Environmental hero shares his journey

(Edmonton) U of A professor emeritus Lawrence Chia-Huang Wang says intuition and serendipity have been key in overcoming his life’s unpredictable challenges. And during fall convocation Nov. 17 at the Jubilee Auditorium, Wang, whose work in China is transforming lives there, says he hopes that by sharing some of his personal stories with graduands he’s giving them an inside scoop to speed ahead in life.

The Chinese-born scholar said his dad rewarded him for passing the National College Entrance exam with a record player. He later bought Elvis Presley records and song books to help him understand the songs.

“It was so cool and so much fun to do. Little did I know at the time, that this singing after Elvis was the best conversational English learning method that I could have ever had,” he said. “So an audio system targeted for pure fun serendipitously served as a teaching tool and benefited my language skills for life. Otherwise, I would still be repeating myself at each of my new semester’s class openings: “Welcome students. Me no speak English good, I talk you listen, no listen you flunk!”

He later spent 18 years of his life studying the hibernating habits of beavers.

The work that would transform his and others’ lives began when a high-school classmate asked him to help fulfil his dream. The friend, Sam Chao, wanted to improve the lives of families living alongside the Yangtze River in China. With financial support from Chao, Wang and other U of A researchers created the ECO initiative, subject of the documentary “Seeds of Change.” The results are changing lives in China.

“It is so very gratifying to see illiterate parents starting to save for their children’s college funds and the seniors wanting to live longer just to enjoy the newfound security and comfort. Intuition and serendipity played their magic again on a cause that is right and worthwhile to do,” he said.

“Let serendipity be your magic wand to heighten and solidify your self-esteem and harmonize and transcend your spirit of friendship and belonging. So intrinsically, you are always aligned to uplift yourself for the better, and extrinsically, your community for the richer.”

To learn about ECO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9xraq4DgZg