Said the Chinese cowboy Chao Wang. I can now record the end of a very special Project Boma experience as my friend Chao has traveled to my home in Wichita, Kansas. I did not quite manage to roll out the red carpet for my guest, but we certainly did our best.
The trip was contrasted immediately with our trip to China. We flew on a puddle jumper from Chicago to Wichita–no TVs, no food, very unlike our jumbo jet to Beijing.
I take the blame for the next part of the story. I told my parents that we were going to land at noon, but we actually landed at 10am. Then I could not locate my phone that I thought I left back in PA, but it turned out to be in my bag. On top of all this I woke up that morning at 4:30am (because our first flight left at 6am) feeling extremely sick, so I wasn’t being the most enthusiastic host. After an hour of frantic calling, I finally got a hold of my dad, who came and picked us up.
Chao wasn’t too displeased though, as he was able to tap into the FREE Wichita airport wifi to watch Prison Break, which must be his favorite show. We had to sit on the floor in the back of his cargo van on the way home, which I think is always fun, but I’m not sure that Chao shares my sentiments.
After what could fairly be described as a “bumpy” start, I think the trip turned out to be a huge success. I wouldn’t say that I gave him a taste of the whole Midwest, but I believe I gave him a nice “Wichita in a nutshell” experience. I’ll let him go into more detail, but for the record we did most of the important stuff: rodeo, country dance club, real Kansas barbeque, cowboys and Indians, western outfit, best zoo in the Midwest (self-claimed), great plains, indoor football, blizzard, Wichita Museum, NCAA tournament victories by Kansas University and Wichita State, tours of town, and the most authentic Midwest experience: just relaxing at home on a Sunday afternoon. Not bad for a three-day visit.
This was an extremely memorable Spring Break for me. I got to see my friend see most of my home environment, and my friend got a big belt buckle with a W on the front. Hopefully, he took a lot more away from the trip than that though. I know I took away an awful lot. It seems like you never know someone as well as when you go over to his home and meet his closest family. Chao and I know each other a lot better now for sure.
Having him over allowed me to reconsider everything that I would normally take for granted. For example, if I was driving somewhere in Wichita I would normally just go from A to B without paying much attention to what I was passing. With Chao in the vehicle I was trying to look around and tell him what stuff was and point out anything that was “interesting”. Deciding what was “interesting” was pretty challenging for me. I tried my best but it seemed like the most interesting thing in my home was my cat, Palmer, and the biggest must-see on the road was cattle. Not what I would of thought, but good enough! Unfortunately, due to the blizzard, we did not get to see very much cattle. Sorry, Chao, guess you’ll have to come back for that one.
I know Chao didn’t care too much for indoor football, but I have to thank him for bearing through the insanity. He knew how much I loved the game, so he sat through it as a gracious guest.
Overall I think that the trip was extremely educational. I’ll let him go into detail, but I feel like he learned a lot about Native Americans, the Midwest, United States history, and my own personal history. He also got to test some stereotypes: there are actually people in Kansas who are not white! And break up a few of his own: no, my cat did not have to sleep with one eye open. However educational and rewarding the trip was or was not for Chao, it certainly was for my family, who are extremely grateful that he was able to come visit. They got to learn a lot about Chinese culture from Chao, who was glad to explain it as best as he could.
Project Boma has turned out to be perhaps the best experience that I have had while attending Lafayette. The memories may fade, but the friendships and bonds I hope will last forever! Thanks again to all the people who made this possible. I hope the program keeps on going and growing!