The View from China
Feb 16, 2012
Lydia Freeman, managing editor of The Rampage, was one of two students to study in China last May through an exchange program at Jiangsu Second Normal University. Four students from BC will participate this year: T.J. Huff, Rachel Stairs, Morgan Lloyd, and Corey Royal.
This May, four students will board a plane to travel up through Canada, over Alaska, grazing the Pacific, laying over in Tokyo, and finishing with a four-hour flight into Beijing. They will feel jetlag making them dizzy and turning China into a surreal dream. They will smell China, wondering what that smell is… it’s not bad, it’s just… China.
Lydia Freeman during her visit to China
I see the four students in the halls, in classrooms, at school events. Sometimes I will meet their eyes, smile, speak a rushed whisper: China. And we share a smile that comes with knowing.
I want to live through them. Live through them the way parents live through their children as they scream for them to get the winning goal. I played soccer when I was ten with a girl who got a dollar for every goal she scored. I didn’t understand why her parents needed those goals so much.
Until now. Now I want to send these students to China with letters in their suitcases for my friends. I want to write them lists of things they have to do. Be brave. Go to the light tunnel. If Tom and Linnea are still there, get them to take you to the noodle restaurant. Get one of those green tea smoothies with the red beans in the bottom. The red beans are awful, but the smoothie is amazing. Ride the bus to nowhere and get off somewhere new. Ask them to take you to the cool underground bookstore. Sing karaoke at KTV.
I wonder if they will be able to find the piece of my heart I left there. What if I draw them a map? Maybe I left my heart with Kiny; I think she graduated. I want to see her again. I want someone to see her again. Take her picture. See if she’s doing well. Hear her say “beautiful” for me.
I miss China. I saw a power line last month and thought, just for a second, it was the Great Wall stretching over the mountain. Sometimes I dream in China. Nanjing’s overflowing streets, cars on the sidewalk, playing basketball with Chinese boys.
Lynn Yarborough is the missionary who set up the China exchange at Jiangsu Second Normal University. I went the second year, and only one other BC student went with me to China. She asked me why more students didn’t go. I told her it was probably money, giving up a month of summer, fear. And as I looked through her eyes, it became strange.
Because money isn’t as valuable as sleeping while your family is waking; as having friends who will wish you happy birthday twelve hours early, because in China, you already turned twenty-one. Nothing is as valuable as leaving home and only being able to look back at your country, your culture, through memories … memories fade so fast.
Perspective is a series of valuable gems. You are born with one; you have to fight for more. This summer, four students chose to go to China. But whoever you are, freshman, sophomore, junior, know that you have a chance next year. Life passes quickly. Tomorrow you will be dead, and your life will seem like an endless stream of yesterdays.
Consider China. Sometimes one decision will stretch much farther than you ever suspected it could.