I look at the window at the crowded streets and sidewalks. I can spot men with shirts rolled up to expose their bellies to cool them off in the sweltering sun. They call it the “Beijing belly.” Apparently during the Olympics, they tried to discourage the Beijing belly as a form of impolite behavior, but alas, the tradition continues on. And it hits me, once again. I live here. I live in China. I’m not here on vacation (even though my current residence is a hotel) or for a semester abroad. I’m here for two years…and perhaps much longer.
There are moments when the sights and sounds of China seem overwhelming. I know those moments will come and go, with some days being far more overwhelming than others. I’m sure there will be times when I think, “did I really move to China?” Okay, let’s be honest, there are times when I’ve already thought that.
But then yesterday, we had some English students take us around the city. As we talked with these two students, my heart overflowed with joy. And I was reminded of why I’m here. To see their faces. To hear their stories. To be a part of their lives. And of course, to stealthily capture some photos of the Beijing belly.
And yes, I’m wearing bunny ears. They are pretty cool.
As I prepare to leave for China, I can’t help but think of the world’s cutest child–my only niece Mackenzie. (And no, I am not at all bias.) At a little over 2, she is currently at the “what’s that?” stage of life. Whether it be a plug in the wall or a ladder on the dock, she is curious about the names and functions of the all of these objects in her world. Her mom has said that she is sure what will be next, the inevitable question of, “why?” When I think of her curiosity, something that is does not hold judgment or prejudice, but simple childlike wonder, it challenges me as I enter into a new world. In this new world, I’m sure there will be many times when I’m sure I will ask the question–what’s that? And many times, I will be tempted to not adopt a childlike posture when I ask that question. I might even realize that I have never asked the question, “why?” in determining why I do things the way that I do…I have simply answered the question as parents sometimes do, “just because that’s the way it is.” I hope that as I leave for China, I will learn from the childlike wonder and curiosity of Mackenzie–that I will be able to ask questions without being blinded by my own ideas…and be willing to not only hear the what, but also learn the why.