Spring Break

October 23, 2007
By
Spring Break. The time to party for most adolescents. Instead I went to China on a mission trip with my school. With a delegation from the Culver Academies, we spent the first week and a half at our sister school, the Shanghai Foreign Language School, as a delegation committee. My last three days in China were spent with my host family. The first week had drastically changed my view on the culture of the Chinese, but I did not anticipate the last three days of trip would affect me the most.

Walking down the limestone steps of the restaurant, I noticed a waving Chinese couple, yet still the hints of chicken covered in peanut and soy with lemon are vividly in my mouth. My host brother; family name Dai, named YunXiang, told me, “These are my parents, they are very excited to meet you.” I saw a middle sized man with tanned skin and a smaller woman with big dark eyes that gave off warmth when stared upon, both, smiling in anticipation of their foreign guest. I noticed a small black car, with shiny gloss. I knew it was a Chinese car, but when I entered the vehicle, all my predispositions about Chinese manufacturing had disappeared. The car was awesome; leather seats, nice stereo, my host father loves Fergie, and very spacious. My host mother turned and said, “系好安全带” Translating, my brother turned to me and said, “Put your seatbelt on”
Leaving the restaurant in a Chinese car, my friends from school were distancing fast. I stared out the window at the abundance of lights and the countless number of apartment complexes that dotted the skyline. Honking horns, the symphony of Shang Hai. With the windows opened, the thick smog filled my nostrils, all the while, the inaudible conversation between my host brother and parents. The parents of my host family could not speak English, but fortunately my host brother is an excellent English student. We finally slowed down and took a right into a gated apartment complex. Foreign faces staring at me, I felt as though I did not belong. We parked the car and went up what seemed like endless flights of stairs. Finally, I stepped into my new home for the next 2 days.
Their home was small and modest, but it showed me I did not need everything in life, such as big home with all the furnishings, a luxury of many in the United States. The apartment next door belongs to the father’s parents. I never thought they would live in such a close proximity. They did not have room for me in their apartment, so I slept next door, in the grandparent’s apartment. Even though the city was still bustling, I was ready for sleep.
It was my first night with my family and I adjusted easily to their humble home. As dinner was served, my senses directed to the scent of something wonderful. Hints of ginger and seafood filled the air and suddenly a whole cooked fish came from the kitchen; tail and head too. I was surprised. I had never before been presented with an entire fish. I told my host brother, “In America, the fish is usually processed and even when its not we usually cut off the head and tail.” He translated for his parents. His mom responded, “In china, we have an idea of start to finish.”

The principle of start to finish has helped me with each task that is presented to me. I am very driven to accomplish the task set before me. I start and finish my day. I set a schedule to get everything I want to accomplish finished. This principle has remained with me ever since then. I still remember the hints of ginger filling the air and seeing the whole fish.





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