Team Taichung: “Day One” Reflections

As I write this late evening Monday, October 19, I find it hard to believe today was officially “Day One” for our Smarter Cities Challenge (SCC) Team Taichung — so much has been stuffed into our short time together, and we’ve really bonded as a team. I am humbled and honored to serve on Team Taichung with Armando Calderon, Dmitri Kharitonenko, David Kinsey and Sujatha Perepa, and am amazed at the broad range of expertise assembled in a team of 5 people from across geographies and IBM business areas. Already, we have learned a good deal about the Greater Taichung Region, their priorities and challenges – and about each other. We are also very appreciative of the fabulous hospitality and helpful insights of our IBM Taiwan team – they are truly outstanding.

Today, following a tour of the city to learn more about the issue we are addressing for traffic and transportation, we were briefed by leaders from several departments within Taichung City, and had excellent discussions with them (aided by local interpreters when needed).

We then had the distinct honor and privilege of meeting with Mayor Lin, who shared his vision for Taichung’s leadership in the Central Taiwan Region and his point of view on need for a “Smarter Transportation System.” We look forward to working with Mayor Lin and his team over the next 3 weeks to better understand their challenges so we can formulate our recommendations.

Tomorrow, we will spend time with the Traffic Bureau – and will even “test drive” Taichung’s bicycle rental system (“i-bike”)… good to know before wearing a dress and pumps!

Pre- “Day One” Reflections…

Prior to today’s official start, we’ve had the pleasure of spending time with the local IBM Taiwan team in briefings on Friday to prepare us for our assignment, and we’ve enjoyed many wonderful and unique cultural experiences. Every meal has been truly delicious and we particularly enjoyed Din Tai Fung (best “dumplings” anywhere, I’m told!).

SCC Team Taichung Dinner@Din Tai Fung_Taipei

On Saturday, we had a full day of cultural immersion, beginning with a visit to the National Palace which houses some 70,000 pieces of Chinese art (more than Forbidden City in Beijing) covering 5,000+ years. We learned about the influence of an Italian painter Guiseppe Castiglione and saw an impressive array of paintings, porcelain, jade, bronze and more, and gained greater appreciation for the history and culture of China and Taiwan. Our lunch there was amazing, as the courses mirrored some of the famous works of art (see the display of desserts below arranged like the “curio cabinets” enjoyed by the emperors). After lunch and a trip to the gift shop, we were off to a tea house to work with a master calligrapher.

SCC Team Taichung_Dessert@National Palace

So let me just tell you, Chinese calligraphy (with a large paintbrush) is harder than it looks! We were tasked with creating a banner as a gift for the Mayor with 5 characters (one made by each of us), to say “Smarter Cities Taichung.” We did it! Our leaders said they needed to show pictures of us creating them or people might think they were done by professionals. (I think they were just being nice!).

SCC Team Taichung_Chinese Calligraphy

Topping off our cultural immersion day, Team Taichung enjoyed a special evening at TaipeiEYE entertained by Chinese acrobats and Chinese opera. These talented performers also spent time before and after their shows mingling with the audience and posing for photos — great fun!

SCC Team Taichung_Chinese Opera

Already, it’s clear that our experiences here will create life-long memories! Tomorrow, the journey continues…

— Rebecca Butler Mona

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