Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Sunday, June 30, 2013

Student, alum meet in Shanghai


Emily Brunjes, left, and Lydia Bi

Tasty Sichuan for lunch, travel around Shanghai and fried dumplings for dinner made for a pleasant day for alum Lydia Bi and student Emily Brunjes.

Brunjes, who will complete her Master of International Public Affairs degree this year, is in China to travel and participate in the University of California, Berkeley's Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Studies at Tsinghua University in Beijing this summer.

After corresponding as part of the La Follette School's Alumni Network, Bi and Brunjes arranged to meet when Brunjes planned to be in Shanghai.

Bi graduated from the La Follette School in 2011 with a double degree  in international public affairs, and urban and regional planning. She returned to China and has worked for several private firms as an analyst, most recently for Canalys in Shanghai.

"Lydia told me about her jobs since graduation," Brunjes says. "I filled her in a bit about my interests, and we swapped stories about La Follette and Madison. We had a nice visit."

When they met, Bi offered several choices of regional Chinese food for lunch, and Brunjes selected Sichuan. "The restaurant near where we met had an old communist factory theme for the décor, and the food was served in tin cans," Brunjes says. "It was quite fancy and good."

"With themes reminiscent of the past era, going 'retro' is considered more of a trendy fashion, and the political elements are viewed little more than as contemporary amusements," Bi says. "A uniquely China phenomenon, I think it happens to complement quite well Emily's short stay in Shanghai before she heads over to Beijing for the intensive Chinese program."

After lunch they wandered around Shanghai quite a bit. "We went over to Tianzifang, an arts and crafts enclave in the old French concession area in Shanghai," Bi says. "Developed from renovated Shikumen, an old Shanghai style residential architecture, Tianzifang features small crafts shops, trendy art studios, fancy restaurants and narrow alleys, and has now become a popular spot for shopping and dining for tourists. I think it's a must-see for Shanghai visitors, as it offers a nice contrast of the past and the present."

"We topped off the day with a light dinner of fried dumplings, these ones were a particular specialty that can only be purchased in Shanghai, quite good," Brunjes says.

"In the end, I thanked Emily for specially taking time visiting me in Shanghai before her program in Beijing began," Bi says. "Indeed I feel quite blessed for a visit like this, because I refreshed my Madison memories and felt my links to the La Follette School and the UW growing strong."