, immigrants from northern China from the 17th century onward. The materials used were rammed earth, wood, stone and bamboo (no iron nails). These buildings, miracles of architecture six stories high, could house 600-800 people and would serve as a community and as a fortification against conflicts with neighbouring clans, warlords, bandits and marauders. After guiding us through one of the typical old roundhouses, our hosts treated us to a wonderful festive luncheon. Next day we visited another large grouping of these famous structures before heading back to Xiamen through the picturesque countryside. I also ventured over to the island of Gulangyu, just a short ferry ride from Xiamen. This car-free island is an escape from the frenetic pace of the city. After the incessant horn-honkng in the city, the solitude here was deafening. I sat at the ocean’s shore having lunch with the only sound being that of waves reaching the shore. Later, after completing my exam marking, I was able to re-visit Ningbo and Ningbo University (NBU) for a few days for the first time since I had taught there in 1999-2000. Some large sections of the city were being demolished back then to create parks and people-places. The transformation of the city centre is remarkable. I very much enjoyed being able to attend the always-impressive NBU Convocation Ceremonies for the Chinese students I had taught in the Fall at Humber. I also reunited with some folks I had worked with years ago at NBU. Several Humber folks came over to China for this event and the Dean of The Business School at Humber presented the students with their diplomas. Next was an equally-impressive Convocation at Jimei University (JMU). The Jimei students surprised their Humber guests by singing our Canadian national anthem to open the ceremonies. About 125 students from Ningbo and 37 students from Jimei will soon arrive in Canada for their third year of study at the Humber Lakeshore campus. I expect to teach them through this coming Fall and perhaps again in the Winter Semester. When it was time to leave China I had hoped to be able to visit Tibet. However, the Chinese authorities did not open up Tibet to foreign visitors until very late in June and imposed very onerous restrictions on foreign visitors. The requirements included hiring a private car and a personal guide, not being permitted to tour Lhasa on your own and the cost would have been prohibitive. I suspect this might be a strategy to ensure that no activists would likely be able to afford to visit Tibet. I also tried to schedule a visit to Laos without success because of difficulty getting airline reservations. So I opted instead to spend more time in Hong Kong and to visit Macau. Hong Kong remains my favorite Asian destination. It is a great city, everything works, one can use English, the public transportation systems are very good and the people are very helpful. I recently learned that there are 220,000 Canadian citizens in Hong Kong. One million residents of Hong Kong have relatives in Canada! I visited some areas of the island I had not been to on earlier visits. I also returned to Sai Wan Military Cemetery located high on a hill overlooking the city. This wonderfully well-cared-for military cemetery, one of several military cemeteries in Hong Kong, is where 1,500 mostly very young men and women are buried, including several hundred Canadian soldiers in my brother’s regiment, the Royal Rifles of Canada from Quebec City. They died in the Battle of Hong Kong, December 8-25, 1941, or in captivity as P.O.W.’s of the Japanese. It is always especially moving to see the ages of the deceased inscribed on their tombstones. So many died so very young. The students I teach, whether in China or in Canada, are older than most of casualties of this war. We must never allow their sacrifice to be forgotten. From Hong Kong I made a quick visit to Macau more out of curiosity than interest. Not being a gambler this “Las Vegas of China” was for me a curious place, very lively, brightly-lit, with many casinos and hotels to serve the throngs seeking that impossible fortune. Macau’s history as an ancient Portuguese trading post, founded in 1557, is there to appreciate but is of far less interest to most visitors than the casinos. I happened to be on Tiananmen Square the day that Macau “returned to the Motherland” (December 20, 1999). Like Hong Kong, it is now a “Special Administrative Region” for governance purposes. These SARs are given a certain autonomy to manage their economies within China’s policy of “one country, two systems”. Curiously, both of these city-states, while now back under Chinese control, are nevertheless not considered to be within China for visa purposes. When leaving China for Hong Kong or Macau, one is considered to have exited China, an important issue for single-entry visa holders. My next stop was Seoul, Korea but unfortunately only at the airport for an aircraft change. I had not been in Korea since 1954. I hope to be able to make a meaningful visit to Korea one day in the future to trace some steps I took as a young soldier. On to Honolulu, Hawaii for a very special experience on Canada Day (July 1st) aboard two of our RCN ships. My newsletters had been reaching the Navy through the Victoria Branch of our alumni association, the Royal Military College of Canada Club. A young officer and ex-cadet, #22866 (my College number is #3201 !!!) Lt (N) Kathryn Ward, Logistics Officer on board HMCS OTTAWA, had invited me to visit her ship when it was in port in Shanghai. I could not make that visit but she extended a further invitation to me to join their celebrations in Pearl Harbour on Canada Day. HMCS OTTAWA and HMCS REGINA were participating in a naval exercise known as
RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific) along with ships from nine other friendly navies. This exercise takes place every two years and our sailors have over time become renowned as hosts on Canada’s birthday. The OTTAWA and the REGINA were berthed alongside each other with a walkway between allowing access to the decks of both ships. Commodore Nigel Greenwood, commander of Canadian Fleet Pacific greeted the guests. Along with many officers from RIMPAC navies and other guests (both ships appeared to be jammed to capacity), I was treated to many scrumptious culinary delights, not to mention a variety of pleasing beverages. Kathryn and the OTTAWA’s Commander, Cdr Martain Teft, were most gracious hosts. A very impressive sunset ceremony included solo renditions of the Canadian and U.S. national anthems. It was a wonderful way for me to return to Canadian soil, so to speak, after a four-month absence abroad. Interestingly, there were Japanese ships participating in RIMPAC. It took me some time to adjust to seeing Japanese flags flying in Pearl Harbour, a sure sign that World War II is over. But not forgotten. The ARIZONA is the final resting place for 1,177 crewmen who lost their lives on December 7, 1941. The impressive Memorial structure is built on the mid-section of the sunken ship, a very fine tribute indeed, especially the shrine room where the names of those killed are engraved on a marble wall. After Honolulu, I spent a few days on the beautiful but quiet Hawaiian island of Kauai. Next it was on to Vancouver for a very enjoyable visit with my family. I am now back in Ontario.
China – reflections: As I was leaving China, the Sichuan earthquake was still very much in the news, the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games were again a topic of huge pride and great concern, there was a lot of rain and there were disastrous floods in several regions, including in the South. On July 4th there was even an earthquake not far from Jimei, only 4.4 in intensity, but frightening for the people nonetheless. China has installed giant wind turbines on the steppes of Inner Mongolia to convert mega winds to megawatts. A Disney theme park will open in Shanghai in 2012. There is simply no end to stories about China’s growth and the massive changes occurring in the country and to their culture and traditions. Is China becoming too Western too quickly? Perhaps, but only in the big cities. China is a vast and diverse country. Indeed, it is said to be not one country but a number of regions that are culturally and physically like small countries within the greater nation. It is easy for foreigners to fly into China, visit The Great Wall and marvel at the modern structures in Shanghai and then draw conclusions about China that are simply too simplistic. I consider myself privileged to have been able to live in China for two extended periods within the past decade. China is certainly not for everyone, but I seem to thrive on being witness to change and to experiencing a different culture. Whenever younger colleagues (they’re always younger!) would comment negatively about something that was different in China than at home, I would tell them to repeat out loud: “This is China”. Why do we think that the Chinese or any other people or race ought to become more like us? The Chinese have been around for 7,000 years or so. They have a significant history. Enjoy the differences they bring to the table. Perhaps I have been influenced too greatly by watching the state-owned TV channel in China (it’s the only one we had available to us!), but sometimes I find myself being uncomfortable with the way the Western media is consistently so very negative about China. Yes, human rights issues need more attention. Yes, journalists need more access than they are sometimes allowed. Yes, there are huge environmental problems to be addressed. We might pause to ask “How would our country or other Western countries handle some of these problems if we had a population of 1.3 Billion souls?” I am dismayed to see rather little being said of all that is positive about China. The people are mostly happy, pleasant and helpful. There are quite wonderful places to visit, parks and forests, lakes and rivers, good food, and good times to be enjoyed. Parents love their children and just want to get on with their lives just like we do. The political system, or the police-state aspects of it, are certainly not to our liking, but my sense is that there is a new wind blowing in China and significant positive changes are happening. Patience! This big ship will take some time to turn around. China is already a major economic force and she will continue to grow. Our young people should be studying China and studying Chinese. China is on the way up while we in the West face significant economic challenges. The Chinese leaders are strong, the political system is strong, and the country is strong. The Chinese have learned their lessons from the West well. We should be studying and trying to understand China and the Chinese more than we seem to do. China is a great country to experience. Nevertheless, there is simply no country quite as wonderful as our own. O CANADA!
3201 Austen (Aus) Cambon. (RMC ‘54)