• Posted on: August 19, 2014

[Think China 2014] Day 10 | Do You Know Your PV’s and Q’s?

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July 16, 2014

Authors: Lionel Gowans, Joshua Lee, and James Alexander

As part of our continued education in the science sphere, we took an hour drive to Wanxiang PV Lab. Wanxiang Group is one of the premier sponsors of this academic and cultural exchange.

Upon entering our meeting room (which was like a small museum) we walked past car parts, shocks, brakes, axels and more. We marveled at the displays because only a few of us direct experience with automotive parts. At the lab we met with Ms. Wong and she gave us so much information about what the whole Wanxiang Company does. It is actually the largest independent auto parts manufacturing company in . Wanxiang Manufacturing has made a great impact on auto factories in America. Their overseas operating headquarters is actually located in Chicago, Illinois. Surprisingly the Governor of Illinois declared August 12th to be Wanxiang Day, it may be because this company has saved about 3500 American jobs and 1/3 vehicles made in America used parts by Wanxiang operations. We learned that this company helped General Motors with operations to assist their bankruptcy crisis a couple years ago. Also, it was exciting to learn that Wanxiang hopes to do business with the Bay Area electric car company Tesla, because they already work with American electric car company Frisker Automotive. We received a beautiful gift of ceramic tea cup which commemorated the 100,000 Strong initiative. They even gave one for Miles Lawrence, an original delegate who was unable to make the journey with us. Afterwards we had a tour guide to show us around the Wanxiang EV facility. Some of the things at the EV facility, we had never seen before. The cars, batteries and prototypes were all cool. We learned that the batteries only take about a day to make. We looked at a specific type of battery called the A-123 that Wanxiang got from the Americans. We learned that Wanxiang has operations in 12 different countries and some plants in America. We saw some cars that were built with Wanxiang parts. They were really exciting because we got to sit inside them.  The car’s frame was exposed so it was fully transparent. Talk about knowing where everything is! After that we learned that the solar panels on the roof could power two big buildings. We followed with lunch at a very nice restaurant, and afterwards we loaded up and started heading back to the hotel.

We were able to participate in special visual arts workshop where we made clay sculptures using flour and dough. I for one am not the artistic type, especially when it comes to making figures and shapes out of material. We had an instructor give us several demonstrations as well as Hangzhou Polytechnic University students to help us. The instructor created a koi fish and panda bear as demonstrations. He had a few magnificent pieces of art he had created before we arrived. Here’s a brief history about “dough sculptures”. Dough sculptures date back to the Han dynasty (206BC-AD220). Dough sculptures became part of Chinese culture and folk arts as well as objects for study in history, archeology, sculpture and aesthetics. Today dough sculptures are popular wedding and birthday gifts. In our workshop today we made panda bears. We used white dough and black dough (food dye turned the dough black) as well as green clay. The hardest part of the process is probably softening the dough. We had to work the dough with our fingers for several minutes.

 At the end of the process my hands and fingers were already tired. After softening the dough we needed to make extremely smooth balls in order to make the shape of the panda. At the end of the sculpting our instructor rated the best three pandas and I’m glad to say that I came in 2nd. Not to be selfish or boastful but I’m proud of myself because I already didn’t think my panda would come out presentable, and I exceeded my expectations. This was another challenge I overcame on this trip that has helped me identify the resilience and determination in me that I sometimes forget that I have. It meant a great deal to a person like me who set low expectations for himself when it comes to tasks I know where I don’t excel at. Clayton said it was the highlight of his day! Everyone seemed to enjoy this workshop too and some of the other pandas were very good as well as funny and creative. After our sculpture workshop we went to dinner and ate pretty swiftly. I think everyone was a bit tired and ready to retire to their rooms. After resting for an hour we ended our day with a 2 hour wrap up workshop. In this workshop we discussed our founding values for My Brothers Keepers, evaluations, blogs, and other important topics. Although it was a serious and somewhat controversial decision on choosing our top values we finally came to the conclusion that the founding values that our My Brothers Keepers delegation will be founded on is accountability, leadership, community, loyalty. These are all values that are very important to my own life. We are now wrapping up this workshop and our day. It’s been a long, powerful, and interesting day. Until next time…

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