Kenny Wang's Diary

Tuesday, May 31, 2005 Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Tuesday, March 3, 2005 Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Tuesday, February 8, 2005  

Tuesday, May 31, 2005 Because of some very urgent environment, health, and safety (EHS) business that requires my presence at my location, I had to withdraw from the Earthwatch expedition. It was a really big decision for me. I knew that I would be the first Alcoa employee from China to join the program, and I appreciated the opportunity. But committing to EHS is the first priority for every Alcoa employee, and even more so for me since I am the EHS manager.
I actually received my visa two weeks ago—I thought not getting it would have been the reason I could not go to Portugal.  I also had bought and prepared some T-shirts with Chinese characters for the expedition leaders and team members. Now I can just keep them for other possible opportunities, as I will definitely be applying to participate in a future Earthwatch expedition.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005 After receiving and reading the expedition briefing package from Earthwatch last week, I realized my first job is to apply for the entry visa to Portugal because it will take the longest time in the whole process.

In the travel planning section of the briefing papers, I noted that Chinese people need to apply for a tourist visa to get into Portugal.  Today, I got a chance to go to the Austrian consulate in Shanghai, which issues visas on behalf of Portugal because that country does not have a consulate here.

I was surprised to find that the consulate only accepts applications for short- or long-term business trip entry visas or tourist visas applied for by a travel agency for a group of people—not for one person. A tourist visa for one person is very hard to get approved. I then contacted the staff working in the Beijing embassy, and I got the same answer.
This is a serious problem, and it may lead to my canceling the trip. I decided I needed help from Alcoa and Earthwatch, so I sent an email explaining China’s special situation to the people in charge of the program at both organizations.
I took some photos of the contents of the expedition briefing package that can be found in my photo gallery. I like the T-shirt and the wording on its back.

Tuesday, March 3, 2005 Today I got an email from Kerri McNulty, one of my colleagues working in AFL corporate in Farmington Hill, Michigan (USA). She forwarded to me an Alcoa press release on the Earthwatch program dated March 3, 2005. Here is some of the release, including the content related to my team:

Alcoa today announced that 15 employees and contractors from Alcoa locations across the globe have been selected as Earthwatch Institute fellows and will participate in scientific research expeditions around the world as part of the company's overall conservation and sustainability efforts.
A few of the expeditions that the fellows will participate in include…Algarve, Portugal: Alcoa representatives from the USA and China will help scientists learn about Europe's most mysterious and smallest seabird, the storm petrel. The findings will help reveal complex links among climate change, ocean ecosystems, and the bird’s survival.
“Alcoa is committed to environmental education projects that assist scholars in building a sustainable future for our world. We view this program as an investment in our people, in our environment, in our company, and in the Earth's future,” said Pat Atkins, Alcoa's director of environmental affairs. “This partnership helps to further educate our workforce about the important role that nature and our environment have on our daily lives. Many times when they return, they begin to approach their jobs and their personal lives with a different perspective.”
I am very impressed by Pat’s last sentence. I am looking forward to starting the expedition soon.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005 Today I received an email from Karl Eliason with Alcoa Closure Systems International. He is another volunteer for the Storm Petrels over Portugal expedition, and we will be on the same team. We introduced ourselves, and I told him that I previously worked for Alcoa CSI in China. We are becoming close friends without even meeting yet.
Karl has been with Alcoa CSI for 17 years, previously working in engineering but now in information technology. He mostly supports the engineering computer-aided design systems, but he also works on the intranet and document management. He is 43 years old, married, and has four children. He told me that he has been interested in nature and the environment since he was young, and the Earthwatch program has interested him since he first heard about it. A coworker of his went on an Earthwatch expedition to Costa Rica in 2003 and came back very enthusiastic about the program.

Tuesday, February 8, 2005 In the morning, I received an email from corporate Environment, Health and Safety (EHS). I was very, very excited to have been selected to participate in the Earthwatch expedition program. Words cannot describe my feelings at that time. Everyone in the office was also very excited when hearing the great news.
As an Alcoa employee in China, I am honestly very proud for all of Alcoa’s Chinese employees, as this is first time one of us is participating in the program. I do not know how important this would be to employees in other Alcoa locations, but it is very important to us in China.
As I committed to in my application letter, I will share the trip report and experiences with as many Chinese colleagues in different locations as possible to let them know of the program and understand Alcoa's EHS commitment—a commitment backed by actions and not just words.
Meanwhile, I would like to thank Alcoa and Earthwatch and to offer season’s greetings.  Today is the eve of the Chinese Spring Festival, which is like Christmas to many in the western world.
I am looking forward to receiving further information on the trip’s arrangements.

Photo Gallery

View the images from Kenny Wang's diary.

Earthwatch Institute

Learn more about this international nonprofit, which supports scientific field research worldwide.

Storm Petrels over Portugal

Learn more about the expedition and its scientists.