He reacted perfectly appropriately and looked around behind him for a place to lean them on his other side that would not obstruct anybody else. Since he was sitting in an isle seat, he leaned them against the outer edge of his own seat. However, I could tell that more than one person nearby notice that the crutches were now almost certain to slide and eventually come crashing down on the floor or hit someone else nearby as they fell. Another person politely tapped the owner of the crutches and whispered something while gesturing and then he gently laid them down on the floor and slid them so that they were underneath the row of seats underneath their owner. From the combination of the verbal exchange, head nods, and hand gestures, I realized that the person who had alerted the student with the crutches had indicated to him that he would help him retrieve them from underneath the row of seats when he needed them. A few people who were nearby smiled at one another and then everybody seemed to go back to paying attention to the presentation.
According to the presenters, the specific immediate goals of establishing a GCC chapter at USC are to (1) help build a global network of future leaders by establishing friendships that link members of the USC community to China and to the international community simultaneously; (2) to increase awareness and understanding within the USC community of China through collaborative programs across an extensive network of USC graduate schools, research centers, alumni, and student organizations; (3) to become an immediate and valuable source of direct access to the 50-university GCC-network advertising and promotional opportunities for members of the USC undergraduate community.
They introduced the audience to the concept of an organization that had the benefits of centralization and of the respective advantages of decentralization at the same time. In that regard, they presented a large visual depiction of the structure of the GCC, reproduced below:
On one hand, the GCC maintains a central office that coordinates some of the initiatives that further the goals and the success of the organization. On the other hand, the many different chapters also have the freedom to operate independently in a manner that allows them to tailor their operations to the needs and opportunities of their specific communities.
The presentation continued with a more detailed explanation of that the GCC is, already after only 3 years in existence, the largest student organization in the world that is dedicated to creating and maximizing engagement between the future leaders of China and the international community. Toward that end, the GCC organization coordinates initiatives with the top Chinese universities and with corporate partners to further the development of an international professional network and to provide valuable professional business experience. Among the organizations already involved with the GCC are Lenovo and the Sino Group.
One of the attendees who was dressed very professionally raised a hand and when the speaker acknowledged him, he asked: "In terms of individual students, what does GCC membership actually mean?" It was at that time that a cell phone rang on the other side of the room and another well dressed attendee reached into his suit pocket to turn it off while making an apologetic gesture toward the lectern with his other hand. The speaker then resumed, thanked the individual who had raised his hand for his question and replied, "One of the functions that the GCC central management provides is the coordination of internship and research opportunities in China as well as in the United States. Naturally, the types of internships and research opportunities we focus on are those that would be of particular interest and value to students with a strong interest in China."
Another hand went up, from an American student who asked, "Do you accept graduate students?" The speaker responded, Yes, we accept all students whether you are a freshman undergraduate student or a PhD candidate." The speaker went on to explain that while the organization seeks to further the connection between China and the world and to help cultivate the future leaders of China, it is simultaneously a non-denominational organization that is equally open to any student whose personal and professional interests are similar to those of the organization. It is a non-exclusive community that seeks to bridge gaps between peoples and communities at every level and never to create any or increase any that already exist.
The speakers then began passing out additional informational material while mentioning some of the upcoming events and opportunities that were already scheduled that the USC chapter of the GCC might want to participate in. After explaining the various ways of obtaining more information and of becoming GCC members, the speakers thanked all the attendees for coming and concluded the meeting.
I have to admit that by the end of the meeting I was still not completely sure what the interest of non-Chinese participants was in the GCC although I remain open-minded about that. I suppose it bothered me slightly that some attendees seemed to dress inappropriately casually for the event because it could be interpreted as insulting to the organization and to other attendees.
After having just studied Alexis de Tocqueville, several thoughts came to mind in connection with the GCC event. It is an unfortunate reality that part of the reason that need for membership in student organizations of this type are increasing is the result of the current economic and jobs crises in the U.S. My overwhelming impression was that the principal motivation of most of the attendees was simply to increase their awareness of potential employment opportunities, precisely because post-graduation job prospects are now so pessimistic for so many qualified graduates.
It occurred to me that when Tocqueville wrote about the difference between American and European attitudes about wealth and earning, that there was such a dual-edge sword in the sense that Americans came to care so much about money that they became obsessed with the trappings of wealth. Tocqueville had already observed in his time that there was a potential danger of focusing on material pleasures, but he may never have anticipated the degree to which American culture and society would eventually worship the display of wealth after a significant portion of the population achieved relative material comfort. Given Tocqueville's views of the esteem in which Americans held the value of working for a living, he might be shocked to know how much contemporary work in America consists of nothing besides earning money from money. Likewise, given his writing about democracy, he would probably be appalled at the manner in which contemporary American political, economic, and social policies reflect the direct influence of the wealthiest few over government legislators. All of those factors have contributed to the dismal employment…