I have come to realize I have a family in Arizona that I dearly miss and look forward to being with soon. I also have a China family I will dearly miss when I leave. Each time I come I fall in love with each of my students but there is always a few that I become very attached to and want to pack in my suitcase. These students I speak of are the ones that seem to want to be with me all the time. If I mention anything I want to do or see or buy or go they jump at the opportunity and want to share time with me. They become my kids. I have had a few sleep overs in my apartment because the students stayed out late working for the academy and their dorm was locked. They love sleeping on my living room floor or couch. It seems to be such an honor for them.
I have also gotten to know some of the student’s mothers that quickly become my “big sister or little sister”. They adopt me and I adopt them. I met one of my favorite student’s mothers this weekend. She was a student from a few years ago and we have been close over the past few years. She has told me about her mother and told her mother about me. When her mother came for the Symposium she was not even on campus and her mother came up to me and said “Grace’s mother “pointing to herself. I realized she recognized me from pictures and was being so bold and brave to approach me and tell me who she was. With a translator we met, embraced and chatted.
Yesterday I had to make a one day trip to Beijing for a meeting and took Grace with me to help me maneuver my way around town. It is a good thing too. We took the fast train for 3 hours, and 2 hours of subway with 12 stop and changes, and a taxi. After the meeting we turned around and did it all over again only to return to Zhenghou by 11:30 p.m. We stayed at Grace’s home with her mother and grandmother. It was a very humble home but we were welcomed with open arms and excitement.
I heard more stories of hardship and gained a quick appreciation for the courage her mother has had over the years and all she has persevered. She is a mother much like me. She wants her daughter to follow her dreams, to be happy, to eat healthy, see the world and do what her heart tells her to do. We bonded quickly and are close to the same age, so she now calls me her big sister. She woke up early to prepare and go out on the street to purchase a big breakfast with multiple dishes so I would have many choices. We walked through town a little bit hand in hand talking about our future visits.
I have a big China family. They are the reason I come back. Do I love Chinese food? No. Do I love the dirt, smog, smells, inconveniences, the traffic, and noise? No. I think Louie Armstrong sang a song that says “I hear babies cry, and I watch them grow, they’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know. And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.” I feel the same here. I hear my students share, I watch them grow, they learn and teach me more than I will ever know and I think to myself “what a wonderful world!”