What a great two days in Xi’an! Xi’an is maybe my favorite city in China. It’s clean, comfortable and displays BLUE skies on a regular basis. The people are friendly. The driving traffic is sensible and the food is GREAT! I love their Jaozi.
I arrived via China Eastern Airlines in the late afternoon and my wonderful former student Ye Yuchan, Anson, picked me up at the airport. With him was his fiancé, Liu Jiaming. Jiaming spoke little or no English. She was tall and beautiful. She had a bright red dress on that bounced back and forth as she walked. Jiaming was wearing some bright red lipstick to match her dress. She treated me like I was a man to be revered and respected. She was kind and quiet. The Chinese culture is to honor professors and older generations. I was both. I was Anson’s mentor and professor seven years earlier. Jiaming was also very hospitable. She inquired several times to Anson to make sure I was comfortable and had what I needed for the moment. I was fine, but she was doting on my every anticipated need. She asked if I was hungry, she asked if I was hot, or cold, or anything…? I was fine, really, but Jiaming insisted that we get me something to eat. We went to a shopping mall food court near my hotel so that we could get something quick and easy. I just wanted to get on to my bed that I so badly wanted to crash and sprawl upon!
When we arrived at the hotel for which Anson had reserved for me, Jiaming wanted to make sure the room was what she thought it needed to be. She checked the room, the bathroom and even pulled back the comforter to make sure I had clean, comfortable sheets. When everything seemed to meet her approval she motioned that I could come in and make myself comfortable. I was tired, jet lag was still kicking my butt. I wanted then both to stay and visit but I was exhausted. So, I made arrangements to meet Anson in the morning for breakfast before his broadcast production class at Xi Bei da Xue and said, Wan an… (good night)
I was up early and ready to go. After eating some breakfast in the campus canteen Anson and I made our way to the classroom. While at breakfast we met two of his students who seemed very excited to meet me. Anson had told them about my coming to speak and they had never spoken to a Caucasian American before. When we arrived at the room, it wasn’t really a classroom. It was a small, but larger than normal audio production studio. A small group of five or six students were there before we arrived and I thought this would be very informal and cozy… but as the minutes approached for the starting time there were 30-35 students crammed into what now seemed like a very small studio. I stood in the corner and proceeded to meet and greet as best I could in such a tight environment. Anson explained to them for what seemed like a long time about who I was, that I was his American professor and that I was there to talk about good communication skills. I then realized how limited their English was. I was going to need a lot of help from Anson. So we started… I said a few words, or sometimes a few sentence and then he would translate. It was excruciating, but as the class understood more about what I was saying they seemed to relax, and so did I. They appeared to genuinely like me! Anson had told them that at Harding we all hug everybody, and that I was a hugger! One girl then stood up extended her arms and asked if she could hug me? I guess you know my answer to that… I reached out my arms and she gave me a warm and longer than expected hug while the rest of the class roared their approval with laughter and applause!
When I finished my talk I told them that I had a WeChat account! Ooooooo, they crooned, as they all pulled out their phones to scan my QR code so that we could be friends on the Chinese social media platform WeChat. After what seemed like a 30-minute photo session we all said our bye-byes and I left. I live for moments and experiences like these!
Anson was anxious to take me to lunch. I wanted to start the process of Chinese afternoon rest or nap time. When he asked me what I wanted I simply said something quick and easy and near my napping nest. He took me to a restaurant of his choice, but before we got seated, Jiaming called to see how Anson was taking care of me? He told her where we were going to eat, and she said, “no, no, no! Take him somewhere nicer and then she proceeded to give him directions as to where to take me. He explained that to me and said, “One thing I will always remember you telling me in America was, happy wife – happy life!” He’s going to be a good husband and Jimaing is going to be a GREAT wife!
Next up... The day I met Hope!
Steve Shaner, also known as Xie Yeye, is a professional story teller that delights in traveling to meet new and old friends. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.