HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR!
2015 – Year of the Goat
Over the past few weeks I have opened up my home to a couple fifteen year old Chinese exchange students. My dream is to travel endlessly . . . until then, I will bring culture to us.
I love to witness culture shock.
Late one night, my family and the foreign exchange girls had come home from Mexican food (which they had never tried, but loved) and a movie. My kids piled out of our car and walked inside. When I turned around to press the button to close the garage door, I paused. There, the two girls stood in the driveway, gazing at the night sky. Their mouths hung open and their eyes were glassy with awe. I stood watching and then walked toward them. A tug pulled on my heart when I saw their full expressions. In that moment of stillness, I followed suit and looked up. A brilliant display of stars winked down at us, flirting. The girls began to smile more radiant than I had seen them yet—more than when I had taken them to the mall, or to the American candy isle, or to the high school to see how other kids their age acted.
“Ten years,” one said to me in a watery trance. “Haven’t seen stars in ten years. No moon in over five. Pollution very bad in Beijing.”
My heart ached.
Oh, to never see the stars or moon. Can you imagine?
I would feel lost.
It got me thinking . . .
I have hosted students from China a few times now. Each time, the girls marvel about our freedom of choice in our schooling and futures. Each girl had their futures picked for them by their parents. From the time they were young, they followed a strict school schedule to prepare them for their given professions.
I’ve asked each one of them, upon first meeting, what they plan to do in schooling, because it consumes their life. Banker, engineer, accountant, family business.
By the end of their stay, each one of them has opened up and told me the desires of their hearts, not their parents hearts, theirs. Author, fashion designer, architect. But to them, the dreams of those futures were veiled. Just like the stars.
Soon, my own children came out to see what was taking us so long. And then we all just stood there arm in arm, looking into the endless heavens. I pointed out constellations that they had never seen. It was so interesting to hear the different views of what lies beyond our reach. And what our different beliefs are. I don’t talk religion with them, although they have come to church with us, for research, mainly. That reminded me of another time when I was on a stinky 40 hour bus to Beijing many, many years ago, when the surrounding people were so curious about my American religion that I couldn’t share with them. But anyway, I still want to talk about the stars, so let’s go back go that . . . I take them for granted. I do. Sometimes they are veiled to me in the moments that I am looking down and it takes someone from a faraway place to remind me to be grateful for what I have and look up.
I am so grateful when these girls come to stay. I love Chinese history and culture and am even collaborating on a non-fiction book about their vast history. (Here is another post I wrote about my time in Beijing, China.) I mean no disrespect, but a part of me aches for them and their wishful dreams. Just like they ached to see the stars.
I am grateful to have the freedom to reach for the stars and to have them in my sights.
Happy Chinese New Year! I hope you reach for the stars.
Here’s when I do a bit of self-promotion… I have written a book called Broken Smiles. (clean romance.) Most of the setting is in China. Below are a few 5 star Amazon reviews, along with the purchase link:
– “Broken Smiles has many wonderful things going on in this novel. The beautiful descriptive settings in places like China and Morocco, sweep you away as if you were there. Not only do you “see” what it would look like there, but you also learn many things about the culture. You can clearly see the large amount of research that Author Tara Mayoros has done in the writing of this book.”
– “I loved how the book was set in China. I have never been there but it made me want to go. This book inspires you to be a better person and to always go after what you love and for the right reasons.”
– “*** Warning, this book will give you the travel bug after you read it, and you may feel like spontaneously buying a ticket to China!***”