Spending time with the real China
The last Saturday in Zibo ended up not being a free day but instead a day to meet Chinese families. Unfortunately, like almost everyone on the trip I’m sick.
Thankfully, it’s nothing more than a stuffy nose and sore throat but no matter how I feel today, we spent time with the real China. Early this morning, we were paired up in boy girl groups to each go to one local SDUT student’s house.
My partner was Michelle Ni — the only high school student in our group, who is also an American-born Chinese girl and as a person who looks just like the people we are here to visit; she is a topic of interest for many people here. They expect her to speak Chinese, and some can’t understand how she could be an American.
The common belief here is that all Americans are Caucasian with blonde hair and blue eyes, so for a few people in our group they have to explain that America is a melting pot of many races and they are in fact Americans.
Michelle and I walked with our new friend Paul to his penthouse on the top floor of a nearby apartment complex. It was a shock just how nice his home was. They had two floors to themselves with use of the building’s roof too.
He and his family live a privileged life when compared to the rest of Zibo. He will be traveling to Bloomsburg next year for school, which will be a huge jump for him having never left his country before.
His mother made us a great lunch and even made some vegetarian food in consideration of my meatless lifestyle choice. Overall his home is very much the same as any person in America.
His parents both work and have their own car with enough space in their home for all the normal American essentials, TV, computers, leisure area. The only hint that we were in China was the thick haze covering most of the city outside the penthouse windows.
Ben the helper
The people I’ve met here have all been extremely friendly to me and have a genuine desire to hear what I have to say and make me feel at home.
Ben, one of my closer Chinese friends and I frequently talk about things such as religion, politics, and getting to know each other’s culture better. Ben is always willing to help a friend in need.
Just about everybody in our group has been treated by some Chinese pill from Ben’s collection for something from a stomach problem to a sore throat. A few nights ago Ben dropped by to check in on us, and I had mentioned my throat was feeling scratchy and in no time he disappeared only to reappear a few minutes later with all sorts of pills and instructions on how I can get better.
He’s an amazing kid and not just because of how kind he is. He is very intelligent and has a better understanding about world politics than most American’s. He has described the situation in his country very clearly to me even with his limited English vocabulary.
His ideas on voting and freedom of expression are different than ours but he still makes great talking points.
— Morris Longo, a sophomore business management major