A college campus is a wonderful place. On an average day, it is filled with new ideas, exploration, and personal growth. But to me, meeting interesting new people is one of the greatest things about being a college professor.
I recently had the distinct pleasure of spending time with a visiting scholar from Shanghai, China. Linzhi Zeng was at Towson University to further her doctoral studies. I participated in part of her research, and after a lengthy interview, we found that we had many more things we wanted to talk about. A great new friendship was born.
Linzhi Zeng is one of the most interesting people I have met in quite some time. Scholar, singer, composer, and guitar-player, Linzhi is a talented person by any measure. We talked into the night about a great many things, including teaching PR/communication, plus philosophy, religion, and the great and small events in life that shape who we are. I could not help but think that any problems between China and the U.S. could be easily solved by such open, deep, and candid conversation.
Linzhi returns to Shanghai at the end of May to resume teaching PR and to finish her doctoral dissertation. As a parting gift, she came to my office and performed four songs for me, all original compositions. It was an amazing performance. She wrote two of the songs in English, and two were in her native Chinese. The lyrics were haunting and ethereal, her voice rich and earthy. You can hear echos of her ancient culture in the songs she composes and in the way she sings them. But at the same time, some of her songs are as contemporary as the music any other young woman anywhere in the world might listen to.
New friends, good conversation, and music — what a way to end a semester. Thanks, Linzhi. I won’t forget you.