JI’s 2012 team building retreat was held on the weekend of December 7-8 in Songjiang, Shanghai. Seventy-one or 94% of faculty and staff members attended this important event.
A farewell dinner was organized in honor of Prof. Robert Parker, Executive Dean, who will be departing at the end of December 2012. Dean Ni, Samson Zhang, former Deputy Dean, and Peisen Huang, Associate Dean of Education, reminisced about the early days of JI, four and half years ago, when Prof. Parker joined the pioneers to help build JI. They described how Rob, an American without any previous Chinese connection except backpacking in China during his youth, set an amazing example by moving to Shanghai with his wife and three young children at the peak of his academic career, which reflected his passion for international higher education and his faith in JI. His bold endeavor convinced many prospective faculty members to follow suit. During his tenure at JI, Prof. Parker has tirelessly recruited top-notch faculty members from all over the world. As a consequence, JI today boasts a high-caliber faculty team.
Wangsheng Zhao, Associate Dean of Research, and Gang Zheng, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education, praised Parker’s professionalism as a researcher and an educator, a model to emulate. Executive Director Pam Byrnes then roasted Rob, a sports enthusiast, by showing him dancing Gangnam Style in a video clip. Many faculty and staff also shared anecdotes to show how Rob embraces Chinese culture whole-heartedly, such as daring to eat strange Chinese food and learning to master badminton and ping pong.
For Prof. Parker’s souvenir of JI and China, Dean Ni presented him with an album containing photos and good wishes from the JI family, as well as “A Bite of China.” Prof. Parker reciprocated by donating a ping pong table to JI for all to enjoy. He remarked that his four years and half at JI is the most memorable chapter of his career, and he thanked everyone for making his JI experience enjoyable and valuable. He genuinely wishes to stay in touch with JI and help JI in whichever ways he can.
At the opening of the team building sessions, Dean Ni addressed the JI family and gave an update on JI’s current affairs. In the first session, all faculty and staff were divided into four mixed and matched groups to analyze JI’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) separately. After 20 minutes of intense group discussion, the leaders of the four groups presented their conclusions respectively. Pam, who monitored the exercise, thanked all for the constructive input to the JI SWOT analysis. Everyone’s brain storm sheet was collected and the four densely scribbled white boards were photographed. The results will help the administration for future planning and policy making.
The second session was team-building games. Eight randomly assigned teams had to identify and gather their teammates in the shortest time and then competed with each other to come up with the most creative team name and team song. For 10 minutes, each team was engrossed in excited discussions and song rehearsals. Then, each team gave its best shot in presenting the fruit of team work. The winner was the Kung Fu team with their funny acts and creative lyrics.
A group photo session successfully concluded the JI 2012 team-building retreat.