I arrived, once again, back at home on Sunday, July 29th at night around 11pm. After 18 hours of flights, 11 hours of layovers (one of my flights was delayed) and one short drive home, I was finally back in RI.
Being home and looking back on the past three weeks feels odd. When I was there, I can remember the long days and the little details (I even have them written down). But now, looking back at it as one experience, I see a completely picture. The lesions which I learned while traveling abroad are now much clearer. Without having to think about the single, small aspects of the trip, it became a lot easier to funnel my thoughts. I can now focus on many of the new ideas and concepts which I learned while being there because my view and overall frame of reference has changed.
For instance, I can now look back and my trip and see how many of my preconceptions (along with many of the common American stereotypes of the Chinese) are so different. Of course, many things in China are different, especially in the more rural areas such as Shaxi. However, the majority of the rural community does not live impoverished. They are not all farmers and their meals don’t consist of “odd foods”. They are hardworking people who put the community first, and themselves second. They don’t consistently clean and groom their houses not because they are lazy, but because they care more about the use of and the meaning of their historic town rather than it’s outward appearance. The exteriors of temples will be littered with rubble and sometimes trash, and that is ok because to them it means that someone had been their and found use of the space, that people were meeting and coming together. They are an extraordinary people capable of creating beautiful things. In my mind I had a single story of China, a single perspective and a single tale of what the country was and how it acted, all from the American view. I am happy to say that I was wrong. I find pleasure in the fact that I learned these things.
The other ability that this trip bestowed within me was the opportunity to look back at my life and see the changes that I wanted to make. I realized while being in China that there were many things which I wanted to change with my life. I was either missing opportunities or spending my time in the wrong places, while there were many things I wished that I could improve on when I returned. Being away from the normal hum-drum of daily life in the US gave me the opportunity to actually look at what I was doing whiteout being blinded by actually doing it. I am also very thankful for this as has now provided me with many other opportunities which I would not have had in any other instance.
I wanted to end this off by saying two things. The first is that I am very, very thankful for all the support that everyone has given me. Even if you did not donate, you still had an impact in this entire endeavor and I thank you. The other that is I will b upload a google folder in the near future containing all of the photos that I took while I was in China, because I did promise after all that I would bring you with me…