Thursday, April 23, 2009

Our First Fulbright "Lecture"

As soon as Daddy told Taiyuan Li Gong Da Xue that he was available to give a lecture to their students, the person who had invited us asked Daddy if Mommy would also give a lecture, since we we all going to come. Not having anything prepared to speak on, Mommy politely declined, saying she would be happy to speak with students and teachers on topics they were interested in.

However, once we arrived on campus, Ying Ping, our main contact, was still interested in having not only Daddy giving lectures. She asked me if I would be willing to speak before Daddy got up, and she extended the invitation to Z as well. We had plans to do a day of home school while Daddy wasn't with us, so we didn't give a definite response to the request.

During the Q&A, though, Daddy received many questions about us and our time in China. One person even inquired when he would get to meet the three of us. So Daddy, knowing that we had already considered coming to his lecture, promised the students that we would join him the following day for Q&A after his second lecture.

So the next day, after Daddy finished speaking, Mommy, Z, and I entered the lecture hall and seated ourselves behind the table on stage, as Daddy introduced us and the audience applauded.

I will admit that I did have butterflies as the first question was asked. This was my first experience answering questions on the spot in front of an audience. (Improvisation, Ms. Rankin!) Luckily, the first question was for Daddy, so Mommy, Z, and I got settled and were served tea!

But before I knew what was happening, the questions hit me like bugs on a windshield. Some questions were about the topics discussed in Daddy's lecture. One of these was even pointed at me, concerning how I felt during past world disasters. This was a tough one, but manageable, as Mommy and Daddy helped out with some parental insights after I was finished.

The most interesting questions came through when Z and I were asked specific questions about our experiences in China. After giving details of where we have been, Z was asked what he thought about Xi'an by a Xi'an ren, and if he thought there were differences among Chinese people. He answered the first with a story about running through fountains, and the second with "They're all Chinese!"

Mommy gave a talk about how much she loves Chinese food, before telling the audience how much she appreciated their presence.

My favorite question had to do with my clothes. That day, I had chosen one of my favorite Chinese outfits, purple pants with swirls and mirrors, and a white top with embroidered patterns around the neckline. Z was also wearing a brown traditional shirt, so the students were interested in why we chose such "non-Western" looking outfits. I was passed the microphone and talked about how much I LOVE shopping in China, especially for countryside style clothes that most Americans don't know exist. I concluded by saying how much I will enjoy wearing my new favorite clothes next year!

Overall, I know we all had a great experience sharing our insights and American/Chinese lives with the 150-200 students, teachers, and others present. I hope the audience had as much fun as I did. Watch out China! It's not just Daddy anymore!

~Julie

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