Sunday, March 4, 2012

March 4th Update- Adventures of English-Speaking Foreigners

Today began just as each day here has begun- wake slowly, rejoice that it isn't 4am, slide feet into little slippers left for each guest in their hotel room, dial boys room number, go to breakfast. Get Elijah multiple glasses of apple juice, try the mystery vegetables, wrestle with rice and chopsticks, sit as close to the coffee machine as possible. It was after breakfast that our great adventure began....

While walking around the city yesterday, Matt and I found a fairly large park within a few blocks of hotel that we thought Elijah might enjoy running around in. There were various areas of the park that we could see from the entrance, places to sit, etc that could eat up a few hours of boredom during our free weekend here in zhengzhou. At breakfast, we decided that the boys would venture to the park, while I headed next door to the crown plaza gym and Angela set to work on our travel information for the next leg of our trip. After a nice workout-turned-opportunity for businessmen to practice English with girl on next treadmill, I passed our hotel and set out to find the boys at the park.

As I passed through the park entrance, a little boy ran up to me and asked if I spoke English. When I replied, he grabbed my hand and started running towards a back corner of the park that I couldn't see behind some trees. As we approached, I could see a large crowd had formed underneath a pagoda- at least a hundred people. In the midst of them, I could see Dad's-ahem, distinguished-head rising out of the crowd, arms gesturing expressively as the people around him laughed and asked questions. In another section of the pagoda, I found Matt surrounded with college-aged students, talking about philosophy and religion. Elijah was running around with some children, playing games and looking at a child's textbook. I could see that there were several other westerners in the crowd, too- needless to say, I was completely bewildered by this situation. What had my dear family done to draw such a crowd?

What we had been pulled into was a section of the park called an 'English corner'- a public area designated for citizens to come and practice their English with one another. Little did they know that today, they would find actual English speakers to practice with! We were practically celebrities. We took so many pictures, and were totally overwhelmed with everyone's enthusiasm for our general existence. It was a blast!

Many of the people at the park were college students that were studying English, and we're very well spoken. They asked very good questions, both about our adoptions and about American life and culture. I was surprised at how many of them understood the concept of Americans adopting Chinese children- and not only accepted it, but really supported it, and made sure to tell us that we had 'big, good heart' and that the kids were 'so very lucky'. When I look at my family, I have to agree- but I think that even more, we are the lucky ones.

Our conversations ranged from american customs relating to marriage and housing and parents, to cultural things like tv and music. It seems that Gilmore Girls is quite a popular way to learn English here, with Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy coming in close behind. What pictures of American culture! Another highlight was the students attempting to say the name of the governor of California- that even I can't say, let alone spell, so i will spare you- we all got a good laugh out of that. The conversations were punctuated with small children interjecting simple questions such as, 'do you like apple?' 'what is your favorite color?' and 'do you play sport?' -clearly using the little English phrases that they learn in school. I was also sporting my Vibram FiveFingers shoes, which completely bewildered most of the people, especially the older adults. Matt's dreadlocks were also a hot topic of discussion. We must be quite a riot to them!

After about two hours at the English Corner, we headed back to the hotel for lunch. Earlier in the day, we had met several people staying in our hotel that were adoption veterans looking to start a nonprofit foster care program of sorts in a local orphanage- we actually had seen one of their existing projects in the zhengzhou orphanage a few days ago- I don't remember the exact name, something with Gracie? I am sure you'll know, mom :) anyway, they were headed into lunch at the same time we were, so we found two tables next to each other and exchanged adoption stories, comments on the homemade liquors in the front of the dining area (seahorse, being the most notable) and tips on good menu items. This afternoon, they are going to visit Swallow's Nest, a name that I know that I have heard tossed about but can't remember in what context. And yes, mom, they had heard of you. You are infamous, even with people from Denver and Canada! Anyway, I am excited to hear about their trip- hopefully we will see them tonight.

Tomorrow morning we depart for Xi'an via bullet train- exciting- and around 4pm we will meet Jack! We are praying that he is well, and that he is receptive to us. Of course, after Elijah hiding in a pink backpack for an hour, I think we will be okay! We are also looking forward to, hopefully, meeting up with our missions coordinator from college, Christian, who lives in Xi'an- and maybe even a visit to the terra cotta warriors!

Pray for peace and continual bonding for all of us, and especially for Elijah as we transition from one child to two- that he might easily shoulder the role of big brother and that sharing/possessiveness would not be an issue. Pray also for continued energy for all of us- we are finally sleeping well, but tomorrow things will certainly change with Jack.

Mom! You're getting a son for your birthday- how cool! Wo ai ni!

Sent with AGAPE LOVE from my iPad!