I envy you, that’s right, you.
Because if you’re reading this and paying attention, let me tell you, honestly, you have the chance to embark on a journey, that will change your life forever. You have the chance to see and experience a world that I can only ever look back on, in my deepest and most precious memories. You have the opportunity now to embrace a country that will welcome you with open arms and warm smiles. The kinds of priceless memories I have taken away from China revolve around just two things, the people, and the places.
Over the past four months, I can promise you that I have ‘lived,’ lived more than in my entire life previously. I have seen things, been places that you cannot even imagine. I’ve discovered places not only out there, in the undiscovered country, but inside my very self. No guide book or brochure can prepare for the emotions you will experience.
The utter dread of standing in front of 200 people you have never met before and telling them about your life, easy you might say, well perhaps, but when they compare you to Tom Cruise and ask you if you came to China for a girlfriend, it’s fair to say it gets hotter under the collar. But right from that very moment, you learn something about yourself; you learn its ‘ok’ to be here, that these people are so curious and inquisitive without having the slightest edge or ulterior motive to their actions. All they want is to know you, to talk, to become friends with the first ‘white’ person they have ever encountered. And right from that moment, you are hooked, drawn into a simpler culture and lifestyle, one that doesn’t revolve around your next car, your next holiday or your new hairstyle. But rather, it centres on people’s basic decency and their ability to interact in a social and friendly atmosphere like family.
I felt closer to home in Emei, than in my ‘real’ home in England, and I am not ashamed to say that. In fact, I feel liberated, so much wiser and stronger for having challenged myself and come through with flying colours. I have made friends out there who I’ll continue to talk to for the rest of my life, and it is not because we have the same favourite colour or iPod, it’s because we are both growing up in a world where there is so much opportunity to fulfil your dreams, if only you have the courage to try.
Our common humanity unites us, such truth, so humbling. If you’ve ever wondered what there is out there, if you’ve ever felt lost or dispassionate, like there was something you thought you knew, only now, you can’t even remember what is was, I beseech you, go to China, and find yourself, as I did.
John W, AV China