Saturday, January 05, 2013

China Winter Tour - December 31

Robin Reif - December 31
Jin Li Street - Bobby, Sophie and the Lee Family 
Say "AHHH"
If you like to down foreign culture with a spoonful of sugar, look no further than JinLi Street. It’s the Chengdu equivalent of “olde” town sections of Stockholm, Paris or London. Predictably quaint with photo ops, souvenirs and snacks galore, it’s the perfect wind-down for our last day together. Time to solidify friendships without the distraction of aggressive schedules or absorbing new sites. Time just to hang.
Chuck and Grace
The Girls and Uncle Wu
Ruthie, Robin, Gongzhan
Tonight is time to say good-bye at a New Year’s celebration. We exchange contact information, make plans to reconnect in the States, take too many photos, hug our guides—Bobby, Vivian and Linn (who’s been with us throughout) give heartfelt thanks to “Uncle” Wu and Chuck Johnson.
Barb and Nina
Big and Little Sisters
Lisa and Zoey
Some of us dress up, shedding layers we’ve been wearing to keep warm all week. Everyone’s so much smaller and thinner than I’d thought.
Teens and tweens
At the party, the teen girls sing karaoke to maroon 5, Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars. The tweens watch like anthropologists taking in gestures, attitude, style, speech and make-up in every detail. They’re learning a culture as foreign as the one they’ve experienced these last 8 days, but one more inevitable and inescapable; a culture they’re about to enter, like it or not: the world of American adolescence and young adulthood.

I’m grateful that on this trip, they’ve met inspiring and affectionate older sisters and brothers; kids who have the same complicated roots as they do and form the frontline of adopted Chinese children coming of age in America.

Robin and Sophie
And so, a few wishes for them as we end our trip and start the New Year: May they grow to maturity honoring and integrating the unique strands of influence that have made them who they are. May they love and enrich the country that adopted them. May they find strength in the families who’ve raised and cherished them. May they never forget their roots. May they (as my daughter would say) be awesome! I think they already are.

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