An Autumn Day in Washington

Finally it is nice autumn in Washington, neither roasting sunshine nor thundering showers. There are still flowers of mixed colours scattered along the streets, swinging in the wind.

The Seoul-U.S. Forum is held in SAIS. For the whole morning, experts talk extensively about the Korean Peninsula, the U.S., and inevitably, Japan and China. It is more likely to meet leading scholars from Asia in Washington than in Tokyo or Beijing, not only because of the high frequency of events held here, but also because its more relaxed atmosphere and the way people network.

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Lunch looks delicious, with plenty of choices, from which I get a salmon sandwich pack. Food in the U.S. is indeed giant portion and I have to throw away many things with guilt. Exiting the conference room in the middle of the afternoon session, I walk along 18th street towards GWU. In a small park in the middle of the crossroad, some people are training for sports. Washington is wonderful, in the sense that it puts the busy centre of world affairs in a small town instead of a metropolis.

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After an inspiring interview for my PhD project, I have a quick look at the World Bank bookshop. It offers places to sit and read, as well as discounted books.

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Back in SAIS, there is an interesting seminar on Japan-U.S. internet economy dialogues and a reception full of fun. Washington is the ideal location for IR students, and those who are based here since undergraduate are so privileged.

An 110th Birthday Party

During my fieldwork in the U.S., I live in a religious residence. The elder sister here was turning 110. In addition to all residents, many people came to congratulate from various parts of the country. Another sister wrote a poem and read it in front of us. I thought it was beautiful even though I couldn’t understand a word as it was in Spanish. Our birthday girl looked happy, though a little bit sleepy.

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I have been to many birthday parties in my life, but this is the first time I went to celebrate someone’s 110th birthday, and I don’t know whether there will be a second opportunity like this in my life time. What were people thinking during the party, the meaning of life? It was a sunny afternoon. The rustling capital of the world’s superpower seemed so peaceful while people, acquaintance or strangers, randomly exchanged friendly words with each other.

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Famous people like to say it is not the length of the life, but the content of the life that matters. It is right only in the sense that a meaningful life is more meaningful than a meaningless one. If I wouldn’t live until then, how could l experience future progresses of the human society which I can’t even imagine now? Let’s live long, at least long enough to work out a solution for the demographic problem of aging.