Barbara and I have just returned from Bryn Mawr College’s tour, guided by Joseph Wang.  The tour was a complete success, full to the brim, overwhelming – as we hope it would be, and has given us much to digest and think about.

Our first order of business is to tell you how delighted we were to have Joseph as our National Guide.  From our Beijing pre-tour to our farewell at Shanghai Airport, Joseph was always a step or two ahead of us.  He anticipated needs we hadn’t even thought of and provided for them.

On the first day of our full group, Joseph had to address one traveler’s missing luggage containing medication, and another’s misplaced passport.  He resolved both matter flawlessly.

Joseph’s knowledge of his country – past, present, and likely future – is encyclopedic and was delivered matter-of-factly, one grown-up to another, with no airs or pretense.  His kindness was evident at every turn.  Xi’an required quite a bit of walking and I observed  the gentleness with which he suggested wheelchairs to several in our group who really needed them.  He made the idea seem to be the travelers’ rather than his own.  Remarkable diplomacy!  I marvel at his patience with my attempt to learn a few word of Mandarin, including the use of correct tones.

Joseph is also a teacher, and our questions yielded understanding from him everywhere we went.  His ability to explain nuance and shades of meaning on any subject is what we would expect at a university level but rarely on a travel tour.

As we said in our farewell dinner toast, we were enriched by not one, but two professors in our company

Bryn Mawr’s, Bob Dostal, gave us wonderful perspective on China’s history, economy, politics, and religion in two formal presentations and numerous sidebar conversations.

Barbara and I have traveled extensively in our 60-plus years, and only Salih Orgun in Turkey rivals Joseph as a guide.

Thank you for this extraordinary tour which we will remember the rest of our lives.  Xièxiè, Joseph