Our last day in China, ChunPing's Father wanted to take us to the village he grew up in. It was about 45 minutes away from the town we were staying in, and we were told it was a poor farming village. He mostly wanted to take us there because many of these people had never left the village and had never seen a white person before. So it was basically a trip to show off Mark. Good thing I married such an easy-going guy!
When we arrived in the village, the first stop we made was at an elementary school. Here's the front gate.
Here are a couple shots of the outside of the school.
Sorry it's so blurry, but here's the only pic I got of the kids in class. Can you believe how many kids are in this classroom? This is only about half the class, the rest is behind the wall.
Then the kids were given the opportunity to pose with Mark for a picture. They were all keeping a safe distance from him until one was brave enough to touch him. After that, all hell broke loose and kids swarmed him.
My camera died after visiting the school, so those are the end of my pics.
After we went to the school, ChungPing's father took us to the actual village he grew up in. It was like stepping into another world. America has its poor areas, but I've never seen poverty quite like this.
We first went to the house of some relatives of ChunPing. They lived in a small house surrounded by a fenced in yard. We never actually went into the house, as they brought out tiny stools for us to sit on in the yard. But from the outside of the house it was apparent that there was no electricity or heat. When ChungPing's sister had to use the restroom, she was directed to an outhouse. There were sheets hung over where the windows and doors should be. This is not a warm area -- it's weather is comparable to that of St. Louis with 4 seasons and snow.
After we sat at their house, ChungPing's father walked us through the rest of the village knocking on random people's doors to show off Mark. Pretty much every house looked about the same as the first. We saw children with dirty clothes and no toys.
But the thing is, these people were happy! They all seemed completely content with their lives and though they didn't have much, were pleased to see ChungPing's father and receive the cigarettes he was handing out. Actually, ChungPing's father gave his relatives some money, and they tried to refuse it several times. And then, as we were leaving, came running out with a dozen boiled eggs for us.
Kind of a wake-up call for we who have so much. It's so easy to get caught up in consumerism and the feeling that there are so many things we need. But really, seeing the contentment in these people was a strong reminder of the things we should be most grateful for this Thanksgiving.
I'll go first. Above all, I'm grateful for my loving and supportive husband, family, and friends. I'm grateful that I have been given the amazing opportunity to live in the country I was born in and to learn the language. I'm grateful that I've always had enough to eat and for a warm house.
How about you?