Jason Lee, This summer: A Forum from Beijing, C9
In my last speech, presented in the early July, I talked about a hard choice I made this summer. I was thinking whether joining a project to Beijing or not. And now, the summer vacation ended, I’m back. The choice tasted diverse, sweet, but a little bit bitter, and mellow, I am proud to tell you that I have no regret. So, what did I do in Beijing? I’m happy to share with you tonight, giving this unforgettable journey a recall.
This summer vacation, I made a hard choice. I abandoned many things in Taiwan, like doing a research project, joining our clubs activities. I chose to join a volunteering project, held by an international student organization. This project was very special. It gathered 9 taiwanese students, including me, going to Beijing, to cooperate with some university students there. We were going to hold a forum. A “Cross-strait Youth forum”. Why? Since the cross-strait relation has become more and more tightly, like business cooperation, and academic exchange. The organizer hoped to let the students from both sides, Beijing and Taiwan, know more about each other, by dialogue, by a forum. And for us, the 9 taiwanese students, could also experience the living style in Beijing, and go sightseeing during this 7 weeks journey.
The idea sounded really great, right? However, holding a forum wasn’t an easy work. We had six weeks to prepare. Some of you may be confused, “Did holding a forum need to take 6 weeks long?” Franking speaking, 6 weeks was very very short. Evan a major annual conference needs at least half a year to prepare! What’s more, this forum was a whole new idea. There was no precedent. We had to built it from zero to one, a whole day FORUM. We wanted to invite at least 4 speakers, and attract 200 people to join. It was challengeable, especially we were in Beijing, not in our hometown Taiwan. Our group had to brainstorm, and brainstorm, to come up with any idea, that would make our potential speakers, potential sponsors, and students in Beijing feel interesting. Today, in retrospect, it just felt like marketing.
Why it felt like marketing? We had to find out what our target customers really wanted. That was to say, what the students in Beijing wanted to know? And what was our advantage we could use? What kind of forum would attract a hundred of students to participate, for a whole day? There was no absolutely best answer. It was a real practice of marketing. We positioned our forum called “Cross-strait Youth and Business Forum”. We focused on “Youth” and “Business”, so we invited Taiwanese businessman who work successfully in China, talking about their experience, and different personality between cross-strait young people. We also designed a tea party for all participant to share, including us.
During the preparing stage, the most tough work was looking for sponsors. Without funding, we could do nothing. This was the art of persuasion. To persuade a company to support our idea. Imagine, it is not easy to ask a consumer to pay, right? So do big enterprises! They are the most realistic creature in the world. Sometimes talking about ideal would not convince them. We had to persuade them that our forum was lucrative, worth investing. And I admit, looking for sponsorship was too innocent to achieve. That was almost “Impossible.” We had a hard pressure that time, because without any sponsorship, other works were all in vain. In the end, with many friends help, we still found some. I was deeply appreciative of them.
Finally, after six weeks of hard-working, on Sunday, August, 17th, our forum was held, at a conference hall near Peking University. Although it didn’t attract 200 people, we still had a hundred and more. It might not be perfect, but in my heart, it was not important anymore. What it gave me, was the process, the 7 weeks boundless memory in Beijing. I worked hard and traveling hard everyday, because I knew every second in Beijing was precious. This was form the choice I made half a year ago. And it gave me an extraordinary experience this summer. I have no regret. TME.