Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Last year...

We made it to China on this date. I tried to come to China with an open mind but enough cultural awareness to get by. I wanted to like China or at the very least be grateful to China for giving me the gift of my daughter. I'd read blogs by people who were very condescending, critical, and downright mean in their descriptions of China and the Chinese. I didn't want to be one of those people - I'd have kept my mouth shut rather than post something unkind.

It wasn't necessary to keep my mouth shut, though. I found China to be so full of life, energy, and great people. So many things looked different, smelled different, sounded different, but I learned that we have more similarities than differences.
I want to thank some people. Joe was our first guide, and he was very knowledgeable about historical sites, political history, and current events in China. Beyond exposing us to how silk is made, where the emperor slept, and really good Chinese food, though, Joe taught me that China is a country full of hope and optimism for the future. I got WAY more of an education than I ever expected.
Next there were XiXi, Lisa, Amy, and Jessica. XiXi's family history taught us so much about life while Mao was Chairman, what it was like growing up a girl in China, and family life. Lisa taught us about growing up in a farming family. She said her parents encouraged all their children to excell in school as it could, "change your life." And it DID change her life.

My guides didn't just get us safely from point A to point B (although they were superior at doing those things), they gave us insights into yesterday's and today's China that we'll be able to share with Lydia when she's older. They were all so open and kind to us, and I'll never forget them.

When I left China, I left part of my heart there. I'm so glad we went early, that our experiences were so good. I won't have to feign any excitement when I tell Lydia about China.
Even though I got sick twice, thought the flights would never end, and it was just as hot and humid as it is here at home but without as much airconditioning, I'd go back and do all of it (except eating the suspicious meals) all over again.