China Dispatch-A desire to know Americans

Posted on February 26, 2010 by

Yesterday, my wife and I were heading to the Shanghai Museum and on the way in a young Chinese woman in her early 20’s and her male friend came over and offered to take our photo. Her friend was a childhood buddy from their hometown a couple of hours a way and they both proceeded ask us questions about America and our interests and our films and books and also told us about themselves. They were so curious and wanting to show off their english (which is excellent), I found them refreshing and a delight to be around. They suggested that instead of seeing the museum, we should come with them to a nearby teahouse, which we did. Three hours later, we left the teahouse after an interesting discussion with them about everything under the sun. The young man was one year out of college and working with his father at his wig factory until he could figure out what he wanted to do. His interests are varied including an avid love for American films, lately Avatar, which he loved but also older films such as Titanic which he saw ten times. His hobbies are singing American songs in a kind of Kascifichinareoke experience in the evening with his friends, video games, reading science fiction (which he says is a growing trends in China), traveling to other countries and being with old friends. Both wanted to tell me the respect the Chinese have for Obama and the tough job they know he has. They are hoping for more integration between the Chinese people and Americans and how they feel that Americans would like their culture and history of which they are so proud. I was amazed at their facility with the English language and obvious their love of speaking it. I felt the fool for know so little Mandarin. That afternoon, they were heading fr the circus and afterwards to be with friends. The energy and love for life was so obvious and fun to experience. Now I mention this couple for a reason. First, they engaged us and really wanted to learn from speaking to us. They wanted is to know how the average Chinese citizen wants to learn from Americans and that there is an information void notwithstanding the internet. I felt like they were a kind of window into the future and when I left them felt more optimistic for some reason. China is such a dynamic place–not just the fact of growth and expansion here but a need to learn and grow and yearning for integration with individuals from other parts of the world. I know many of the problems of the Chinese leadership–the human rights violations, lack of rule of law, piracy of intellectual property etc. but all of that seems a glitch in the future of things as it relates to the incredible people i have met here. I now feel a desire to learn the language (my daughter is fluent) in order to better understand the people and their culture here. With al the problems in the world, there are none which cannot be overcome with a unified worldwide convergence of intellect and effort. This can and will occur. I am more convinced than ever before.

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