Saturday, January 21, 2012


中國歡迎您 "Welcome to China." That was what we kept hearing over and over again. Were we in China? No, but China had come to us in the form of 30 Chinese government officials - at our house for dinner. It all began that summer when my dad had been chosen to be part of a government education exchange program (sponsored by the University of Georgia), where representatives from the US traveled to China for two weeks to teach Chinese officials about US government. Now, nearly six months later, Chinese officials were returning the favor with a visit to the US. When my dad heard they were coming, one of the first things he did was invite them to our house for dinner. My mother graciously agreed to cook for the 30 foreign guests (and you will be glad to know she did not cook dog or donkey, two Chinese delicacies).

The night of their visit, as we all worked together to prepare for their arrival, little did we know what was in store.

"They're here, they're here," someone called, and we all scrambled frantically to put the last touches on the house and tables and assemble in the foyer to greet them. As the Chinese delegation crowded into our house, some even going up the stairs in their efforts to find a place to stand, it was an out-of-body experience, being surrounded by smiling, eager Chinese faces all laughing and talking rapidly in Chinese. My dad introduced our family and welcomed them to our home (all of which was interpreted by Jong Fei), and then to our surprise, they began presenting us with gifts and showers of welcome and thanks and expressions of what a great honor it was to be in our home. I felt like I was in a movie - it was so surreal and magical.

The entire evening it was the same story. They told us over and over again in broken English or with an interpreter, sometimes with tears in their eyes, how much this meant to them, what a great honor it was to be in our home. They were constantly smiling, laughing, and trying to communicate with us through broken English, gestures, or one of their comrades who spoke better English than they. And amazingly, we DID communicate - heart to heart. I have never met such open, friendly, loving people. Although they were in our home, in the United States, they kept saying over and over, "Welcome to China." They told us about their families, asked us all kinds of questions about our family and lives, taught us Chinese words, played games with the little ones, and all in all, in a few short hours managed to capture our hearts forever.

I showed one lady how to do Zumba.

I played the piano for them and they sang for me.

When it was time to say "goodbye," many had tears in their eyes, begged us to come to China, and said they would never forget us. We will never forget them either.

It is impossible to describe what that evening was like. Nothing could have prepared us for how special and unforgettable it would be. They came for dinner but left with our hearts.


busymomof10 said...

Beautifully captured! I love the way you said, They came for dinner and left with our hearts!! So true!!

Singing Pilgrim said...

Sounds like an amazing experience, Tiffany!