Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Raiders Help Kick Off 2008 Season in China 

Posted by Sasha at 8:51 PM ET

September 18, 2008

Patty Herrera, Director of Multicultural Initiatives for The Oakland Raiders, and Raiderettes Ashlee, Ashley R., Emily and Erica were invited to China to assist with the NFL’s large-scale campaign to kick off not only the NFL’s 2008 season but also the continued efforts to introduce American football to China. Events featuring the Raiderettes were the first of an entire fall schedule that includes Tuesday night viewings of the weekend’s football games and much more.

During the trip, the Raiderettes chronicled their experiences.

Emily's Journal
Monday, September 8

We began the day by meeting the NFL China team at our hotel, the Grand Hyatt Beijing. We then left for Sina Studios, an entertainment, news and sports broadcasting network that includes Sina Sports, “the world’s largest Chinese-language sports portal.” The equivalent of a massive ESPN in China, we were honored to participate in an on-air, live interview and performance. The show lasted about an hour, with the questions covering the NFL’s presence and goals in China, NFL cheerleading, our itinerary in China, our individual experiences and thoughts. The interview was in Mandarin Chinese, with NFL China’s Richard translating the questions and answers.

We then all had lunch together and went to a sound check/rehearsal for that evening’s event, the NFL Kick-Off Party. The event was held at 1/5 Taverna, an indoor-outdoor collection of brick buildings and outdoor gardens. It included speeches by the NFL China team, NFL paraphernalia, NFL videos and presentations, and Raiderette performances (two dances each), autograph signings and photos. The reception included NFL China’s corporate sponsors and friends, and we even had the honor of meeting the Chief of Staff for the United States Embassy.

The reception was a blast! The crowd was comprised of football fans and people completely new to the sport, and our conversations reflected everything from discussing the Raiders’ hopes for China and the season back home, to explaining what we enjoy about the sport and why we encourage people to become fans.

Here is what Michael, NFL China Director, had to say about our visit to China: “We were thrilled to have the Raiderettes here in China as we celebrated the kick-off to the 2008 season. Your love of the game and passion for the Raiders was infectious and the Chinese were amazed by your talent and teamwork.”

And we, in turn, were amazed by the opportunity to represent Raiders and Raiderettes in China, the warm reception by the Chinese, and the potential for football and the NFL to have a global presence and a home in China.

Ashley R's Journal
Tuesday, September 9

We woke up at 5:30 this morning in Beijing and met downstairs in the lobby at 7:15 a.m. The girls and I anxiously waited for our friendly driver, Mr. Wong to pull up in front of the Hyatt. None of us have ever been to The Great Wall of China, so this was a first time experience for all of us. Mr. Wong drove up the hotel driveway and we loaded up in a hurry. We made a pit stop for coffee where we all fell in love with their whole wheat carrot muffins...mmm. They don't have those back home. We proceeded on our almost two-hour drive to the Great Wall.

As we were approaching the Great Wall, the scenery was very green. There was a little stream we drove by that had ducks swimming across and the trees around the stream were huge with ivy hanging from their branches. It reminded me of Jurassic Park. We got out of the bus and started walking to the entrance of the Great Wall. We had to take a chair lift up to the Great Wall, I was a little frightened because the chair lift kept climbing up the mountain higher and higher. After a large patch of fog floated by we saw the Great Wall for the first time. The sight of it gave me goose bumps.

We got off the chair lift and began walking up the stairs. Within a minute we were on top of the Great Wall. We couldn't stop taking pictures, we took one photo with all of ours hands touching the Great Wall for the first time. This is my favorite photo. After walking the Great Wall for about an hour, we started heading back to the bus. We had a very busy day ahead of us. We wanted to take the Toboggan (a slide that comes down the mountain) down to the parking lot but it was closed because it had rained the night before so it wasn't safe. So we took the chair lift back down the mountain, the second time wasn't so bad.

At around 12:30 we had a quick bite to eat before we headed out to Silk Street in Beijing. When we arrived at Silk Street I was overwhelmed with the amount of people and products. They had a total of four floors, each floor carried different items. The first floor had coats, jackets and jeans. The second floor had jewelry and watches, the third floor had handbags and accessories and the fourth floor had electronics and luggage. I wanted to buy everything. The shopping experience was so much different than it is at home. The merchant will tell you a price and then you can say yes or no. If you say no, they ask you what price you are willing to pay. After shopping for almost two hours we piled all of our purchases onto the bus and headed back to the hotel to prep for our multiple promos that were scheduled for the evening.

At 5:15 p.m. we were off to our first promo location. It was a sports bar called La Bamba. Within minutes of our arrival we were on stage performing our first two numbers. The excitement and energy of the crowd reminded us of the Raider fans back home. After performing, we signed autographs and watched the Monday night game with the China fans. At halftime we performed our second set of routines and then moved on to our second location.

At 10:30 p.m. we arrived at another sports bar where they were broadcasting the Monday night game as well. We performed four different routines and signed autographs. After the game was over, we walked up to the second floor of the sports bar where they had a quick photo shoot setup for us and a TV interview/commercial for CCTV 5. We were finished with the photo shoot and TV commercial around midnight. Today was an adventurous and memorable one, I can't wait to see what is lined up for tomorrow. The girls and I are very grateful and fortunate to be on this trip and we are representing the Raider Nation well.

Ashlee's Journal
Wednesday, September 10

Day number three in China was an eventful day! We woke up at around 5:30 a.m. to depart the Hyatt by 7:00 a.m. From there we drove to the Beijing airport where we flew to Shanghai. The flight to Shanghai was about two hours. So it was just enough time to get in a cat nap. With us on the flight was our fantastic NFL team, including Roy and Stephanie.

When we arrived in Shanghai the first thing we noticed was the difference in weather from Beijing. In Beijing the weather was overcast and raining, with 100 percent humidity. In Shanghai however, the first thing from getting off the airplane was the sunshine. It was extremely humid but the sun was shining and that made us all really excited. We got on the new bus and had a new bus driver named Mr. Lee. He was extremely excited to see us and was very helpful.

While riding to our hotel destination we noticed all of the buildings that Shanghai had to offer. It was an amazing sight to see all of the huge, tall corporate buildings that stretched for miles and miles long. When we arrived to the JW Marriott it was in the heart of Shanghai. It was absolutely amazing and was by far the tallest building I had ever seen. When we got to our rooms, the view from our rooms was the most beautiful thing any of us had ever seen.

After settling in, we were given a few hours free time to see the sights and do a little shopping. The shopping in Shanghai was amazing. We were all like little kids in the candy store. When we headed back to the hotel we had a little ice cream in the café of the lobby of our hotel with Stephanie, one of our NFL representatives. She shared a little insight to us about the culture in Shanghai.

After ice cream, we had just a few minutes to get ready for the exciting night ahead. We departed the Marriot at around 7:00 p.m. and headed to our first destination which was a local sports bar named Malone’s. It was such an exciting restaurant filled with people from a lot of different cultures. We started out with a meet and greet and then did an autograph session with the fans. As a group, we performed and gave the people of Shanghai a little insight on the NFL and The Oakland Raiders as a whole. We brought forth a game for the fans that gave them the opportunity to participate in what we do as Raiderettes on game day. So we pulled together a few volunteers from the crowd and brought them up on stage to perform a little sideline with us including kicks. It was so much fun to teach and see the fans really getting into it.

We said our goodbyes and headed off to our next location which was a sports bar named Yao. There we did the same thing similar to our first stop. It was such an exciting thing to be a part of. As a team we were so blessed and fortunate to even have this opportunity. It was an honor to spread the word for the love of the game we all share, and to educate the people of China about the NFL and our favorite Oakland Raiders. We went to bed relatively early that night and ramped up for the next exciting eventful day ahead.

Erica's Journal
Thursday, September 11

After an early breakfast Thursday morning, we departed from the JW Marriot hotel at 11 a.m., ready for the exciting day ahead of us. At noon we reached our first destination, the University Fan Club promotion which involved meeting and performing with the Cou La La’s, who are Shanghai’s local cheerleaders. The Raiderettes and I had the opportunity to watch Cou La La’s cheerleaders perform their outstanding routines that pumped up the audience. After their performance the Raiderettes and I performed for the University’s students; who were all enthused and excited to watch our performance. The students were absolutely wonderful!

When we finished with lunch, we attended another University Fan Club promotion to sign autographs and we spoke with the students, educating them on what the National Football League is all about. While at the University, we were extremely excited to meet a dedicated Raider fan by the name of Jayme Lawman. Lawman is from England and is in Shanghai focusing his education on the Mandarin language.

We finished Thursday night with dinner and woke up Friday morning starting with breakfast. After breakfast we had an interview with a local magazine agency and then headed to a photo shoot for the magazine. During the photo shoot we were surprised by Jayme, who accompanied us for the day and shared his wonderful presence with us. At the end of the day Jayme said, “After today I realized that The Oakland Raiders is not just a football team, but a loving and caring family that I will always be a part of.”

We ended our night with a lovely dinner with the entire NFL China crew and then headed back to the JW Marriot to wrap up our trip and head back home.

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