Culture Shock – In Reverse

Last night I spent some time with a young American couple.  They are here in Liuzhou with their three kids studying Chinese at the university.  It was a bit odd actually, culture shock in reverse if you will.  I mean, it is rare for me to have a conversation of any length and know that I am being understood, let alone with a three-year old boy!

My earlier concerns about the couple being Louisville Cardinal fans were unfounded.  They moved here from the Louisville area but they are actually Illinois fans.  I can live with that.

This is the oldest boy, show here waiting for his pizza.  At 7, he was super well-behaved, setting a good example for his brothers.

Mini Laowai

Mini Laowai

In Liuzhou there aren’t so many laowai (foreigners), and of those who are here it’s not like we all get together for barbecues and beer.  I know in some larger cities there are thriving expat communities but here in Liuzhou that’s not the case.  Those that are here, come and go relatively quickly, so getting to know folks can be difficult.  Since the end of last term when Jo Ellen returned to Cincinnati I have been in language withdrawal.  I haven’t seen my friend Ken since then either.  That means, up until last night, I haven’t had a conversation with a native English speaker for almost a month.  I felt like I was on drugs, giddy almost, moving from one subject to another without really finishing the first one, so much to talk about!  Afterward, we went across the street for shaved ice.  The middle son, 5, never stopped moving and was the most talkative of the three.  I was lucky to catch him here (right) with his brother before he scooted off again.

Mini Laowai X2

Mini Laowai X2

The youngest boy was a bit shy at first but by the end of the night had come out of his shell.  Yeah I know he looks so sweet here, angelic almost, but don’t let the picture fool you.  30 seconds later he attacked me.  They were typical boys and that was perfect.

Innocent - Not

Attack Imminent

All in all, a pretty good day here in south China.  I am happy to have new friends who aren’t crazy appear to be normal.  You can laugh, but as an expat in a foreign land the foreign “friend pickins” are sometimes slim.  People end up here for all kinds of reasons, finding decent folks who don’t appear to have any weirdness about them is cause for celebration!  Another of the good guys, my friend Jim, is returning to Liuzhou next week, so things are definitely looking up.

The weather, again, is crazy good right now.  Well into the 70’s both yesterday and today with a hint of the humidity which is waiting just around the corner.  I actually broke out in a sweat for a while.

I’m preparing a series of interviews with some remarkable China photographers, both foreign and local. I have made some good friends and contacts with many photographers here in China and I am daily blown away by their vision and talent.  I thought it might be nice to share some of that vision here with you.  Stay tuned…

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~ by Expatriate Games on February 8, 2009.

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