Getting Involved in the Culture of China

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When you move to a new country, it can feel new and wonderful but also a bit scary! So we made a decision that when we moved to China we’d try our hardest to get involved with as many activities as possible… and say YES! So when the time for the mid-autumn festival came around, I was very happy to become involved because it featured one of my favourite foods… moon cakes! We all know it’s moon cake time because two of my students’ parents brought me very luxurious, fancily-packaged boxes filled with them and they are delicious! And we all had a day off to celebrate. The school ensures that it celebrates all the local and cultural festivities and so the children and staff soon became engaged in making sticky rice moon cakes. In the evening,  my family and I were invited to perform in front of 1000 people to help the people in our district celebrate the mid-Autumn festival! The lady who organised for us to sing told us that at the end she had prepared a gift for us all – but not to worry, they were not moon cakes! I love these deliciously exquisitely-designed treats however so I would not have been disappointed!

When one of my colleagues at the school asked if we wanted to come and share some music at a local variety evening at a gym, I thought nothing of it. I figured this meant a few people, gathered in a gymnasium with a few chairs and all informal. Then earlier today, it dawned on me… my colleague meant the massive outdoor gym where people gather every evening for free exercise, dancing and playing!

When we arrived, we soon realised we were the only foreigners in the show and that they had put us on near the end as some sort of special guests… very touched at that even though we knew it wasn’t necessary. We are treated SO well here, with such respect and love from everyone we meet… and of course we are loving and sweet right back!

There was a big stage and a few people gathered which soon transformed into over a 1000 people. Our daughter started by singing ‘Twinkle twinkle little star’ which the audience seemed to love immensely! Then I sang ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’ and one of my own songs, ‘Wonderful Woman’. When I said ‘Good evening’ in Chinese, I received a round of applause. My husband then sang two songs – one by The Cure and ‘Dock of the Bay’ which also was received well and he spoke a few words in Chinese which was greatly appreciated. Afterwards we had many people saying thank you, shaking our hands and looking truly happy that we had participated. We also each received that aforementioned bag of gifts… toothpaste, a mug, washing powder and hand-towels! Again… so touched by this. Who wants a bunch of flowers anyway?!

We were filmed the whole way through by very expensive-looking cameras so look out for us on the news!

When I got home, I opened a book at random and it fell open on a page with a beautiful quotation that I read with my family before we went to sleep. Amazingly, it was all about the unity of the east and the west, and these people coming together. As I read it, it dawned on me, like a warm sun peeking over the horizon… I often wonder, in the short time we have been here what our purpose is to be in this country. Well, I believe there are many reasons. But one of the very good reasons it seems is to bring that unity of east and west… so many of our friends and family and ourselves included had and still have pre-conceived ideas about China… and what shines out so much here is how we are all one. We are so accepted here. We’re the minority, if we’re going to look solely at ethnicity but we are treated with the most amazing love I have ever felt from so many people who I do not know. We get round the city on hand-gestures and limited vocabulary. But the constant love and welcome and hospitality we are receiving is endless and it’s beautiful.

I looked at what it said on our mugs…

‘Here for good.”

I don’t know how long we will stay in China – our plan was to return next year –  but I know I have tasted something now that I never want to give up… it’s hard to describe and it’s more a feeling at the moment than anything I can write about and convey properly. But I truly love it here. I miss ALL my friends and family SO much! But I want this feeling to continue somehow… whether we remain here next year or voyage home. Or is this home? It feels like home tonight.

“Somewhere over the rainbow

Way up high…

There’s a land that I heard of

Once in a lullaby…”

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