People ask me, "are you happy to be home?" and the answer is, I miss China and my life there and my friends. A lot. I miss the crazy, bustling streets and the little children in their grandparents' arms and watching all of the changes of a developing economy.
Although Christmas is just another working day in China, we had lots of Christmas joy and wonderful experiences. We forced students to sing the 12 Days of Christmas, Ross was Santa Claus, and we ate dumplings in an unheated school cafeteria instead of Christmas dinner and we were perfectly happy.
Of course we knew we were living in a dictatorship. But compared to the bad old days of Mao and the Cultural Revolution, China had made so much progress in terms of individual liberty. We hoped that it would continue to do so, since the benefits were apparent and obvious. But during my last year in China, I noticed a change in the atmosphere...
I am no longer able to teach in China because I'm over 60. That regulation in itself has cut off a significant number of people who would gladly work in China as a post-career adventure. The news that China is incarcerating as many as a million of its own Muslim citizens in re-education camps and stepping up the persecution of Christians will also cause more people to give China a pass. That's a big loss for all concerned and I hope the pendulum swings back to opening-up and modernization.
I wouldn't trade my time in China for anything and no matter what you hear about China, remember that the government is one thing and the amazing, kind, wonderful people of China are something else again.