After one 16-hour flight, a missing contact lens, and a whole lot of turbulence, we finally arrived in the mother land! Once we finally arrived in Chengdu, China, I couldn’t help but feel a strong sense of accomplishment. That had to be the longest flight ever, considering I had to spend 13 of the 16 hours half blind. The funniest part was the startled look the stewardess would give me every time I’d ask her for something because it looked like I was winking at her. The struggle was indeed real but it was definitely worth it!
Things got much better once we arrived at Miranda’s house and met her mother, brother, and grandma. They were all so friendly and full of energy and were eager to welcome me into their home. I am very shocked by the kindness and interest that I have been receiving for the past few days not only from Miranda’s family but people throughout the neighborhood.
As a person in a foreign country, I feel like there’s an automatic feeling of obligation to push to be well received and to fit in. However, for the past days that I have been here I haven’t felt that obligation in the slightest. From the people I have met, especially strangers, they are not shocked by the idea of me being a foreigner but by the fact that there is someone from another country that is actually interested in their country and its culture.
I feel it’s revelations like this that make programs like this so beneficial and life changing. Despite the fact that I am very open minded, I temporarily had a worry that people would have an aversion or would be uninterested in me because I didn’t share the same ethnicity. However, these preconceptions or worries couldn’t have been any farther from reality; the great experiences I’ve been having with Chinese natives so far have given me nothing but motivation to encourage others to branch out.
There are so many things we can learn from one another. Some people cheat themselves of these opportunities because they have so many misconceptions about people of different cultures. I am really looking forward to the rest of my stay here in Chengdu because I really feel like there are many stories I can share with my friends on campus that will encourage them to explore various cultures.
I have always believed that culture is what distinguishes us from other people, but it’s the same aspect of culture that should bring us together. One would be surprised by similarities in folk tales, traditions, and even food that people of different cultures share. Which is why I really appreciated visiting various “ancient streets” in Chengdu, especially Jinli Ancient Street.
The Jinli Ancient, although it is referred to as a street, is like its own mini neighborhood full of homes, buildings, and art all preserved from the Qing Dynasty. The scenery and art work here is breath taking and it’s remarkable how these buildings were maintained over hundreds of years. Throughout the street there are various vendors, entertainers and even story tellers.
This has been one of my favorite excursions so far because it kind of reminds me of the Central Market back home in Ghana. I liked being able to relate and feel at home in China. Miranda has been doing a great job of showing me her culture and I can’t wait to see more.