It isn't Africa, but of equal interest to me. In just two short weeks I will be moving to China for at least the next year of my life. I am officially an employed professor of English and the Harbin University of Commerce in Harbin, China. Harbin, China is located in Heilongjiang province in Northeastern China just below Russia, to the side of Mongolia and above North Korea. Yes, it is very cold.
I am going to China because I know it is what I am supposed to do. This is my first real opportunity to go somewhere, live, learn and build substantial relationships. Like I mentioned, it isn't Africa like I always thought it would be, but it is a place with need like any. Even beyond that, it is a place that needs to be desperately understood by more Westerners. I don't presume that I will accomplish 100% understanding of the Chinese culture, but even if I grasp 5%, I will be much better off than I currently stand. Another important aspect for me is that I will not be going alone, but with a group of my closest friends from Pepperdine that I graduated with. I believe, almost above all things, that an established community is essential in all of life's experiences. Whether you are with one other person or 20, community is necessary for strength. I once spent a month traveling around Southeast Asia by myself and by the time I was in Vietnam (final destination), I was talking to myself and starting a conversation with anyone that looked like they were friendly, even when we didn't speak the same language. One night as I lay in my bed reminiscing on all the adventures I had had, I began to cry as I realized that no one would ever know these stories and experiences except for me. Of course I can tell them to other people, but beside my word, which I'm good for, no one has any reason to believe me, or listen to me for that matter. This singular experience led me to conclude that memories that are not shared with another are as good as memories that never really existed and that is unfortunate because often times, memories propel us to move forward in life.
So, there are many thoughts I have about going to China and what it will be like and what will happen of which I will spare writing about here, but mainly I expect nothing except to be challenged and changed for the better. I imagine that I will have quite a lot to say in about three more weeks from this night. At that point, I will rejoice with my group, wander around the city of Harbin, prepare for classes, meet more people than an introvert like myself would normally care to, and then, I will write an update to let you in on some of that joy.