The Pleasure Is All Mine Yang Wu-huang, Chemistry
In the BeginningÖ
I was relaxed at home one evening last December. It was a busy year and I was done with all my traveling. Phone rang. Phone picked up. "Hello, it is Paul." That was Paul Wu, my classmate at Tunghai. He lives only a short drive away. "Whatís up?" I asked. "Same old same old. Nothing much.", was Paulís answer. "That canít be true," I thought. "Oh, by the way, do you want to be the Chairman for the 30th anniversary reunion?" There was a 10-second pause that seemed like eternity. Many questions ran through my mind in that brief pause. Do I have time? Do I need one more thing to work on? Do I have energy? Do I Ö? Something compelled me and I answered "Yes." There was a sigh of relief on the other end of the phone line. That answer forever changed my life. My wife said that I was insane to take the job having just completed her high school reunion a few months ago.
Well, I could change my mind before it was done. The next day, kcís email came declaring me "Chairman Yang". I knew that it was too late.
Reunion Plan on a Piece of Scratch Paper
We had the first working dinner meeting in LA area late December. The team members met. I knew Terry Yu of Chemical Engineering. We came to the States in 1974 on the same plane the day when Nixon resigned. That was the first time ever I met Lily and Shiuchen, both Economy majors. No impression at all. Donít know these girls at Tunghai. Actually, I donít know any girl at Tunghai. I was pretty sure that they were sizing me up face to face right there and then because I was doing the same. Paul also invited Yin Si-Rong, the chairwoman for the reunion of class of í71. It was a working dinner meeting. Si-Rong provided many valuable tips. It was a group consensus that we would adopt the reunion model for the class of í71 as the time was insufficient to design the reunion from scratch. Based on the information, I drew up the first timeline on a piece of scratch paper. Yes, a piece of scratch paper. Legend had it that Compaq was born on a piece of napkin at a dinner. We all knew that it was cooked up by the advertising people. Though humble initially, we all knew that it had a grand finale six months later.
We had much to do, and so little time. We needed a headcount. Lu Kung-Ching (kc) of Physics had compiled an alumni contact database thanks to her diligent PI works. Not only that, kc already lined up a troop of department representatives whom we tapped in to request an initial headcount. The initial number indicated that the reunion was indeed doable. Armed with the headcount information, off we went to the travel agency. That was last January.
LA Team Meeting
In addition to the first get-acquaintance dinner meeting, the LA Team met a total of four times and one site visit. Each meeting is a fun-filled event. As I read the meeting agenda and minutes again, I was wondering how in the world we got so much accomplished with the lunches, snacks, and tons of laughter.
Did you get the impression that Lily was probably the happiest girl in the whole reunion? When she was around, you heard nothing but laughter. She joked that she was my secretary. I was just elated to be able to work with her. She presented the first draft of the invitation letter even before I had time to sit down for the first LA team meeting at her house. I was so impressed! Lily has later written many other letters for the reunion. Reading her writing is as she sitting with you face to face and talking with you. Her masterpiece is, of course, the post-reunion reflection. With one stroke, she poured out the feeling for all LA team members. When I saw it, I thought: "Good, I donít have to write anything at all!" Cheng Ying wrote me later that she shed some tears reading that reflection article.
Chou1 Yau3 Ching1
Donít know who he is? Well, read on! When I took over the role of the reunion coordinator. (You can call me "Chairman Yang" or anything else; I have fixed my role as a "coordinator" right from the very beginning.) This guy was nowhere in sight. In fact, when I visited Lu Kung-Ching (kc) at Purdue (My wife and I both went to Purdue for our graduate studies) this past January on a business trip, kc couldnít even remember his name. She referred him as "the guy who played guitar at Tunghai". Of course, you know that I am talking about Chou Gene-Pai (Gene). Geneís sudden appearance is probably the best blessing for our reunion. I donít think I need to say too much on that again. Gene took initiatives and contributed so much to the overall success.
One early morning, I received a phone call from Sun Shao-Tang (ST). With a rather worried tone, ST told me that Gene had just called him a few minutes ago. ST was told that I was ready to pull the plug on the reunion. It was STís impression that Gene was very depressed. I had no clue of what was going on. True, I had talked to Gene just a few days ago trying to persuade him to take over my role and he declined. But, in no way Gene could construe it as "pulling the plug." I assured ST that such was not true. ST concluded that Gene might have been suffering a deep depression and he had better call him again to comfort him. Gene was nowhere near the phone. All ST got was the voice mail. A few hours later, an email came. It was Gene. The email said very simply: "April fools!" Depressed? I think not. Having fun? You bet! Well, Gene, we forgive you in light of all your contributions. I learned later that kc was ready to call me to beat the hell out of me. I was not guilty, kc.
Many alumni said "thank you" to me and other team members before, during and after the reunion. It is no toil at all. It is abundant fun to plan and pull off something like this. It is teamwork. And what a dream team! Let me tell you a secret: The pleasure is all mine. I am sure other team members feel the same.