“I’m going to China.” I love the responses that simple sentence elicits whenever someone asks me what I’m doing this summer. The most common response is the raised eyebrow look of surprise followed by the crooked smile and sidelong glance which seems to say, “Come on. Quit pulling my leg!” The next most common response is the, “oh, I guess you are into the Olympics huh?” Finally there is a more recent response that I hadn’t heard before: “missionary work, huh?”
Then there is the look when I tell people the real reason we are going to China, which is to visit my sister, Verna, and her family. That look is one of puzzlement. It says, “What is your sister doing in China?” The people who know my sister and I well are really surprised. You see, most people would assume that I, Greg Woods, Mr. World History Teacher, would be the one from my family to live abroad. Verna has rarely shown interest in the world outside of Henry County.
The truth of the matter is my sister’s husband, Tom, works for Dow Corning. Dow Corning is building a plant outside of Shanghai and he accepted the assignment of overseeing the safety aspects of the new plant. Considering China has very few safety regulations it seemed like a simple enough task. Anyway, the bottom line is that because of my brother-in- law’s work, I have family living in Shanghai, China for the next few years! So, I’m going to China! Who would have thought it?
This week I thought I would share some pre-trip feelings and thoughts with you. You know, feelings like; anticipation, apprehension, excitement, and downright dread of getting on a plane and flying half way around the world!
First, let’s discuss the anticipation of taking the trip of a lifetime. I can’t wait to see the vastly different culture of China. The people, the buildings, the language, the food are all things I’m looking forward to experiencing. Well, maybe not the food! Oh yes, and the anticipation of seeing our family for the first time in 10 months!
Next there is apprehension. Did I mention the food? Let’s just say that I have heard too many stories about the food to be truly excited about the prospect of eating the food. I’ll leave it at that for now. I also have read much about the pollution and overcrowding which concern me somewhat. I’m not sure I want to drink the water. Oh well let’s not focus on the possible negatives of the trip.
Let’s move on to excitement. At this point I need to introduce my fellow travelers. My wife Kelley is very excited about the trip for many reasons but, I would say, mainly because she loves my sister as if she were her own sister and cannot wait to see her after nearly a year apart. The same can be said for my daughters Libby and Alison who are 9- and 6-years old respectively. They are probably more excited to see their three cousins, Maggie, 10, Katie, 9, and Mollie, 6, than they are about any other aspect of the trip. (This might be a good point to go back to apprehension! Me, living in an apartment in China for three weeks with seven females — ugh). Anyway, I would say that Alison is the most excited simply because she is the most excitable person I know.
You see, she wakes up in the morning, rolls out of bed and gets excited just because its morning and the day has started. You can imagine how excited she is about this trip. On second thought, you probably can’t imagine it, and I’m not sure I can explain it. Suffice it to say she is extremely excited to go on this trip.
Finally there is the dread of flying for 20 hours. I say dread, not fear, because I don’t fear flying. I dread it because of what the air pressure changes do to my body and because of the inevitable jet lag. Oh well, these drawbacks are a small price to pay for the opportunity to see my family and take the trip of a lifetime.
While there are some mixed emotions about this trip, my overwhelming feeling is one of anticipation. The negative aspects pale in comparison to the opportunity to experience one of the oldest and grandest civilizations in the world.
I hope to share my China experience with you over the following weeks. Wish me luck...