We are a bit of an attraction here in Feicheng, because they rarely get international visitors, especially those from America. People giggle and point at us, then get embarrassed when we notice them. We smile, say hello, and attempt in very bad Chinese to communicate. Frequently, the teens and children come to us to talk; all of the children take English in school, and some speak moderately well.
This girl approached me in the park, talked a little bit, and asked to take a picture with me. After we posed for her mother’s cell phone, I asked if I could take her picture.
I think she is beautiful.
A high school senior sitting in my writing workshop asked me today if teenagers in the United States are very different from teenagers in China. She represented most of the Chinese teachers and students I’ve talked with when she said, “I think American teenagers are free and do not feel stress.” I explained that most teenagers in my country work hard to get good grades and to perform well in extracurricular activities in order to get scholarships because college is absurdly expensive. There are some teenagers who are lazy; however, their future opportunities are limited.
I was taking pictures of the people shopping in the streets last week when I heard these boys shouting that they wanted me to take their picture. When I look at this image, I see teens who could live anywhere in the United States.
We are more alike than different.
Feicheng after dinner, when the people leave their televisions and join their friends in the park to dance, play games, watch movies, or just share the day.
I’m training teachers in Feicheng City, in the Shandong Province, China. Although it’s a small city of nearly a million people, it has a small-town feel, which I love.