In a month and a half, I will be heading back to Shandong, China. That is, if all the paperwork goes smoothly from here on out. I received an email just a few hours ago notifying me about a new law that went into effect China-wide for any foreigner wanting to work there. With the new law comes more fingerprinting, notarizing, etc. with our updated criminal background check that will need to be first inspected at the Chinese consulate nearby. Then, the originals will go with me to the Chinese city and be given to whoever needs them to do whatever it is that they will do with them. I lack the correct verb to apply in this case because I really don’t know what the local PSB (government) will do. Thankfully, I do not fret since there is nothing to hide. 😉
Through this process, my wife and I have had thoughts that have gone back and forth like a ship in an undecided sea. At times, an email has given us hope of going to the embassy within the next 2-3 weeks, while other messages set us another 2 steps back, as if we were playing Candyland. This game, as some may refer to it as, displays how comfortable I have become here in America. I didn’t think that I was becoming this way until my eyes were unveiled. It makes me think of one of my brothers-in-law who, when he comes back to the US for furlough, only returns for a few months before going to his field for the proceeding 2-3 years. Sad to say… it has been too long. I feel this time in the States has made me too comfortable. Am I blaming the US? No. Am I blaming other people or things? Absolutely not! I am looking inside of myself here and being honest about something that could become a struggle for anyone resistant inside before and during changing lands.
My wife had the opportunity to teach Chinese this year at HNHS, and through that, she was able to DAILY study Chinese, watch Chinese TV shows, and the list goes on. She has challenged me in how she is still studying this summer. Language is one of many ways to get to know and become more like the people, so I don’t want to focus on that too much. What has come to my mind recently is the fact that joins with becoming too comfortable. I am a little scared. At times, I don’t know how I will do in certain aspects when it comes to living in China. Though we will be living on the school campus in a building with other foreign teachers our first year back, we do not plan to seclude ourselves from the beauty that makes up China, and that includes the people and so much more.
When this fear shows its face, there are a few things I do in order to gather my stones. One of those includes getting together with a Bridge Friend. Bridge Friends are those local nationals that can help you in talking/thinking through various scenes to widen your mind’s horizon. I have a few in China for different reasons be it culture, teaching methods, you name it. While listening to China Road by Rob Gifford, I have been inspired more and more to inquire when it comes to observations of life in China. And that’s what I intend to do a great deal of this time back. Ask and learn from others, nationals and foreigners alike, rather then assume my way is right. Both shall ease the fear.