TOP-OF-MY-HEAD OFFERING by William Shilstone May, 2020

This take on friendship is from Bill Shilstone, 81, retired newspaper journalist, Navy veteran and one of Billy’s many tennis victims.

Grandparents are supposed to be role models for grandchildren, but I have a graduating eighth-grader who has taught ME about friendship. He’s only 14, but he has always had more concern for others than for himself.  His mother put it in a graduation message to him. (His name is Billy, too.)

“I am so grateful to have been able to watch you win the spelling bee this year. … But you know what made my heart burst with pride was the friendship that you showed to Kathleen, even in the heat and intensity of the final rounds.  What was clearly more important to you was to share that experience with a close friend.  That is the part of you, Billy, that makes me most proud, and that I see every time I look at you.  Your compassion for others, your zest for the joy of life’s experiences, and your ability to engage with others, and make them feel good.  Seems to make you feel good too, and that’s quite a gift.”

Where does that feel for friendship come from? I’d say good parenting. But maybe not. Can you teach friendship in a Friendshipology 101 class, or do you either have it or you don’t (nature vs. nurture)?

What could be studied in Friendshipology? Appreciation for all cultures, colors and points of view, of course. How about two years of mandatory public service, as in Peace Corps, Green Conservation Corps, Neighbors Abroad?

Or study Intense Rivalry and Competition. What’s better than watching two top-level tennis players hug at the net after spending hours trying to beat each other? Or spelling bee contestants.

Study Disney. Think of “Never Had a Friend Like Me” from “Aladdin” or “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from “Toy Story.”

Study Mr. Rogers. He’s in a renaissance just now.

There’s hope!

May, 2020


BILLY’s NOTES: Bill Shisltone (Bill) and Billy Lee (Billy) are members of a 70 AND-OVER group of tennis buddies who meet twice weekly to test what’s left of their muscles and brains. Billy is a reliable attendant. Bill, however, often could not make it due to his grandchildren baby-sitting duties. Bill is very close to and proud of his grandchildren. In Bill’s article above, I indeed learned most from Little Billy’s mother. Her right words at the right time produce Miracles !


WATCHING MY WORDS by Jane Constantineau May 2020

Jane Constantineau is a ghostwriter, editor, and book reviewer who specializes in biographies and memoirs. For more information, visit

Watching My Words

I work with words every day as a writer, editor, and book reviewer. My job often involves critiquing and changing people’s writing. While some old pros are unfazed by the angry-looking pencil marks of an editor or the cutting criticism of a book reviewer, most writers feel about one inch tall when someone finds fault with their work.

As a writer myself I have worked with many perfectly nice editors who I thought were really mean. This is the nature of getting feedback on our writing—it hurts. When I work as an editor, I never forget that writing makes us vulnerable, exposing a soft, sensitive underbelly that should be handled with care.

I take a piece of writing as seriously as the writer did, reading closely to discover big picture themes, structure, tone, and voice. If I feel an author missed the mark, I figure out why. Often, I can see what someone wanted to achieve and help them do it more effectively.

Also, I find bright spots in every manuscript, no matter how rough. All writers have a unique writing voice. Two people could convey the same information, and it would sound delightfully different. Developing a voice takes time and practice, but I can always find glimpses of it and help writers draw it out.

Finally, I try to convey to the clients I work with that writing is an art and a craft that never stops evolving and improving. Even the most seasoned writers revise their work endlessly, striving for perfection but rarely content that they have achieved it.

It would be a disservice to withhold honest criticism that could help a writer improve. But it would be worse to crush the spirit of someone trying their best. Editors walk that line, knowing that we might bruise egos but hoping that the superficial wound will heal and create a deeper understanding of the writing craft.


Billy’s notes: As classmate Ed Nef’s advisor on his forth-coming new book, which will include one of my articles, Jane advised that I change or delete a few words that may cause misunderstanding – even emotional discomfort. She was most thoughtful and diplomatic. I followed her advise and invited her to share some of her thoughts if she has the time. I thought that her skill and experience can help us all in our Friendship and Relationship Building. She generously provided the article above. Thank you, Jane !



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Phillips Academy Andover, located at Andover, Massachusetts, U.S.A. is indeed a wonderful Prep School for preparing young boys and girls to become good adult citizens. Its mottos as shown on the seal above are: “Non Sibi” ( Not For Self ) and “Fini Origine Pendet” ( The End Depends On The Beginning ). The school excels in “Humanities” and strives for “Knowledge & Goodness”. Prominent lecturers like Professors Angela Duckworth and Carol Dweck came to lecture on Definition of Character – The Heart, The Mind, and The Will, as well as Motivations, Strategies, and Creating Opportunities. The School gives equal emphasis on Academic Excellence as well as Personal Character. It encourages Inclusiveness, Diversity, Love, Caring, and Empathy. Indeed, I believe that it is a superb Incubator for training and building World Citizens. I learned that last year it had students attending from 52 different countries and 43 different states, and it has an outstanding “Learning In the World” program.

Part of the 500 acre campus

Not often talked about is the Friendships formed as students, faculties, and alumni (ae) of Phillips Andover. Thus I like to take this opportunity to introduce a special friend and classmate, George Rider, an “ Admired Jock” in Football, Hockey, and LaCross during our school years, a successful Wall Street Financier throughout his adult life, and an accomplished writer and author after retirement. He is the author of “ The Rogue’s Road to Retirement “- published in 2015, and he has a new book coming: “All Ahead Full. 88 Years in My Wake”.

George has been our PA’51 class’s long time Alumni Correspondence Secretary. I did not realize how important that role was until I started to study and do research on Friendship and Friendshipology. Due to his personal enthusiasm and his creative writing skill, his columns in PA Alumni Magazines have always been something that many classmates and myself look forward to reading with high anticipation. More than other class reports, his news stir up deep feelings joyful or sad. This actually has helped many of us know many other classmates much deeper and more appreciatively. George has been, indeed, our CONNECTOR, our GLUE, our FACILITATOR, and I must point out that he has always shown real appreciation for his “International Friends” – myself included luckily.

Last week, George sent me a section of his upcoming book- a section titled: “SOME ENCHANTED AFTERNOON “ Friendship “YOU’VE GOT TO BE CAREFULLY TAUGHT”. He started off with “ I pinch myself, as I am reminded about how lucky I am. —— thoughts turned to Andover and four “International Classmates” directly affected by WWII. ” Presented below are portions of what George wrote about Billy MingSing Lee, George Strzetelski. Frank Yatsu, and Steve Yamamoto.

“ Billy came to America as the “lucky son of a prominent HongKong movie producer”. ——In Billy’s third year, his father’s business collapsed, Andover came to Billy’s rescue and granted him a full scholarship and a job washing dishes in the Beanery ( Kitchen & Dining Halls ). —–He went on to captain Andover’s soccer team and starred at Yale —– has become an avid advocate of “Home Stays” in both US and China —–his current project: ”To Promote Friendship – Be A Friend”.

“ George Strzetelski was born in Warsaw, Poland. George’s family resources had been wiped out —-but with luck and the help of his mother’s hairdresser, who also had wife of Andover’s Headmaster Dr. Claude Feuss as a customer——George was awarded a scholarship to Andover and also a job in the Beanery with Billy. —— George later worked his way through Duke University and Boston University School of Law.”

“In 1947, the term Political Correctness had not yet been hatched. The war and its aftermath were still front and center at the time when as 15 year-olds, we were just starting to grasp the significance of what had just happened, and were beginning to question why.”

“Frank Yatsu, first Asian American to become a trustee of Brown University—— at 8 years old was transported to a desert camp in Arizona which held 17,000 internees. —Frank expressed: “I was too young at the time to understand the political and cultural significance of the internment of the Japanese Americans, but the contrasting juxtaposition of interment and my attending Andover have made me realize the greatness of America- that it can learn from past prejudices and injustice to seek a more perfect union”. ——-Senior year, Frank was Head Waiter at the Beanery as well as President of our Student Council.”

“ Of all the wonderful, enduring friendships I made at Andover, Steve Yamamoto’s story and how he arrived at Andover is the most compelling. —–Steve came from a family of three generations of naval officers –all Admirals. ——-in 1944 , when he was a 7th grader in Tokyo, attacks by B-24 and B-29s became more frequent —— they moved to a remote area along the Japan Sea coast. —— This first indiscriminate firebombing of Tokyo on March 10, 1945 claimed 8000 lives.  Steve recounted, “ I vaguely remembered being with my father over the bombarded area from our yard. —-This was his farewell visit before going on his last naval mission with the Japanese navy. He was 42 when he died. ——- dropping of a “new type of bomb” on Hiroshima on August 6 —- August 15th recorded message by the Emperor —-Japan had surrendered—— There was a sense of relief that there would be no more air raids and no more black curtains to keep the house dark on hot summer nights.”

“ Steve’s mother spoke fluent English and got a job as a receptionist at what was to become the U.S. Embassy.—–On the basis of verbal aptitude test scores, school transcripts, and a few letters of recommendation, Steve was given a full scholarship to Andover. —– He came to Andover in the fall of 1950 from a still Allied Occupied Japan —– “I was oblivious to the possibility that there might be hostile reception in America. I encountered none when I arrived in San Francisco, and during the long bus ride to Washington D.C. a passenger even gave me one dollar for spending money.” ——- a classmate arranged a blind date for Steve to attend a tea dance with Shirley Young an Abbot Academy senior. She was Chinese. ” Shirley had every reason to refuse to be my blind date because of what had happened to her father in Manila during the Japanese occupation. Yet she agreed to come. I was mortified when she told me about what happened when we met. We parted “friends” and saw each other on occasion at Yale.” Many classmates may have assumed that Admiral Yamamoto who led the Pearl Harbor surprise attack was Steve’s father or grand-father, but we embraced Steve without prejudice. We later found out that they were indeed both Admiral Yamamoto but not the same person. “

As Class Secretary ( Alumni Correspondence Secretary ), George Rider has served as our communicator and made special efforts to induce many classmates to stay in touch and contribute to his columns. He received a “Message of Gratitude for Classmates” from Steve, prior to our 60th Reunion: “Thank you again for all your friendship. My Andover Year was very pleasant, rewarding, and an auspicious beginning of my very exciting life both in the United States and Japan.” Yamamoto received a full scholarship from Yale, graduated in 1955, Summa Cum Laude, A PhD from Yale also in Physics. Did his thesis on nuclear physics. —After 20 years of living and working in America, he returned to Japan with his wife Keiko and children. ——-In 1969 he accepted an offer from Tokyo University ——– Retired at 60 and was made professor emeritus.

Rider concluded in that chapter of his new book: “ My father used to say that Friendship is the finest ship that sails ! My four years at Andover were the defining years of my life. ( Indeed, Fini Origine Pendet ). Sharing the educational experience and the trials and tribulation of maturing, with classmates rich and poor, foreign and homegrown, standup individuals coping with situations common to all during our years together at Andover, has left an indelible imprint on me. Reflecting and Remembering in the afterglow is a dividend I will never cash ! My good fortune continues ! “

I like to take this opportunity to point out that Friendships initiated at Andover were thus further extended and nurtured. Classmate George Rider’s contribution as our Alumni Class Secretary has benefitted us all immeasurably. Giving his time, his skill, his heart and spirit for bringing out and sustaining Goodfeelings, and High Spirit among us Old Friends is truly a much appreciated and admirable NON SIBI ( Not for Self) Accomplishment . 

Thank you, George ! Thank you, Phillips Academy Andover !

Remembering My Best Friend, Frank Tung – 何毓琦的科学网 Larry Y.C. Ho’s – Nov. 2011

Larry, Frank, and Billy joined FF Fraternity together in Winter 1951. When BIlly asked Larry to contribute an article for this website, Larry selected the following article he wrote nine years ago to express his deep feelings about FRIENDSHIP.

Billy, Frank, and Larry together in early 1990s

My best friend, Frank Tung passed away five years ago on 11/15/06. I have known Frank longer than even his own immediate family – a total of 55 years since 1951 when we both worked at our first job in a summer resort in Vermont.  Later we became college roommates and majored in the same discipline at MIT.  We were also initiated into the same college Fraternity at the same time. In the fifties, fraternity hazing was at its height. I still remember the remark Frank made after the initiation, “If this is what they do to you when they picked you to be brothers, what happens when they don’t like you”. During college years we even chased after the same girl. But never became jealous of each other and Frank was far more successful. There is an old saying about love, “Men like to be a women’s First Love. Women like to be a man’s Last Love”. Both Frank and I shared that fortune. We proposed to our wives of over 50 years simultaneously (but separately of course) after a double date on Valentine’s Day in 1959. We were best men at each other’s wedding; Godparents to each other’s first-born son and had the same number of children and grandchildren. In terms of careers, except for a few years away in CA and MI resp., we each spent our entire adult life in Greater Boston in one job.  To top it off, which two persons in the world can say that they share consecutive Social Security Numbers. Other moments we shared are too many to mention. But one example illustrates them. On the morning my wife and I were going to move into our first house, I came down with a kidney stone attack which was excruciatingly painful. I had to be hospitalized. Overnight there was a snowstorm in addition. In desperation and with two small children of 5 and 3 whom would my wife call? Frank quit work immediately and personally shoveled a path to our new house and helps settle in my wife and two small children. Thus, while we may not be brothers in blood, but certainly in name and in fact.

Finally, we retired within one year of each other. But Frank did not stop his public service. He was invited to chair a study sponsored by the prestigious National Academy of Engineering on FAA preparedness and restructuring. In his typically modest way, I don’t think he even mentioned this to me, his friend.

During retirement, we were members of a lunch club by the name of Romeo, which stands for “Retired Old Men Eating Out”. We took turns to pick a restaurant each month for a leisurely lunch from 11:30 am to past 2 pm. Members ages from 76 to 97. Thus Frank and I were at the younger end of the spectrum. The unofficial motto of the club which is also due to Shakespeare – a famous quote in which Shakespeare wrote “Isn’t it strange that “desire” outlives by so many years over “performance?” to which Frank and I always responded by “speak for yourself and not for me”. During these lunches, we talk about anything and everything, China, politics, religion, and even sex. Our first meeting next year will be at Frank’s favorite restaurant and we shall order his favorite dishes.

I think it is also fate that we never got to say goodbye to each other since I was away on an extended trip and did not even know he was seriously ill. In this sense and in my mind, he is still with us. This is only a temporary separation. So here to you, Frank. Reserve a seat at the Romeo table on the other side. I’ll be joining you in due time.

On this day of Thanksgiving and Remembrance in 2011, I am privileged to call Frank my Best Friend.


Friendship (友谊), Loyalty (忠) and Righteousness (義) Unity-in-Diversity versus Polarization – by Stephen Lee

STEPHEN LEE A Fellow Founding Member of The 1990 Institute – always there when Billy needs input in critical thinking .

Combination of words create mental images in our mind, often leading to emotion or tension in this case. Our reaction to these images may be action or more thoughts.

Among Bill’s friends, I am probably most unqualified to write about friendship, loyalty, or righteousness. On the other hand, because these words are not innate to me, encountering them together has stirred anew my thinking and led my mind to explore their relevance to me in the current global situation. That settled the title of this essay.

Almost immediately, the word polarization came up, and in no time, its opposite concept in which I have always believed, unity in diversity, popped into my consciousness. It is thus only natural that I choose these two concepts as the subtitle.

Friendship is easy when no substantial gain or loss are involved. 君子之交淡如水 (Gentlemen’s friendship is bland as water.) There are probably numerous Chinese sayings about friendship. That this one surged to my mind without effort tells me why I have had few friends in my life. It also explains why loyalty is not high in my list of values.

Loyalty is towards a person or an ideal. It implies constancy of motivation and actions. It may even require or at least encourage unquestioning. To me, it is danger and a potential barrier against objectivity and its non-aligned values, such as equality for all, trade-off with other alternative or competing values.

Righteousness is measured according to some standard. How are standards set? Who set them? Are they universally accepted? What are the consequences of not following the standards of righteousness agreed by the majority of a community? Is freedom of belief higher than the community’s standards of righteousness? What are the consequences on an individual upon breaking the community’s standards of righteousness? What are the rewards for upholding or advancing such standards? Are they socio-religious consequences or legal consequences? Let me stop our thoughts here, lest we detour away from the subtitle.

If we label Loyalty and Righteousness as “virtues”, then we affirm (at least subconsciously) that they have polarities. Loyal vs disloyal. Righteous vs unrighteous. If we become convinced that one direction is good and the opposite direction is evil, we may succumb to polarization. On a more inclusive consideration of other ideals and effects, for example, equality, respect, love and forgiveness, etc., then we can find our personal equilibrium.

Polarization can turn friends into enemies in the extreme, or at least strangers if one is more charitable. In the former outcome, cohesiveness with like-minded friends is the right and loyal thing to do. In the latter case, diversity of values can be tolerated but not advocated. Unity in both cases is out of the question.

Sadly, this is a significant and current mentality of the world. Its manifestation in the media is most vocal and its effects on the global and personal relationships are alarming.

How can unity be regained while retaining diversity? Or how can polarization be reversed?

I have a mental aid that dawned on me recently. Remember the combination of three keys to perform a Reboot or Reset of the old personal computer?

Control + Alternate + Delete.

Before I explain it, let me quote a short passage from one Confucian classic, “The Doctrine of the Mean 中庸”:

“While there are no stirrings of pleasure, anger, sorrow, or joy, the mind may be said to be in the state of Equilibrium. When those feelings have been stirred, and they act in their due degree, there ensues what may be called the state of Harmony. This Equilibrium is the great root from which grow all the human actings in the world, and this Harmony is the universal path which they all should pursue.”


Back in the 1960’s growing up in Hong Kong, this Confucian classic did not resonate with me. Modernization meant Westernization. The middle ground just seemed compromise, mediocrity, static and conservative. Now, seventy two years old, I learned that Confucius had anticipated such criticisms.

“The Master said, “I know how it is that the path of the Mean is not walked in:-The knowing go beyond it, and the stupid do not come up to it. I know how it is that the path of the Mean is not understood:-The men of talents and virtue go beyond it, and the worthless do not come up to it.”

In thirty years, the good will between US and China has changed substantially. If not turned 180 degrees, it must be at least 90 degrees? Why and how can it be reversed?

Obviously this is a very complex and difficult subject to discuss, explain and prescribe a way out. Instead, I would start from the Reset button and describe how a simple mental reminder working on each and every one of us may help change the global direction. I wrote the following a few months ago.

With polarization having “semi permanently” moved us apart, causing us to fixate our mental and spiritual base points away from the common center we used to share, in the silence of our souls, we can examine our shifted base points, and remember that the key to being centered and balanced is to hit the RESET button when we are acting or reacting from our current polarized base points.

The three RESET steps are:

Control our emotions and reflex triggered by the encounter.

Consider Alternate thoughts and possible explanations, assessments and reactions triggered by the encounter. Instead of reacting from our own biased set point, reflect on whether the other side has a valid point. Or that the other side did not really mean what was said. Or that the other side had no bad intention. Or that the other side was under emotional duress. Recall also how we have behaved or said things we did not really mean and hurt others. Remind ourselves that we have an alternative choice on our reaction, that of seeking a balance between our different set points. Recall the past equilibrium, especially when we were loving and hopeful then.

Delete whatever that keeps us fixated in our momentary “conviction”. In the silence and emptiness of emotion, we reflect on our personal values and lessons we have learned and will endeavour to learn.

Let it be Unity in Diversity.



Bill knows that my better half can provide a complementary perspective to my writing. After receiving her feedback, I realized that my essay has been cold and without the essence of Friendship. Emotions and warm feelings have their attraction to all human beings.

So I will bring us back to the motivation which can attract even polarized people towards one another.

What common values do all people share?

Happiness is probably the most common answer I hear from friends when I ask them their purpose of life.

What makes people happy? Being with loved ones is again probably the most common answer. For the last two to three months, sheltered at home, have we reflected on our lives and re-affirmed what make us happy and motivated to go on?

Are there individuals among our friends with whom we disagree with on some issues? Surely there are. Do we still count them as our friends? Do we wish them good health and happiness? Surely we do.

That still little voice in our hearts is what will bring us all back together!



Ed Nef – Billy Lee’s 70+year-long friend from Phillips Andover

Author of “Life Out Loud – A Memoir of Countless Adventures and No Regrets”  –

My father Victor Nef set up a good example for us all as a distinguished diplomat who had served his motherland, Switzerland, throughout his four decades’ career.  He helped Switzerland maintain strong friendship with the United States and Canada and others.  During World War II, as Swiss Consul General in New York, he was one of the primary commercial contacts between the United States and the Axis Powers.  This was an extremely important responsibility since Switzerland was the primary independent neutral country serving as an intermediary between the Allies and the Axis.  

In 1959, I followed my father’s footsteps by joining the US diplomatic service as a Foreign Service Officer (FSO) where for the next 25 years it was my responsibility to promote friendship between the United States and various countries with very different political structures.  In my nearly seven decades’ career life, I was promoting international friendship in nearly each job I took: from FSO, to Peace Corps official, to language school owner, where my responsibilities always centered around developing friendly relations with citizens of other countries.  As a matter of fact, what stimulated me to start a new adventure — producing documentaries — was during my first trip to Vietnam when I was nicely surprised and touched by the sincere willingness of the Vietnamese people, long our fiercest enemy, to reconcile with the United States and to establish friendly relations.  To this day I still have many good friends in those countries, such as Mongolia and Vietnam.  

All my three daughters have joined me to travel internationally, not only as tourists, but also as project managers/partners, film crew members and so on.  Any of these job responsibilities always required a focus on establishing friendly relations with our local hosts and co-workers.

– Christine: traveled to Zambia to build a home for a single mother; to Mongolia to help build my language school. 

– Patricia: traveled to Senegal to help me produce a film focusing on how Senegalese women liberated themselves from frequently unhappy circumstances and happily accepted our offers of friendship; she also traveled to Mongolia with her two sons to learn Mongolian culture.

– Stefanie: traveled to Mongolia with me to become acquainted with a foreign culture and befriend local children and adults.

All my four grandchildren have traveled internationally, first with their grandparents and parents, now on their own, to see much of the world and also to learn different cultures and histories.  This is how the family legacy of promoting international friendship is being carried on. 

Ed’ Parents Mr. & Mrs. Victor Nef – 1920s Mr.Victor Nef was Swiss Consular Officer in the United States
Ed Nef started a school in Mongolia
Daughter Stefanie assisting Ed in Mongolia
Grandson Andrew exploring in

Nef Family Vacation – Ed & Liz with daughters, son-in-laws & grand children



BILLY:  Inspired by What you did. Please elaborate a bit on “WHY” and “HOW”.

NEF:    In answering your question regarding “WHY” and “HOW”:

I was raised as someone who appreciates multi-cultural upbringing: a Swiss father, a Polish mother, and American upbringing, and during my lifetime living in seven countries and visiting all seven continents (including Antarctica), in addition to the Arctic.

To me, the story of Arctic explorer Alexander Mackenzie is one of the most touching stories of survival in the Arctic, based upon inter-human relations:
Circa 1790, Mackenzie was returning to his distant ship after all the other crew members had died.  He was alone and helpless, and came upon a small rescue hut built by him on his outbound journey, as a possible rescue station for the return.  He entered the hut and collapsed, thinking he was going to die very shortly.  Maybe as long as a day or so later, as he lay dying, there was a knock on the door.  In walked a native person, who happened to be in the area.  Both men were bowled over by surprise.  Of course the native person immediately set about resuscitating the dying man.  As one can imagine, presumably a bond was built between a native person and a Western explorer.  I often think of the story when I travel in remote areas. Although I never had such dramatic experiences, I did develop strong friendship with locals and appreciation of how such friendship can be incredibly important.

BILLY: I really admire your Natural Friendliness, your Exploratory Spirit, your Deliberate Efforts to Reach-out Globally, and the Effectiveness in Helping People Where It Counts Most.  To be able to relay this spirit to your descendants is especially admirable.



By  Billy Lee 李名信   April 2020

When Covid-19 Pandemic started to spread in the United States, many universities closed and left a number of foreign students stranded. My young friend, Jackson Barkstrom , from Richmond Virginia was a Third-year student at Brown University ( Providence, Rhode Island ). He learned that two schoolmates on his Brown China Summit Committee were for some reason unable to return to their homes in China.   With consent and even strong encouragement from his Mom ( Tina ), Stepfather ( Brent ), and younger Brother ( Walker – a freshman at Brown) , he warmly offered Homestay to his stranded friends.  They are now six of them living and weathering the pandemic together as one family – not knowing how long this crisis will last.

It was through Homestays that I got to know Jackson’s family. Near the end of my Freshman Year at Yale, Jackson’s Grandfather, David Gregg III, who was on the Freshman soccer team with me, approached me and asked if I would like to room with him the following year. We became roommates for three consecutive undergraduate years 1952-1955.

During those years, I enjoyed Homestays at the Gregg’s home in Darien, Connecticut so many times I can not even remember, but I shall always remember vividly the warm and kind smiles of Mr. Mrs. David Gregg Jr., and the special earnest and attentive look of David’s younger brother, Arthur. I shall always remember the various efforts they made to keep me entertained and to teach me about the American Way of Life.

I grew most deeply attached to Mrs. Gregg whom I affectionately called Virginia. In my mind, she became my American Mother – in many ways closer and more intimate than my natural mother in China.

Our friendship endured, grew deeper, as well as expanded to embrace more members from each side of our families. This was possible because we made efforts to keep in touch despite of David and Virginia’s passing. I think Tina now assumes Virginia’s Leadership role. Indeed, Friendship requires deliberate reaching out and helping each other. It requires true Compassion. In my view, Tina is much like Virginia.

We remain connected with Arthur and Sarah, but became more closely connected with Tina and Jackson who in the middle of his high school years developed a special interest in China and U.S.-China Relations. Four years ago, we introduced Jackson to a 1990 Institute sponsored Project, inviting American High School students to visit China and teach English at a Chinese primary school.  Last year as a representative from Brown’s China Summit he volunteered at the 1990 Institute’s Teachers’ workshop on “CHINA TODAY” -coordinating speakers’ speaking time.

We were delighted to hear that Jackson’s Family so generously offered Homestay to two Chinese students at this very scary time. We wanted to know how they manage. The following is what Jackson wrote to me:

Dear UB, ( Uncle Billy  )

Here are two pictures from Summer and Helen’s stay. The first is Summer and I gave my brother a haircut, and the second is a photo from our dog’s birthday celebration

Summer is from Suzhou went to Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania (fun fact, I played her school in squash!)… she said she feels like family here and loves having two brothers. She gets along very well with our sense of humor. 

Helen is from Shanghai and went to high school in China. We recently got her addicted to our favorite type of ice cream… last week Brent ordered 12 pints of Graeter’s Ice Cream, his favorite from his Cincinnati hometown, and Helen likes it more than any of us. She ordered another 12 pints that came in the mail yesterday, and made a post endorsing it on 知乎… Graeter’s ice cream is about to be Chinese internet-famous!! Her Zhihu account is apparently very popular. 

Helen introduced us to an anime (Japanese animated tv series called Stein’s Gate) about a hilarious mad scientist and his time-traveling adventures… all four of us (Walker, Helen, Summer, me) love it and we’ve been having “anime night” every couple days. Summer, Walker, and I also recently played tennis outside, on our patio, with chairs as the net.

My brother and I taught our friends some funny dance moves (i.e. the “crab rave” and the “floss”) as well as the art of silly walking. We really enjoyed dancing that evening after my brother presented his specialty – Walker’s Portuguese egg tarts- for supper.

Overall it’s been great, we haven’t really been able to leave the house but we’ve been keeping ourselves entertained.



I am so glad that they are extra innovative in finding ways to keep life joyful, but I also know that not knowing the end of the tunnel is extremely stressful. I can imagine the strain in putting up a happy face for your hosts or vise versa every moment of every day. It’s taxing. Homesick emotions sometimes cannot be restrained, and to host two foreign guests in the middle of house moving is definitely not easy. These particular friends of mine, however, will overcome all these challenges, because their COVID-19 Homestay Experience is shared and will forever be remembered with LOVE, COMPASSION, and GRATITUDE.


“To promote Cross-cultural Friendship, increasing understanding about people and their difficult conditions can help. My writing – Reflective Thoughts – these days focus on upgrading Understanding. “

By : Bill W.Kwong – Global Educator and Program Consultant – April 2020

BA: Cornell MA: NYU & Stanford / 35+years teaching experience in N.Y.C. and S.F. / Previous Dir. of Global Initiative – Crystal Springs Uplands Sch. – Hillsborough, Ca. / Conducted educational immersive travel experiences since 1991 – mostly Asia – particularly China / Member – 1990 Institute Board of Directors – Promoting Trust and Understanding between U.S. and China

Reflective Thoughts and Stories: Entry #1

Many decisions from China often puzzle those who look at things through American lenses. I find it helpful to share the comparison elaborated below with my colleagues and students when I try to get them to understand why China does what it does. 

Geographically, U.S. and China have roughly the same landmass.  In terms of population, China has slightly more than 4 times that the U.S. has. In terms of land where you can grow food, U.S. has about 1.5 times that China has. The same landmass has been continuously cultivated for at least 2 to 3 thousand years in China when the land in the U.S. has only been heavily used after the Europeans arrived in the 16th century.

Sustaining a lot more people with a lot less land, particularly land that has been heavily used for a much longer time, requires a different kind of governing.

To bring this home to my friends who teach at independent schools, I ask them to consider the management of China and the U.S. similar to working with students situated in two different classrooms.  First, I invite my friends to think of teaching 72 teenagers in a classroom that is the same size as the one they currently have in an independent school. In this extremely crowded room, the students only have a fraction of the books, usable pens, and pencils. In addition, these overused instruments are generally worn, books come with torn pages, and pencils are broken. Teachers assigned to teach in this room are looking at a class that is far different than what we generally find in an elite independent school. In the more affluent school setting familiar to my friends, each of the 18 students belonging to a class comes to school every day with “new” books, functional equipment, and connection to a vast amount of resources. Two very different conditions indeed.

In the classroom I am accustomed to teaching in my independent school, I encourage free-flow sharing of ideas.  Students are allowed to speak their minds and inject their thoughts into the discussion without raising their hands.  When a student violates a rule, I have time to rationalize with the offender to show my care and to give him the extra dose of motivation to do better. Students feel validated, respected, and encouraged to embrace their individual aims and values.

In the other classroom, to get anything done so the arena can resemble a place of learning, I imagine that establishing and maintaining order would be the key.  Students have to wait for their turns to speak and speaking may be limited to a fixed time on the schedule.  Violations will be severely punished, often publicly so all can learn from the example.  Rule breakers will think twice before daring to disrupt the proceedings again. Individual requests serving the needs of a few do not have a chance to gain recognition when the needs of the mass are deemed supreme. It is very difficult to manage this classroom.  The purpose and the goal often focus on “survival”.  To get anything done, strict adherence to a rigid structure is crucial for its existence.   

This comparison often helps my fellow teachers and others to understand that the American style of government with its emphasis on freedom of speech, individual pursuit of happiness, and democracy are difficult to achieve and not necessarily suitable when it comes to governance in China today.

What FRIENDSHIP and RELATIONSHIP mean to my ANDOVER-YALE classmate BOB DORAN ( PA’51 YC’55 )

When Billy Lee first asked me to write a little something on friendship, I quickly thought of my many relationships. But then I saw the differences and similarities between the two.

I have many fewer friendships than relationships, and my friendships are deeper and more powerful than my many relationships. But they do have things in common:

            Gender is not a factor in either…    

         Nor is race or nationality…

            And the time spent together doesn’t matter…

            And both can happily go on and on.

That said, it’s better to have both than neither.

A friendship can have a very simple beginning…a handshake, nod or smile. But over time, and over changing times, it becomes deeper and more meaningful for any number of reasons. In life, stuff happens; over time, a relationship can become a close friendship.

When I think back, my early friendships started at Andover. Of a list of 8 friendships I highlighted there, 4 have died, and one has Alzheimer’s. Those living remain close friends, and those we have lost are meaningful memories

The list of friendships formed at Yale has 10 names, and again, 4 are no longer alive. Some became highly recognized but, surprisingly, the friendship only got deeper. Music was a factor in some of the friendships, and art was a factor in others.

And then to highlight the impact of forming friendships at educational institutions, I recall five at Harvard Business School that made a difference in my life, or I made in theirs. One had something to do with helping me get my first professional job, a profession he also chose. Another became deeply involved in my professional life during a difficult time. One has died.

I also developed friendships with our landscape designer, art dealers, our trainer and our rental house postman. And I have close friends on Martha’s Vineyard and San Juan Island. These friendships were formed “in season” but have deepened over time. The location of the friend is irrelevant.

I had the opportunity to join three others to form our own company. The friendship between the four of us was tested during a very difficult time, but it simply got stronger and the company survived and flourished…and our relationship and friendship did, too.

The ultimate irony is that I developed a friendship with someone that I had to fire from our company. In spite of our friendship, his management style was inconsistent with the company’s culture and he had to be let go. That individual has since died but my memories of our many conversations will never be forgotten.  



Billy: Please tell me more about “The Ultimate Irony”

Bob: See two attachments

Billy: Thanks. I learned the following lessons from you: 1. Be honest, sincere, yet empathetic while sorting out differences. 2. Always appreciate and respect other’s positive qualities. 3. Must reach out deliberately to ignite, embrace, and nurture Relationships and Friendships. 4. Sometimes Friendship deepens after a struggle.


The stories of the website: Build connections, carry on helping each other

By Yilu 2020.04.03

In June 2019, I received Billy’s email which says he has got a stroke and needed to do something before it’s too late. “I hope some of you will do something to help the world improve the way we relate to each other.”

Actually, Billy’s thoughts have affected many of us, making me start to think about the meaning of life and what we can to do carry on our precious humanity. When Billy’s in a bad health situation in June 2019, he wrote a letter during his wakeup to talk about what we can do to help children get a right. In that letter he emphasizes:

I think that all parents need to protect their own children but must be careful not to teach them to make quick all black vs all white , all good vs. all evil judgements. Indeed, people in this World are not all good or all bad. Every person has good qualities and misguided qualities. We should acknowledge and promote Goodness in all people. We should identify Bad Traits and Misdeeds, but should not condemn people totally.

I read about it and realized it would be great to let more parents see it. After all, Billy has devoted years in researching education and friendship, he knows more about them. So I decided to record Billy’s thoughts, hope that one day, those recordings could spread further and affect more people.

One of the things I learned from Billy is when we decide to do something, we should do it “before it’s too late.”

I discussed my ideas with my friends Wenmo and Yihua, they’re both very supportive, we figured out how to run this project very quickly, Yihua, as an engineer, helps to set up this website, Wenmo helps to manage the website. Later, we found another friend: Tingting, she helped us a lot in translation.

I’m more than grateful that the other three friends are of great help in this project. I’d like to introduce them one by one here to show my appreciation.

This article is all about the cute friends who help to build up this website for Billy and the stories of them !

Wenmo loves drawing, she recently has published a drawing series on her own website, telling the stories happened around her.

Yihua’s hobbies are a slightly special: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, rock climbing, Japanese (he has learned Japanese by himself for over two years) he always wants to make life shine more.

Tingting is currently an English teacher in Beijing, she loves to travel, yummy food and movie, just like all the other young girls of her age. Maybe you will be surprised, I haven’t met her so far, we just contact online and do this work together. We become friends online from strangers. haha~

I used to read about some books on psychology, those authors are trying to tell us the greatest happiness comes from the connections between people. Making friends is just like building connections, and the miraculous part of it is that when we know someone is caring about us, and we need to care about them, we don’t feel lonely even though we all came to this world all by ourselves. And I appreciate teamwork very much, it makes me feel powerful to work with different people for the same goal. I wanna say to my dear friends, thank you. Let’s “carry one our precious humanity”.

Here are the stories told by the three friends.

@ Wenmo

In July, my close friend Yilu asked me to help collect Billy’s articles and upload them to the website. I joined her without hesitation because I think she’s a very nice person and I wanna do things together with her. Yilu then told me about the story of Billy, I found out Billy is actually very charming. The more I read about his articles, the more I like him.

I have to say, Billy’s values and lifestyle really attract me that I think it’s a meaningful thing to collect his articles and spread them to more people.   

图片包含 人, 男人, 建筑, 雪


@ Yihua

My thoughts are quite simple and straight forward. I’m in this project because Yilu wants me to help, she’s my friend, and friends help each other O(∩_∩)O

@ Tingting

I think my life’s get a little bit different after I get to know Billy, a truly talented and passionate “young man”.

In August 2019, I saw a message from our alumni WeChat group, it says, “We need a volunteer translator with the knowledge of education to help…” Back then I knew nothing about the person who sent it to the group chat, but I was touched by her because of her passion for life through her words. And I appreciated it that she also volunteered to do something for others with her spare time, I decided to contact her.

Then she introduced Billy to me, I learned that Billy cares a lot about education in both China and the US and has done his efforts to help improve it.

I didn’t expect Billy is such a passionate “young man”, always wants to contribute to society. I was impressed by him deeply even though I haven’t met him before. I immediately joined that team to do the translation on weekends.

The work of translation also makes me rethink my way of education, from this perspective the work is a special gift to me. I really hope we can continue to do more meaningful things for others and society.