Thursday, December 04, 2008

Laojia

While we are definitely into our lives as Beijingren, when an opportunity arose for Steve to give a lecture in Guangzhou, we couldn't have been any happier. Guangdong province, of which Guangzhou is the capital, holds a special place in our xin because it is the region where we first fell in love...with China. When we had chance to come to China in 2004 with the Kangs, it never occurred to us that a trip could plant the seed for a whole life direction. Sure, it would be a "trip of a lifetime," but a trip that would change our lives? There is no doubt that '04's effects have been far reaching.

Guangzhou, formally known as Canton, is located in southern China. Around four hours from Hong Kong by bus, it is a bustling city of around 10 million people and has a climate that is subtropical. It is the place from which many of the people who emigrated to other countries and set up Chinatowns hail from.

The main reason that a trip to Guangzhou is so meaningful to us is that it brings us just a stone's throw from the place we consider our Zhongguo laojia (Chinese homeland)...Taishan. With only a small distance between us and this "tiny" district of one million people, we will make our "pilgrimage" back, if only for a day or so.

When you spend almost a month in a place, you can form an indelible image in your mind. For me, to venture back to the Taishan Overseas Chinese Hotel, the basketball courts where Steve introduced "shirts and skins" to the Chinese, to "Cloud Nine" (our favorite gongfu cha place in the world), and, of course, Taishan #1 Middle School, will be one of the highlights of this entire year abroad. I can't wait to see how it has changed and maybe even to see a few of the nameless faces we encountered and seemed to amaze with our foreign look. Perhaps we can even show a few of them that while our foreign look has remained the same (or at least close to it), our Chinese vocabulary is actually made up of a few more words than ni hao and zaijian. (Both of which we used to pronounce wrong!)

Laojia, sweet laojia.

~Desi

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