Lack of Freedom,
I have to admit as soon as I entered China I felt a lack of freedom. Before I arrived I had to send a copy of my passport and my flight schedule arrival and departure to the campus leaders. They want to know the purpose of the visit and how long the stay will be. Every visitor to campus is assigned an assistant or handler. In many ways the assistant is very handy because I never get lost and always have a helper. In others ways it is a little limiting.
My assistant was Felicia, a member of the World Academy for Women. She was also assigned 2 other guests. They are informed they must have their guests at every event on time or early. If they are not, they are severely scolded. You can imagine her determination to always have us be on time for everything. To say they are pushy is a gentle way to say it. After each event she would say “now let’s go we must get to the next event, hurry.” It was a tightly scheduled weekend, she was worried we might be late and that made her fearful. The day of graduation I was enjoying taking pictures with my students and their parents. She was getting nervous saying “we have to hurry to the banquet and have to go now.” I gently reminded her that my main purpose in being there was for the student’s graduation. I asked her if I could miss the banquet and go with my students to lunch. She said “I will ask.” Upon her return she told me “Yes you are dismissed, is there anything else I can assist you with today?” I felt a bit of freedom when I told her no.
As soon as I got to China I no longer had access to my gmail account. Apparently the weekend I arrived China decided to cut out gmail access. I could not get on facebook, my blog or any of my church websites. The internet was very slow and sometimes I could get it and others not at all. It was frustrating when trying to communicate with home. I was able to skype a few times but only for a little bit before it cut me off.
I always feel like I am watched while I am there. There is a sense of not having the freedom to do or say what I want because it might be misunderstood. There was such a freeing feeling when I arrived in the U.S. and felt like I was on my own and could do what I please. When I asked the students if they like their government they say it makes them feel safe. They feel like they are taken care of and are watched over. I can see how that is for them because they don’t know anything other than what they were raised with. I might feel the same way if I wasn’t raised with all the freedoms I have had.
The question my daughter asked me when we arrived in the Philippines was “how was I so blessed to be born in the U.S.?” I felt the same question inside myself. I know we have felt some of our freedoms diminishing in our government but we are very blessed to have what we have. There is still a great deal more freedom than in other countries. The best part is we have so many conveniences that ease our daily tasks. I am grateful to be born an American to have the freedom to worship, work, play, study and do as I please. There is much to be grateful for and I am reminded of that every time I leave this country.