Lee's in BEIJING!

As we mentioned in our previous blog entry, AWS Manager of Education Lee Cain is currently in China representing the Chesapeake region as part of a fellowship to conduct a water conservation comparison between the US and China. Be sure to check the AWS Blog as well as Twitter and Facebook for more updates from Lee!

Below is Lee's most recent account of his trip...

Hey AWS,

I've had a pretty amazing trip so far and I've learned quite a lot about what China has been doing with water. I am attaching pictures of me in some recognizable places and below I've written something that you can share on the AWS Blog. I'll try to get a couple more e-mails to you over the next few weeks to keep you updated. The pictures attached are of me entering the forbidden city, me finding the princess in the forbidden city, and me organizing a protest in Tienanmen Square.

I arrived in Beijing on June 5th and have had the privilege to learn from some very knowledgeable people in China about what they're doing with water. After the US ambassador visited us, the Director General of China's Ministry of Water Resources came to give us an overview of China's water situation, along with a lecture from a participant of the China delegation specific to Beijing.

Thousands of years ago, Beijing became a city because water was so plentiful that springs seeped from the ground. Hundreds of years ago, there was a need for more water and people engineered rivers for surface water resources. Between the 1980s and 2006, the ground water levels went from 6 meters to 19 meters. Now China is diverting water from thousands of kilometers away in order to meet the growing demand for water, while desertification looms over the city. The project is called the "South-to-North Water Diversion Project" and it also includes two other similarly sized diversions in other parts of the country.

The air is full of dust and coal ash and at first it was hard to breath, but I've gotten used to it. Today Dr. Hu Bo, Senior Researcher of the Policy Research Center of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, provided us with a private lecture in English. Dr. Bo is very knowledgeable and is working on a pretty awesome project. Tomorrow he is actually presenting alongside former Vice President Al Gore, but today he spent some time with us to answer our questions.

The city of Beijing is amazing and beautiful. During some down time we visited the Forbidden City and Tienanmen Square. The Forbidden City was way more expansive than I had anticipated and took a good three hours to walk through. After, we ate lunch in a cypress garden (I took note that the trees weren't doing as well as they probably once were) and the food here is amazing. I'm likely to gain weight while I'm here. Then we went to Tienanmen Square. At first I was reluctant because it was just a big slab of impervious surface which I'm never fond of, but as I began walking toward the center I began to feel that peace you feel when you're just so overwhelmed with hope and despair all at once, and my God, I was floored.

Two days from now we will arrive in the arid region of inner Mongolia, Alashan. From there we will head to Shanghai for the world Expo and then back to Beijing. I'll keep you posted when I can. Tell everyone I say hello and I hope things are going well. I'll talk with you soon.

Signing off,
Lee

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