Our dear friends, Ruth-Ann and Mike Martin from South Africa, taught at CFAU with us until this year. Since we were tired of American English and craved linguistic chaos, especially when talking about food, we decided to visit them at XISU (Xi’an International Studies University) in Xi’an (pronounced She-an). What an incredible trip! We went with other dear friends, Kent and Ruth Demke (I know, we are aware that 33.3% of our group shares the name “Ruth”). The Demkes have been serving as humanitarian missionaries with LDS Charities in China and are nearly ready to return home.
We highly recommend the hotel where we stayed: Eastern House Boutique Hotel in Xian. It was probably one of the only 10.0 (Hotels.com)-rated hotels we’ve ever been to. It was also very inexpensive.
Our 5+ hour high-speed train ride from Beijing was pleasant, especially since we got to share the time with the Demkes. They are such an inspiring, faithful couple who have chosen to serve despite physical difficulties. Ruth is fond of saying, “If I can serve a mission, ANYONE can serve a mission.” The Demkes have traveled extensively throughout China, working with professionals, NGOs, and people in remote areas of China who need wheelchairs. As they tell of their experiences with grateful, Chinese people who have had such difficult lives, it is often hard for them to talk through the tears.
We had been to Xi’an twice before, and thought we knew the town pretty well. We were amazed at the sights, sounds, smells and tastes that we had never experienced.
We hope you enjoy the pictures below.
Some final thoughts: The Martins were great hosts, as we vacated our hotel room and spent one night with them on an air mattress. They even sent us away with a bag of snacks and goodies for the train. What a great experience! When we returned to Beijing it was in the middle of a giant snowstorm, with several inches accumulating on the roads. This is highly unusual for Beijing.
You don’t have to be in China for very long before you learn that dumplings are something everyone in China loves and there’s an art to making them. Every year around Christmas time is also the lunar solstice that means you are supposed to eat dumplings that day to bring prosperity for the coming year.
The staff and teachers are invited to the cafeteria to make hundreds of dumplings and then they cook them for lunch. The president of the university always pays a visit to say hello. Laraine had the privilege of visiting with him for a few minutes and have her picture with him. The students then put on a New Years program. Our very own Judy Batschi, a fellow BYU china teacher, performed a solo during the program.
There was also a Relief Society class to learn how to make dumplings. So everything is dumplings for a few weeks.
For the third year now, Laraine has taken the opportunity to have her students enjoy the experience of gratitude. She teaches them about the importance of gratitude in our life and how powerful it is to bless others lives. Everyone at the school agrees the cleaning ladies have the hardest job. They spend every day of their lives cleaning the bathrooms which are not the nicest smelling. The students are given little hearts and they then write a thank you note to the women. They enjoy taping the hearts to the work room next to the bathroom. The cool thing is these hearts stay up the whole year. One student said she had come to class feeling really down but after the activity she was feeling much better and realized how good it feels to express gratitude.
We also had the chance to enjoy Thanksgiving with a big feast of traditional food and even had the chance to invite Monica (a young girl Laraine tutors) and her mom Liu Ying to join us. On top of all that, we got a visit from Jeremy. He came from the U.S. to record our audiobook, and of course to spend time with us on Thanksgiving.
It is a great privilege to visit with teachers from other universities, also in the BYU Kennedy Center’s “China Teachers Program.” We visited a very quaint ancient city just a few hours train ride from Beijing. PingYao has a wall around its ancient town, and very fun architecture.
In addition, we saw the Great Wall from a new vantage point–Mutianyu, which is a very popular stop.
One of the university administrators asked us to “help out” at her daughter’s elementary school every month. They want us to share our “drama expertise” with the school’s drama class.
At this point you might ask yourself if Chuck and Laraine have much experience with drama. The answer is NO. But because we are Americans and Hollywood is in America, there is an assumption that we all must surely know how to act. Fortunately, we have drafted our fellow teacher, Judy Batschi, who DOES have drama experience to join us. We had a great experience our first time with the class.
Since we DO have experience with emotional literacy, we used that experience to help students learn how to show more emotion in their acting.
With just 24-hour notice, we were asked to be available for an interview by Beijing International Radio’s “Touch Beijing” program. When we arrived, we weren’t sure exactly what they wanted to discuss with us, but it was obvious this wasn’t any ordinary radio station.
Once we got past the armed soldier at the front door (we had to wait for someone to deliver a pass to us), we were escorted to a fairly massive broadcasting area. Apparently, there are about a dozen radio frequencies being broadcast from that location, and that didn’t include all the TV stations.
Once we realized the hosts had read this blog page and checked out my LinkedIn page, they were prepared to discuss leadership development with us. We were very impressed by the host and co-host’s professionalism and friendliness. They made it easy to get past our jitters.
Foreign guests are invited each year to join a fall walk at the beautiful summer palace in Beijing. Everyone was given identifying stickers, a bright yellow backpack, and a jacket to wear, and encouraged to mingle with hundreds of foreigners and Chinese hosts as they make their way around the palace grounds via a marked path.
Our university invited us again this year (our third year) to join the group. We had another commitment in the afternoon, but thought we would attend just the opening ceremony of the walk before quietly and unobtrusively leaving.
To our surprise, however, before the walk started we were honored on stage with big colorful “longevity” banners as the announcer said, “Charles and Laraine Chamberlain, American experts, are recognized for being the most outstanding walkers.” Apparently, we were the only ones who’d attended the event for three years straight.
After this honor, we felt so guilty about walking away, we stayed for at least some of the walk, then skulked away from the marked path and plethora of organizers by ripping off our stickers and hiding our bright banners as much as we could. Our hearts were beating fast as we sneaked away. “Outstanding walkers” indeed!
China does an outstanding job of opening up opportunities for dialogue with foreigners. It is obvious that a great deal of focus, energy, and money is spent on presenting a friendly face to the world. For instance, when an important global trade or government meeting is to be held in China, it is very common for the meeting to be held in one of China’s “tier two” cities. This gives the country an “excuse” and a deadline to renovate and upgrade that city. Travel anywhere in China and you’ll see massive road and landscaping projects in addition to the building boom. It reminds us of families who hold a daughter’s wedding reception in their backyard. It wouldn’t be uncommon to see the family remodel the living room, family room, and back patio in preparation. Now if we could just get more attention to those bathrooms!
This link puts you on the show’s archive site. Look for the 20191106 interview. That’s ours. It is a drive-time program, so must have tons of listeners. Don’t be intimidated by the Chinese characters. The program is in English. They introduce us in the first couple of minutes, but then our interview starts somewhere around the 25-minute mark.
by Charles J. Chamberlain, co-founder Chamberlain Leadership Group LLC
We have worked with many clients over the past 10-11 years who have used our tools to overcome emotional issues, or to simply develop better emotional control and awareness in leadership roles. But as people gain more emotional literacy and increased ability to manage their emotions, the same two frustrating phenomena show up time and time again. Perhaps there are better words to describe these phenomena, but two metaphors do a great job in helping us visualize them.
Due to its buoyancy in denser sea water, an iceberg floats
with approximately 10% of its mass showing above the water and 90% submerged. When
we embark on a plan to understand behaviors and underlying emotions, we see a
similar pattern in ourselves and others. Only 10% of our emotional “mass” is
visible as conscious behaviors, vocalizations, and consciously controlled non-verbal
The remaining 90% of our emotional world is “submerged” beneath
our consciousness. But just because an emotion is below the surface doesn’t
mean it has no impact on us. To the contrary, because it is submerged, it has
even more power over us, especially if we continue to be consciously unaware of
it. This 90% carries significant weight as we form and maintain our identities,
create relationship habits, develop meaningful motivations, and navigate the
challenges of our lives.
The extent of our enjoyment of life and relationships is
largely determined by how well we understand and manage the entirety of our
emotional iceberg. Whether or not we are at ease in our lives or at “disease”
can be a function of how well we are managing the submerged portion of our
emotional existence. Submerged emotions can interact with our physical bodies
in unexpected and unwanted ways. They can come “out of nowhere” and affect our
verbal and non-verbal communication. They can cause illness. They can also
cause us to do things that don’t make sense to our rational minds. Have you
ever said, “I don’t know why I said that?” Or, “I don’t know why I did that?” Our
submerged emotions can be particularly sensitive to triggering stimuli, thrusting
us into “mysterious” episodes of despair or confusion, leaving us wondering, “Why
am I suddenly so upset, worried, or depressed?”
You could think of the self-directed tools we offer as scuba diving gear, allowing us to dive beneath the surface and explore the submerged 90%. And, like a scuba diver’s equipment, the emotional tools allow us to go as deep as we are comfortable going. No one is there to pressure us to go beyond our comfort level. If we want to stay just a few feet beneath the surface, we can do that. If we want to dive deeper, we can do that too. The tools allow us to gain an appreciation for the extent of our emotions, while at the same time working on specific areas of concern.
Emotional Leaky Roofs
Once we have discovered some tools to work on specific emotional areas, we often face another phenomenon we’ll call the “leaky roof” phenomenon. Anyone who has experienced a leak in the roof can relate to this dilemma: After a hard rain, you notice water coming through a small hole in the corner of your dining room. At first, you place a bucket under the hole to collect the water, then when the storm has subsided, you look for the source of the problem. It is unlikely, however, that the hole in the roof is directly above the hole in the ceiling. Water has a tendency to enter from one hole, travel many feet away along trusses and structures in the attic, and create another hole as it follows gravity. An inexperienced homeowner might patch the drywall in their ceiling, thinking they’ve fixed the problem. A later storm comes along and it becomes clear that the source of the problem is not where it appeared to be.
Likewise, in our work with people who come to us having
identified a specific issue, more often than not, “the issue” is not the real
issue. For instance, we’ve worked with people who have taken our anger
management classes in lieu of jail time. It is tempting to say, “I have a
problem with anger,” especially when a judge has confirmed that indeed you do
have a problem with anger. But in our anger management approach, we recognize
the fact that you probably do NOT have a problem with anger, but you most likely
have a problem with fear, guilt, confusion, or an array of other possible
This “leaky roof” dilemma appears everywhere. A man who can’t
control his spending is really struggling with depression. A woman who puts on
too much weight is really protecting herself from pain. A combative, rebellious
teenager is really overcome with grief. The examples are endless.
Using the tools we provide, a person can quickly test the emotional strength of a particular issue and decide if it is simply in the path of gravity, like water flowing to its lowest point, or if the issue itself is the source of the problem.
A clear understanding of both the extent and complexity of who
we are emotionally can help us be happier, more productive people.
For more information about the tools offered by Chamberlain Leadership Group LLC, contact us by clicking here.
Along with some of our university colleagues, we were invited by our university to attend a special dinner for foreign experts who are living and working in China. We arrived in buses and, for our benefit, the entire highway was shut down on the way to the dinner, which was held at The Great Hall of the People adjacent to Tiananmen Square. Some 2,000 foreign experts were in attendance and treated to an amazing dinner and speech from Vice Premier Han Zheng. He praised foreign experts for assisting the country of China in reaching its current strength and status on the 70th anniversary of the Communist Party in China.
At our table was a couple from the Ukraine, a woman from Mexico City, a man from the UK, a man from Russia, another American man, and two Chinese hosts. We had a delightful time getting to know them. Unfortunately, cameras and cell phones were not allowed in the hall. We did get pictures of our group at the university and outside the hall.
Incidentally, after the dinner the entire crowd exited the doors to the front of the hall, while I (Chuck) slipped into a restroom at the rear of the hall, behind some heavy curtains. I was there for just a few moments when an entourage of young men in business suits wearing ear buds entered the restroom with the Vice Premier himself. I was surprised and could only think to say, “Hi” to him. Afterwards I exited, holding open the curtain for him as we walked out together. I remember thinking, “Why are these security men allowing me to be so close to the Vice Premier.” Then I remembered the worried looks on their faces. Obviously, this bathroom break was unplanned and worrisome to those whose job it was to keep him safe. I caught them off-guard.