A small photo of a big man, President Ma of Taiwan, who received us in his palace in Taipei earlier this year. The hospitality of Taipei YMCA was quite overwhelming. They received the first group of the YMCA Peace Voyage in the most splendid style. So when the invitation to attend their 70 years anniversary landed on my table, I answered yes and booked my tickets.
I do not regret that at all. First of all there were 50 foreign guests, which meant that I could meet key YMCA leaders from all over Asia and have constructive and meaningful meetings with them at the many different tables we were seated at.
Secondly I could learn more from my friends in Taipei YMCA, a big and strong YMCA in Asia, through my colleagues David, James and Gilbert and all their colleagues and friends.
Here is David Lee in the moment of his retirement from the job as General Secretary in Taipei and the National Coordinator in Taiwan. David is a servant leader with tons of humility and a big smile all over his face, an admirable leader of the YMCA with a great sense of humor and a fantastic level of energy.
This is the Peace Voyage group from March this year, to the left in the first row you will see Yoshioka san, the leader of the Peace Boat Organization and a great friend of the YMCA.
On my left hand side is James Tou, the new General Secretary in Taipei YMCA, and on the right hand side of the table is Gilbert Chin, the Associate General Secretary. Eileen and others will recognize Gilbert, and across the table for Gilbert is the youngest participant that evening, the son of a volunteer YMCA leader.
Colorful evening in Taipei, on our way from another fantastic Chinese dinner, with no less than 12 courses, all of them deliciously wonderful!
Gilbert in front of the Palace Museum. Chiang Kai-shek brought the most precious and valuable of Chinese art and history to Taiwan when he had to leave mainland China in 1949, and the Palace Museum in Taipei contains the treasures of all the different Chinese dynasties. The Museum was also full of people from mainland China, and together we stood in lines to watch the different splendors of old China.
The fasade of the Palace Museum, a place where you easily can spend a full day just in one of the floors. I am coming back, Gilbert! I am coming back.
Leaders from YMCA Shanghai together with Shimada san, the General Secretary of Japan YMCA, and a hard shooting friend of mine.
Gilbert,Phyllis from Metropolitan YMCA in Singapore and James, the new leader of Taipei YMCA.
And here a good group of veteran volunteer leaders being honored during the 70 years celebrations.
Another 12 course celebratory dinner. Speeches were few and short, and therefore the meals very pleasant and collegial.
70 years since the beginning. 70 years of fantastic growth and strength. Taipei YMCA has a very strong standing in the society, and recently was given the management of a huge government sports centre in the middle of the city. We walked through the big building and were thoroughly impressed with what we saw.
And dear friends, for what it is worth, I tried for the first time to count the number of countries I have visited so far on this long journey, and I came to 82. 55 of them have been visited since I took over as the Secretary General of the World YMCA. Today I am writing to you from Geneva Airport, my home away from home, and I am flying to Prague and from there to Litomysl. First I will start the so called Safe Space Group tonight, and on Monday 70 leaders from around the world are coming together for the first ever World YMCA Strategy Delivery Summit. Wow! I cannot wait to meet up with this splendid group of friends who will come together for a week to assist us with ideas and plans and action steps to make the OUR WAY plan become reality.