SO I WAS IN CHINA? NI HAO 你好
One of our first outings was at the Theater to see the Grand Chinese Opera.
This photo above is our first dinning in Guiyang, the city of 3 million that Chinese refer to as a small city. I love the spicy food in this region and the people are so wonderful here.
This photo above will be in the next chapter of my Chinese blogging, but here is our group in Shanghai’s Jin Jiang Hotel. left to right: Elizabeth (Betty) Me, Linda, her husband, John, Jane, and Barbara on our way to our last dinner in Shanghai. By the way, John Peacock is a Native American poet who will interest you poets out there. His wife, Linda is a blast, I mean, a fun person to know.
This photo above was taken in front of (毛泽东) Mao Zedong’s, pronounced Mao Tse-tung statue. Our group was escorted to tour our second city of Guiyang soon after we arrived in the 3 million people city. Opposite the monument is the largest Walmart compound you have ever seen, and I was thinking how ironic that was when the crowds noticed our strange group, and a bunch of people rushed to me to beg to be photographed with them. The funny thing was that this girl with the brown highlighter was the biggest of my fans, who quickly posed with me, but later discovered she had no camera of her own. She pleaded for me to wait for her to get a camera, and when she did, she already had a crowd who wanted to be in the photo. My favroite is the elderly woman here. She could not get her eyes off me, and was glad just to be in the photo even if she never saw the photo or me again.
And those I met treated me with the utmost love and reception. It was unbelievable why so many Chinese people loved me so much. It was amazing how kindly they received our entire group. Explore with me, will you?
So why did I photograph Walmart in Guiyang, China? If anyone needed a department store, it was me. My luggage of two suitecases were lost between Los Angeles and Beijing. My airlines let me down, for nine days, I almost had no change of clothes except the two or three items I carried in my overnight. So, I needed Walmart. Throughout Beijing and now Guiyang, I could not find clothes or shoes that fit me. Walmart had a couple things that I could use, so I went in the next day to a crazy store. The irony of the statue of the Communist leader and Walmart opposit each other was interesting to me.
So Why Was I in China??? Hello?
I was on a delegation of People to People Citizen Ambassadors, visiting with eighteen other scholars, professors, writers, teachers, and retired professors to serve on the Educational Equity and Social Justice Team. We visited three Chinese cities between Dec. 9-19, but our long trip began on Dec. 7. We flew from Los Angeles, California on the evening of Dec. 7, losing Dec. 8 (Monday) in the clouds, arriving in our first city of Beijing, China at 8 a.m. The rest of the trip is filled with amazing site-seing, interesting meetings with college officials, students, classroom visits, eating, eating, eating, busy on the move. In between, I will give a picture of my amazing journey with a bunch of the best women team members in the world, the laughing and sharing with both our group members and the people of China. You will be surprised to know that I was finally a celebrity in China. From the city of Beijing to Guiyang and to Shanghai, the Chinese people loved me. Women, men, young girls, not too diffeernt from American college students, old men and women flocked out after me, wanting to be photographed with me, wanting to touch my hair, my hands, posing with the peace sign everywhere, sparkling eyes, they came, to my utter surprise. But I too, had a camera, so I too caught their loving smiles, their excitement over my Africaness or my womaness or my blackness or whatever it was they thought I was. There were two other black women in our group, so everyone could not get it. But what was apparent to me was that these people loved strangers; they loved us, the entire group; they felt connected to us. I wish I had time only for them, for their company, to follow them where they came from to know them, to know what it is that makes them smile, cry and laugh. To follow the college girls who surrounded me with their love, holding on to my arm, squeezing me in their midst, refusing to let go of me. To know their tears as well as their achievements. But time is so inadequate, so unkind, and the separation by land and sea so vast. Most of all, the separation by politics so physical, and yet so unreal.
In Beijing, we visited the Forbidden City, an amazing old empire city that is so endless, it takes 2 hours or more just to walk through even without entering a building. Here are a few clips of this preview of my visit there. This was my first request for a photo at the entry to the FORBIDDEN CITY.
The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the mid-Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is located in the middle of Beijing, China.
Troops in review at the entry to the Forbidden City
Here in this photo in the Forbidden City gates is another one of my impromptu poses with Chinese people who wanted a photo with me. I learned to also have someone do a photo for me because I too wanted to find time to study what all this excitement over me was for. My friend, Betty, one of the three black women in our team is standing at the other end. Over and over, I noticed the difference between how the Chinese would pose and how we are used to here in the US. I usually would give a half embrace, but they would place and arm in between my arm and the other around my shoulder. To me, that showed a better kind of affection than my half embrace.
FINALLY, HERE WE ARE BELOW, CLIMBING THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA: My roomate Carlie, with the support of another team member, Dawn were the only two in our group who climbed the highest peek at our end of the Great Wall. We were all afraid for Carlie because she is over seventy and had just heard news of her ill mother, but she proved us all wrong with her strength and endurance. The wall was filled with icy snow and the stairs were treasurous to climb. I went up only one one hundredths of the way- hey, but I was there, and I got a sweatshirt to prove it.
Here, our team members are determined to climb the Great Wall of China. Below and moving up is Dawn Burke in the black shawl, a very strong woman and professor whom I admire greatly. At the top to cheer on are Trish and of course, Carlie, the determined one. I am not even in this photo because I am down there trying to follow, but of course, I was too afraid of the ice and my Chinese bought shoes did not have the grip the boots in my then lost suitcase have. I am below in the photo, huffing and puffing and dragging my body down after a few steps. Life just isn’t fair.
A nine year old girl from Malaysia came to me and wanted to photograph me because she liked my hair. Her family were touring China from Malaysia, she said, and I let her catch me in my lazy movement.