Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Really Long and Overdue Update

Mainly because I'm an extremely distracted university student who does not want to study at the moment, its high time I finally update this thing.

Well as most of you have probably figured out, I'm home, safe and sound and boy do I have some stories to tell!

First off, lets talk about the remainder of my China adventure! After my Gotcha Day (well thats what I call my adoption day, I've never really cared if it was politically correct or not), we as a summer staff were surprised with a camping trip to the Great Wall. Yes, I said a camping trip to THE Great Wall! Seriously, who even hears about that kind of stuff? For all that I've done in these nineteen short years on this earth, few things have come remotely close to what I experienced in those mountains of Gubeikou.


It was a great time to just slow down and sit in wonder of this amazing structure. We were in a very remote part of the Wall that was not as well kept as the bigger tourist sections. I've always been a fan of ruins so this six plus hour hike just took the cake. By the time we got to our campsite, the sun was setting and we were exhausted. But it was the good kind. However, we were thankful to sit down to a nice meal and a campfire! 






We knew that our time together was coming to an end and that reintegrating ourselves back to whatever our lives were before would be our next challenge. I'm thankful for the time that I had in China and for the people that I got to experience it with. They were all absolutely amazing and would forever be my China Family. 

Coming home was definitely hard, as was to be expected. I was very happy to see friends and family again, but I did miss the sort of independence that I had in China. As previously mentioned in probably some other post, I've been out of the country before, but I had never just been by myself, I had always traveled with friends or family before. Even being in college. I go to school in my home town so my parents are literally down the high way. 

When I was here I really did feel like it was the real world. Working a nine to five "job" per say, and being able to hang out and explore at my own pace without any usual pressures of school or other obligations. The responsibility did freak me out at first, but by the middle of the internship, I found myself thinking that I could get used to this. I could see this as something to make a life out of. What a scary thought. 

Well Now that I've been back for about three months, school is back in full swing. This week was midterms and being the irresponsible young adult I am, I'm blogging instead of studying... 

It seems as though I am back to real life and that my time there was almost like a dream. Or is this the dream? Almost like an alternate reality, my life here at school and my life in China were just completely separate. 

I was fortunate enough to see Nick and Stephanie last weekend, in Texas nonetheless. That was when my two worlds collided and it made my head spin. It was absolutely wonderful to see them in another context, reminiscing about the adventures we had and telling stories we may have missed the first time. It was exciting to hear about their next adventure to Europe! They have given me so much advice about travel and life in general. I'm so glad to be able to call them friends! Their adventures can be found on their website !! They are truly inspiring and if you ever need to find a reason to travel, all it takes is one conversation with them and you'll be sold. 

Now all I guess that's left to say is this, college is definitely hard and I miss having adventures abroad. But it doesn't mean that my life here can't be one as well! Right now I'm just trying to make the most of what's in front of me. I have great friends and live in a wonderful place! I don't know what God has in store for me next, but for now I'm just going with it! 

Until next time! 







Saturday, June 21, 2014

A Story from Anhwei

I honor of my adoption day.

I've begun teaching English to one of the foster home workers here who is actually from Anhwei, my birth province. It's been a joy to be able to get to know her! And although there's a language barrier, we've been able to somehow meet in the middle when telling stories. Last week, she showed me photos of her family and hometown, always smiling whenever one her daughter came up on the computer screen. Its been great to see what its like in Anhwei, which is about 10 hours south of Beijing by train, or so I've been told. 

She also seemed very interested in my story as well, questioning every detail. I was confused at first but it later occurred to me that by today's Chinese adoption standards, my abandonment and adoption is actually somewhat unusual. Most orphans now a days have some sort of mental or physical disability. I'm not entirely sure when the healthy ones began to be kept or if they were all adopted or whatever the reason. She did ask if I had any physical issues, since I seemed to be quite normal to her. I answered no. I now realize how fortunate I am. Some children are kept for a couple of months and then given up whenever medical issues are discovered. Apparently I was found a day after my birth. I just always assumed it was a regular occurance. In addition to this, I was adopted when I was seven months old. Most children are at least a year old by the time their families come to get them because the process has now slowed to taking at least a year, if you're lucky. Some of the children adopted can be as old as 13. I can't imagine what it would be like to wait that long for a family as well as having the fear of aging out of the system looming over your head. 

Another question that caught my attention was when she asked if I hated my birth parents. I can tell you the answer right now. No. I don't hate them. I was surprised when she asked, I guess some kids do have problems pertaining to their birth parents and possibly resent them for their abandonment. I did not know them and I don't want to make an assumption on their character based on a single action. Sure, that action forever changed the lives of me and my family, but I'm sure glad it did. I do think about them sometimes. Not as much as I did when I was younger. At least I think of my birth mom. Who wouldn't? I wonder if the decision was hard for her. I wonder if I was a classic case of someone who couldn't afford to raise a child or if she was young and just pulled a "Juno" (movie reference). Some questions may never be answered. It doesn't really matter now. Whatever the reason. It happened and I'm here now. In letting me go, she provided me with I life neither of us could have ever imagined for me and I'm grateful for that, whatever her intentions. I hope life is good to her wherever she may be. I have been incredibly blessed beyond anything I deserve. It was only the intro of my story and I intend for it to have so many chapters, and I thank her for being the one to start it. 

3 weeks ago, I walked down the road where I was found. It was a simple street and I'm amazed I didn't get hit by a car. The street was long and busy. In recent years they've torn down houses and replaced them with brand new apartment buildings, but you can still see some remains of small brick houses overlooking the street. I suspect I may have come from that direction. Ma'anshan is a city of about 3 million people and it's growing. I've been asked if I would ever be interested in finding my parents. Honestly, the chances of finding them would be like finding your contact lens in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Going back, I wasn't particularly emotional. It wasn't some hallmark movie or anything overly romanticized as some documentaries might make it seem. I never felt like a part of me was missing and that coming back here would somehow fill a void that was never there. I know who I am and who I was made to be. I am grateful for the opportunity to see where I came from and amazed at how I got to where I am. I'm eternally thankful for my wonderful parents who have loved me even before I was born. God has always been looking out for me and has always had a plan for my life, and I am grateful for what He has done and for what He continues to do.




Saturday, June 14, 2014

I'm Not Good at Bargaining

So today we went in to the Big City once again! And all by ourselves this time! Souvineer shopping like crazy! I can't believe I only have 3 weeks left in this amazing place! Anyhow, we hit the lunar market at 7am and the pearl market later in the day after teaching English to some locals and I'm dead tired. I apologize for the lack of grammatical accuracy, (is grammatical even a word?) I just need to post 1. Because it's updating my life if anyone out there cares that much, and 2. It's part of our internship (summer staff duties). So you can say it's been a full day! 

Haggling prices for souvineers gave me more anxiety than I've ever felt in my life. I though South Africa was bad, this makes that place look like an amusement park. The shop owners were relentless. They could smell fear. Luckily for me they would just grab my friends who were unmistakably foreign and I could just go quietly about my business. That is, until I opened my mouth...

Oh! I also happened to run into a guy that I graduated high school with today, which has been the weirdest occurance thus far! It's a small world after all... 

It's been awesome how much I've grown closer with my fellow interns/coworkers, and they never fail to put a smile on my face after a long day! It's funny that I've only known them for 3 weeks! (Well that and we live together so we might as well like eachother).

Watch out Beijing, it's not the last you've seen of us! 

I really do apologize for the lack of depth this post seems to have, and I hope to make up for it in photos!


Friday, June 6, 2014

Working 9 to 5...

So I've finished my first week of working full time and I can only say that I'm exhausted. But its the good exhausted, the one where you're glad that you go to bed tired for all the right reasons, glad that your days are filled with excitement and promise and glad that your nights are filled with laughter and fellowship. This is my life, and its a pretty darn good one.

Most mornings, I'm with the children, playing and learning with them. It astounds me that although they are just preschoolers, they are learning both Chinese and English at the same time. Most days, whenever the teachers or nannies are giving instruction, the children know exactly what to do, meanwhile, I'm just staring blankly into space. Luckily most preschoolers are pretty forgiving and they usually just look at the poor Chinese American who cannot speak or understand whats going on and have pity on me.

In the afternoons, I have an hour of Chinese class after lunch. Yep. I'm attempting to learn Chinese. So that's been more or less interesting due to my ability to not absorb language well. Its mostly conversational because they knew it was bad enough trying to get me to sound right, who knows what would've happened if they would have thrown characters in there as well! After class, I'm officially to begin teaching music class to some of the older children here on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and English to foster home workers on Thursdays and Fridays and hopefully get some Chinese practice somewhere in there all the while taking photos of anything and everything! They may be posted on the foster home Facebook page, blog or website soon so keep your eyes peeled! Actually you wouldn't be able to tell if they're mine or not! The other photographers here are so incredibly gifted at what they do and its an honor to work with them!

Blog

Website

Facebook

It was nice this week settling into a routine and starting to actually get work done...I feel grown up..what is this?! I'm falling more in love with these kids every day! They are so precious and loving! I'm pretty sure I would do anything just to make them smile! I have been so incredibly blessed with this opportunity and by these kids and every person I've encountered here. My friends are so encouraging and its been wonderful to live in a community such as this.


Monday, June 2, 2014

Lost in Beijing...

Monday, our summer staff had our first big adventure in the Big City and it was absolutely fantastic! We started early at 8 in the morning, taking a bus from our small town to the nearest subway stop. From there it would take us an hour to get to inner city Beijing. We took in a couple of main sights such as the Temple of Heaven, where we got to join in the holiday festivities, mainly games and dances! I feel as if the locals got some entertainment out of a bunch of westerners trying out these games and by the looks of it, they were about as amused as we were! We also walked around hohai lake and some of the older buildings in the city as well as treating ourselves to some fried scorpion at the market. By the way. It was gross. Don't do fried scorpion. 

A funny thing about this trip was that our guide decided to leave us in the middle of the day. Yep, we had to fend for ourselves and get back home to our village before 8pm which was when the last bus left. We had good instruction and were able to navigate back home. We later prank called her pretending to have taken a wrong train. I think (hope) she was amused! 

All in all it was a great day getting to spend time together as a group. We had all been so caught up in training and orientation that we almost forgot that we're friends too! I absolutely love every single person that I'm working with! They're amazing people who have a heart for service and a heart for orphans. We all have that connection. We are here because we have a love for these kids and would do anything to see them smile. I can't believe I still have 5 weeks to spend with these gifted peeps! Ya, some of us are fluent in Chinese, insanely athletic and musical. We like to play ultimate frisbee and a few of us have a jam session every once in a while. What can I say? We're a pretty talented group! Haha! 

It's been so wonderful getting to know everyone, and we've become such fast friends as well. I live with three roommates and I must say, it's pretty crazy in our apartment. We're already to that stage of being so comfortable with each other that we borrow money, shampoo, clothes in addition to eating out together almost every night and just being crazy in general! It's been one heck of a ride and we haven't even gotten to the good part yet! We're just getting started!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Story In Which I Got More Than I Bargained For

Orientation so far has been incredible. Where I thought that I would be just taking photos of children all summer and editing those (and I'm not at all opposed to that) this internship has turned out to be so much more. First off, we are a team of 11, and we're not interns, we're summer staff. When we meet at 8 every morning, I still can't believe that I get the privilege to work along such amazing people! 

There is so much more to this place than just an internship. On our second day of the job, we were given the task of teaching English for two hours at the local middle school. We had a little bit of preparation, but other than that, we were basically tossed into the deep end and told to swim. Luckily the day went through without a hitch. We were even invited back the next day to teach the teachers as well. It was funny to see the kids faces when I walked into the classroom when they were expecting a "real" American to teach them, and they got me. Some asked me if I spoke Chinese and I would just reply "This is English class, we speak English." And I would just bluff my way through. Oh, and the official tally is up to 41 people who have tried to talk to me since I've been here.

 We met some of the children today and heard their stories and it was my first emotional experience since coming here. They are so sweet and precious and loving that I can't imagine anyone leaving them. What I want to do is adopt them myself, but apparently you have to be 30 to adopt in China, so I have some time. Seeing them just makes me realize how easy my own experience has been in comparison, they've gone through all that I had to and beyond that and it breaks my heart that I was so fortunate and they still soldier on. These kids are my heroes. And they just represent a nameless and faceless thousands that haven't made it to a loving place such as this. As part of our training, we saw some photos of the other orphanages around China, and the realities are this, there are simply not enough people to care for the orphans here. One care giver can be responsible to an upwards of 20 children. There are just stories upon stories upon stories of kids not getting the proper care. To find out more about what kind of children I'll be working here this summer, here's the blog for the foster home

 Blog

As I have been here for about a week now, I feel as if I've acclimated to living here and living among these people. My roommates are amazing, as are the other volunteers that inhabit this place. I'm beginning to accept this as life, which is both thrilling and scary at the same time because of the short time that I'm actually living here. 

We're traveling into the heart of Beijing on Monday for the annual Dragon Boat Festival which is one of the most celebrated festivals in China with only Chinese New Year and the Autumn Moon Festival being more important. The tradition spanning back to 300 b.c. When the famous poet Chu Yuan fell out of favor with the emperor and threw himself into the Mi Low river. The local people loved and respected him so much that the immediately went searching for his body, all the while throwing rice into the river so that the river dragons would not eat him. Chu Yuan was never found, but every year on the fifth day of the fifth moon, people gather and race boats that are painted to look like dragons in his honor. I cannot explain my excitement to be able to participate in such a wonderful cultural holiday. I have a growing respect for the Chinese people and their culture with civilization spanning back to the days that parallel to that of Ancient Greece. I'm proud to have come from such a people and I'm excited to share in their happiness with the upcoming holiday! 

Well, I suppose that's a good place to leave at for now! Hopefully I'll be able to write later and add some photos of the festival to accompany this blog that has gotten much too wordy for my taste! 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

So, this is China

Well, now that I've been here for a few days, I finally got internet connection and I'll be posting some of my thoughts from the last week. I'm living right outside of Beijing. So here's some of my journal enteries... The internet here is extremely spotty, so I don't think I'll be posting many if any videos from here on out.. Also, we're not allowed to take photos of the village here, unfortunately The foster home has been under government servalence for quite sometime, so I don't get to show you what the town actually looks like... Sorry...

Day 1
Well I’m all settled in at my apartment, What an interesting day. My dad was almost in tears watching me in the rearview mirror as the driver took him back to Beijing. Its only been about 6 hours since I got here and I’ve already met so many awesome people. There are two other groups here right now. One from an 11 month program called the World Race which is a mission trip that does 11 countries in 11 months! Now that is definitely going on my bucket list! I’m actually not the most well traveled in a group of people and I really like that. There are so many here with much more life experience than me and I look forward to learning from them. Since I got here on a weekend technically, the next two days should be quite interesting because I don’t have a cafeteria to eat at so I’m basically on my own in a new town. I’m pretty sure there’s some good eats around here somewhere, but I need to make some friends to find those places. My orientation should be about a week long and then we get our final assignments (thats the good part) and we start our Chinese lessons as well. It’ll be good for me to get some language in. Considering that I should probably begin to sound how I look if that makes any sense. I spoke to a couple at our hotel this morning and they seemed more surprised that perfect English was falling out of my mouth than the Chinese people I’ve encountered. For some reason, I feel absolutely wrecked right now, and its only 11:15. I’m heading to sleep. 

Day 2
Well I woke up this morning to the sound of buzzing in my ear. You know that saying that you’ll probably swallow around 12 bugs in your lifetime? I’m pretty sure that I’ll reach that quota over my time here. Its so awesome how welcoming everyone here is. I’ve already made quick friends with one of my roommates, Cara, and her friends Terin and Dennis from the amazing race and an english teacher here respectively. I had my first taste of the village from ridding on the back of Dennis’ bike this morning, through the rain. Once again. Welcome to China. haha. Most, if not all of the people that I’ve met so far have been nothing short of welcoming. They are all so amazing and well traveled and experienced, it really blows my mind. ya. to not be the first well experienced traveler in the group? not to mention, i’m one of the youngest here, most of the volunteers being at least 20, and also somewhat fluent in Chinese and considering that my Chinese is next to nonexistent, ya, I’ll admit that I feel a little daunted. So for now I’m just in this waiting period that feels like a summer camp. I start my training and Chinese classes next week. 

Day 3
Well I've now been here for a couple of days and it's been one heck of a ride. Literally, one of the first things I did here was ride on the back of a guy's bike (that I had only known for less than 24 hours, but it's cool, we're friends now) for an hour around the villiage, and that was my tour of the village. We went to the lunar market this morning and I'm still having to remind myself that this is real. I'm not going to romanticize it by any means, there was a creak next to it that smelled quite fishy, or that may have been the market itself. 

We said good bye to our friends from the World Race today as they are beginning their journey home to the states. I'm already missing them. It's crazy how you can become friends with people who have known you for less than 3 days and already feel that sadness when it's time to say goodbye. I have a feeling that they're the kind of people that I will run into again, probably when I least expect it. 

The last of the summer staff arrived this morning, so we are ten in total, from all over actually, all over the US and then also Ireland. Life stories over food from the Pink Noodle House down the road can quickly solidify most friendships I'd say. Well that plus the knowledge that we're living with each other for the next 6 weeks. Once again, I'm loving the fact that I'm probably the youngest and least experienced here. 

Every day here has been a new adventure and I'm so excited that my work hasn't even begun yet! Also, I do believe that my definition of clean will definitely shift while I'm here, in fact I can already feel it. Haha! I know I will be challenged, and I will be inspired. It's going to be (as if it hasn't already been) an amazing ride. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

One Exhausted Tourist

Well, we finished our final day exploring Beijing, and what began as a nervous venture stepping outside the doors of our comfort zone (otherwise known as the Holiday Inn) turned out be be quite a successful day. As you can imagine, when you are a foreigner who does not look like a foreigner and that said foreigner's traveling companion who actually does look foreign, navigation can be quite tricky. Most of our frustrations came from trying to find a taxi that would serve us both. Some would say no because my dad was a "Westerner" and some would say no to me because I, not being able to explain myself or my situation, unfortunately gave many the impression that I had some sort of mental disability. By the way, tally for the number of people who have spoken to me and expected a response: 31... and I'm expecting that number to rise...

Fortunately, we were able to find the few (and what a relief that was) who spoke enough english to be able to get around this maze of a city. We hit all the big sites. Tiananman Square, The Temple of Heaven and the Forbidden City. Yep, we were "those" tourists, and if there was not such thing as a language barrier, I would have totally gone for the more "off the beaten path" types of places. But, we could barely get around as it was, plus, those are world famous places, so we weren't complaining.

Funny story time: when we visited the Temple of Heaven, another tourist asked me to take his picture. He asked me to do this in Chinese. The only reason I knew what he was asking was because he held his phone out to me with the camera app open. So I just smiled and took the phone while he posed. "Yi, er, san" and then a shutter noise, I'm pretty sure he said thank you to me because, aside from knowing how to count to three, I can also recognize "xie xie"... so in other words, he fell for it! Yes!
*pumps fist triumphantly in the air*

What I find interesting about Tiananman Square is that I think it has almost two different histories. As many of you probably know, this square is famous for a student protest and subsequent massacre in 1989, but I'm sure that the locals don't even consider that to be a part of history. Another thought with a nod to George Orwell's 1984 and I'll leave it at that. For my complete thoughts on this matter, we should get together and have coffee.

Another gem we seemed to have stumbled on was the Chinese National Museum. We spent a better half of our morning exploring the exhibit on ancient China, the oldest things in there we found to be about 2000 years old. Of course there were things in there older than that, but mainly arrow heads, rock carvings or something of the sort. What we found from 4 A.D. were a pair of shoes. Shoes. I have Toms that are in worse condition than those ancient things!

The Forbidden City is absolutely huge. It is a massive complex of many buildings that are so intricately decorated that my head was spinning. We met a great tour guide named Luis who was able to help us out a ton. Not to mention, he secured a taxi for us thereafter which got us where we needed to go next, as well as back to our hotel. Luis explained the palace complex in great detail and had extensive knowledge of the history of the place. The number of stories that filled those halls were too numerous to count or to even try to recall here.

We finished the day in some sort of shopping area trying to buy stuff to prepare for my internship and dad's journey home. Noting that I am currently without a phone, we decided to replace dad's SIM card with a Chinese one so that he'll leave me his phone and get another once he returns to the states the day after tomorrow.

I'm heading to my internship at the foster home tomorrow afternoon and I'm very nervous. Prayers are greatly appreciated. Seriously. I'm trying to figure out just exactly how I'm going to take care of myself and not screw anything up for the next six weeks, because my track record so far with this stunt I pulled losing my phone on the first day isn't looking so good. I'm praying for peace and that I won't forget the reason that I'm here in the first place, to work and serve. I pray that my eyes will be opened and that my heart will ache for this beautiful country and its people.

I'm drifting now. Dad's snoring once again. It might be a long night....I'll try and have some photos up soon. Thank you all for the reading and your continuous support!




Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Meet Destinee!!!!


This is Destinee! We're from the same orphanage in Ma'anshan, China....

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Back to the Beginning

Here's the video footage from my orphanage yesterday in Ma'anshan.



Sunday, May 18, 2014

Nanjing Today, Maanshan Tomorrow

Well, for those of you who are actually out there reading this and are either slightly interested in this adventure or are just humoring me, the good news is, we made it...Bad news, we had some slight bumps along the way... well first off, me being the wonderfully intelligent international traveler that I am, left my phone in a taxi, and more than likely, its long gone... so until I get all of that settled...no one call me, or a middle aged chinese man will pick up the phone.

Anyways, the rest of the day was actually pretty good, despite the horrible beginning. Dad and I wandered around the Nanjing mall and surrounding downtown area. We got lost a least four times and dad didn't want to take a chance on any of the local street food. By the time we got out of the hotel door, we were already turning heads. Its really funny, I actually blend in here quite well, but when you put me with a 6'3" American, thats when you get stared at. I lost count after 30 for the number of stares we got. Its weird, I've never felt more self-conscious about my ethnicity until I actually got to the place where I should be the least concerned about that. Its just funny, growing up, my friend groups were predominantly white, so I guess I'm just not used to seeing so many Asians in one place... Hahaha... Another thing that happened several times today was that whenever my father failed in his excellent international communication skills, the locals turned to me for an explanation/translation. Unfortunately, all I could do in those situations was shake my head and try my best to explain to them why I could only speak English.

When we went to dinner, we ended up wandering around until we happened upon a restaurant that had photos of the food with English subtitles. I couldn't help but think of that funny scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where his friend Brodie was in the middle of a foreign market square screaming "DOES ANYBODY SPEEK ENGLISH". Dat language barrier though! We also entertained ourselves with a little game of, how many white people can you see. I think the most we got to was five total.

What an odd mindset we Americans have. We just expect everyone to adapt to our language, our culture, and our attitudes. The thing about Nanjing is that its not a big touristy hub. Not too many foreigners think of it as the first place they want to see when they visit China. Its very industrialized, very grey, smog covers the skyline, and there are people literally everywhere. My first thought of it when we were in the thieving taxi driver's car was that this was my ideal setting for George Orwell's 1984. There was nothing strikingly beautiful or even remarkable. Its just that. A city. All the people I encountered today passed in a blur, although a few stuck out. At one point, Dad and I were walking by some shops and I saw a little girl squatting down to use the restroom on the side of the street. Like I said, completely different culture.

I'm excited to return to my birthplace tomorrow. I have no idea what to expect. We'll be visiting my orphanage of course as well as my drop off place (where I was left). Now thinking about my adoption, I've actually noticed quite a few people carrying around little girls today and I can't help but wonder at what point did they change their minds? I mean society as a whole? I can imagine that there are still plenty of little girls out there who have been abandoned, but if people are beginning to keep them now, I really do wonder what changed their minds. I can't help but wonder why or how anyone could ever imagine giving up their own child. Well obviously its possible for some people or else I wouldn't be writing this entry in the first place.

Now I'm beginning to ramble. I suppose I should sleep now. I'm not entirely sure how long I've been awake and my dad is currently snoring in the other bed in the room. I would've been posting photos and videos, but once again, I'm phoneless. So until we meet again!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Departing in... 3 Hours.... Sitting at an Airport...


So I'm currently sitting in the Houston airport and my flight leaves in 3 hours. Yes, I know, I got a flight at 1am....this is insane. I also got about 3 hours of sleep last night due to some work that I had to finish before I left. Yep! I'm GOING TO CHINA!!! It is still so surreal and I'm having a really hard time believing this is actually happening. I'll be there for seven weeks and I can't wait to see what is in store for me! This first week I'm going back to where it all began. Yep... I'm going back to my birthplace of Maanshan. I have no idea what to expect. I'm going to be visiting my orphanage as well as the place where I was found.

Honestly, this is the most I've given thought over the matter. My whole life I've just accepted the fact that I was left on a street as just a small part of my story. My life has been so much more than where it began. I've always thought of Texas as my home and that my parents were always my parents. I couldn't care less if they didn't give birth to me. I love them with all my heart and can't thank them enough for all they've done for me, including getting me back to the beginning. So here's my first video journal. Here's the beginning of my story.








Thursday, March 27, 2014

Where I'll be in Two Months

So I've just been informed that my dad has taken the plunge and has bought my tickets to China today! So here's a recap of what will happen. I'll be working in Beijing from May 25th through July 4th. I'll be a photographer and an extra set of hands the duration of my internship. For more info, this is where I'll be.

China Foster Home

I'm so happy to have this opportunity to work this summer and meet new people and just for the adventure in general! Since I've last written, my dad has informed me that he wants to take me to my birth place of Ma'anshan before I get settled in at new day. This has always been a dream of ours to return to China together and it's actually coming true!

Thank You all for reading! The official count down is T-Minus 51 Days!!!!!! 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Spring Break ...Return to New Orleans

It's spring break and time for a trip go good old New Orleans! I've been coming here for break for a good 4-5ish years now and I've always remembered the city like an old friend. The trips have consistently been filled with good friends, good food and plenty of laughter. There's the beautiful French Quarter which boasts the famous Cafe Du Monde and its beignets, and world renowned food such as gumbo and jambalaya.

But its not the food or the culture that keeps us coming back, its the work that we come here to do. We come down every year to work in the Ninth Ward, an area that was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Yes, its been nine years and there is still plenty of work here to be done. Some of the houses and buildings still have the original survivor counts lingering in spray paint on the outer walls. We partner with an organization called His Hands To Go, which is a group of churches that decided to lend their facilities to reconstruction and church groups after the hurricane hit. We have done demolition jobs, construction, yard work, and paint jobs for several houses. One of the most remarkable things that happens every year is that we get to hear the people's stories. They have had to put their lives back together after the great tragedy and they carry it with such grace and dignity. They are some of the bravest people I've ever met. They have struggled and they have come so far. It makes me take a step back every time I come down. A lot of the original aid that was sent has already been long gone. These are projects that take years and there are no "quick fixes" when it comes to rebuilding lives. I'm thankful for the experiences I've had here and I'm blessed to be able to come back this year as a sponsor for the next generation of world changers.



Friday, February 21, 2014

Update on my adventures for anyone out there

Well, to start off, it's been a hectic semester so far. I'm taking 17 hours and my weeks are completely full of chaos. Not really, but it feels like that. I'm definitely getting back into my coffee routine quite nicely. I've heard back from the internship in Beijing and...I'M DEFINITELY GOING TO CHINA THIS SUMMER!!!! I'm so flipping excited! I can't wait for this new adventure! The Guatemala trip unfortunately fell through due to having to change the dates of my internship. Long story short, some people just happen to turn on you sometimes, you never know why or what snapped, but it just happens... I guess every once in a while, we all get caught up in our own interests. Some times you win, sometimes you lose. Anyways, my father will be joining me on my journey there so that we can go visit my orphanage. This will be my first time back since my adoption so I have no idea what's in store for me. But let's start at the beginning, this is my adoption story:

I was born in November of 1994 in Maanshan, China in the Anhui provence. I was left on a street corner after I was born, so I was told. Police found me and took me to the local orphanage where I lived for the next seven months. I was adopted in June by my loving parents. They had tried previously to have children for 19 years before deciding to adopt. According to them, I was an answered prayer. I'm not entirely sure how accurate this is for all the trouble I've caused them since then, but life has been good so far. I know of at least 3 of my "sisters", we are spread out literally ALL over the country. One here in Texas, one in Indiana, and another in California. I've unfortunately lost contact with the other two. One of my sisters, Destinee is currently in China now going to school! I will hopefully get to see her this summer when I go! Here's her blog for those who are interested! http://destineeling.tumblr.com



As far as that photo goes, I'm the one in the stripes, embarrassingly enough matching my mother.... and Destinee is on the far right. She's the one I've gotten to know well enough over the years because we grew up about 3 hours away from each other. Luckily we got to see on another every now and then! 

And that's us a couple of months before we both started college...Time really flies. 


Being adopted hasn't really affected my life as much as people may think. There are actually days when I forget that I look nothing like the rest of my family...Haha... I am completely Americanized and love my life. Since coming to college, I've made so many new friends. I think that it is quite funny that I've been pursued by both Asians for Christ, the Chinese Student Association, and Asian sororities. It's hard to explain to them that I share almost none of their culture... I'm happy the way my life turned out and embrace the fact that I'm a banana..that is, Asian on the outside, white on the inside, or twinkie, whichever one is more relatable.... Seriously though, I'm like the whitest asian my friends have ever met. 

Well, thats my "background" story I guess. I believe every character in Life has an incredible story that links them to others and is continuously molding them. People wouldn't be themselves without their unique experiences and stories. So I will leave you with a little Walt Whitman: 

"That you are here-- That life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse."


Quidditch is a Thing

Hey everyone! So I go to Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and something thats really cool here is that we have a Quidditch team! Ya, Quidditch is a real thing! We're actually really good at it too! #4 in the world to be exact! We made a final four appearance at the World Cup last year and we're looking to do so again! For all the randos out there that are interested in this wacky thing and want to help us get all the way to Myrtle Beach SC, you can check us out here.... http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/get-baylor-quidditch-to-world-cup-vii?c=pledges ...For all who are just interested in Quidditch in general, you can go to http://iqaquidditch.com ... Thanks for all the reading, or who ever is out there actually reading this blog... I'm not sure how to tell on this thing... but Thanks anyways!!!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Those We Encounter

Life. It is an interesting thing you know. Just when you think it couldn't get any more boring or mundane, something happens. It doesn't have to be a big something, just a significant something. Take today for instance. I just so happened to stop by my local Barnes and Noble today just to get away from campus for a bit. I went in to do some home work and talk with a friend over coffee. We were having a good time and enjoying each other's company when I couldn't help but notice that we were being watched by an elderly gentleman sitting a table over. As it turned out, I was being sketched by a local artist named Stanley. With a kind face, he smiled as I asked questions about his work. He very eagerly showed me several sketches he had done that day while sitting in the bookstore.. It is truly amazing the kind of people we come across on a daily basis and never seem to notice them. I wonder what would happen if we did take the time?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sitting at work trying to figure things out

So as I had earlier described, I'm trying to make it to both Guatemala and China this summer. I'm currently sitting at my typical job that a person without a degree can hold that pays a little better than minimum wage trying to figure out the whole money thing. And yes, selling my blood/kidney has crossed my mind. And no, I don't do needles. I love my job right now, don't get me wrong, but I need to make a little more in a little less time. So much for savings or a 401k whatever that is anyway. I think all my money for the rest of my life will be spent on travel expenses and camera equipment, and I'm completely fine with that. It's just a matter of getting from place to place that concerns me. Flights are not cheap... I love the fact that I can always stay with friends in most places I travel to. The people you meet on your travels have the potential to be some of your best friends in life. I'm extremely thankful for the friends I've made over the years. It only sucks when the time differences affect your Skype and FaceTime meetings!