Barriers Broken, Bridges Built- China 2009 | My Family Travels
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My face was tear-streaked as I faced the dreaded crossing into the security check area, not wanting to say goodbye for the last and final time. We were already backing up the line with our prolonged delay, but the continued goodbyes and hugs only made me want to stay longer. In fact, I didn’t want to leave at all. At last the line moved forward forcing me to move along. I gave Qing and Grace, my new Chinese friends, a final hug, let my hands slip out of their loving grasp, walked passed the glass barriers, and placed my things onto the security scanner. The step over the metal and glass threshold brought instantly a new wave of tears. As I made my way through, I looked back to see Grace and Qing, and managed to smile as I waved goodbye yet again. Finally, I started my journey home. The trip had been long and exhausting at times, but my despair at leaving and desire to remain in China made me realize that this trip really did have a lasting impact on my life; more so than I ever could have imagined. Any doubt I had enquired before the trip vanished gradually as I found comfort away from my life in America. Any loneliness I had felt during the trip was replaced with good times and friends who always made me laugh. Any sorrow I felt at the end of the trip was only because I felt I was being cut away from a world that I had just begun to know and love. A place filled with people and places I vowed never to forget.

I was intimidated at the beginning thought of the trip, but what I discovered when I pulled back the curtain to reveal the other side of the world was not a mixture of temples, incense, crowded streets, tai chi, or calligraphy, as one would assume. Instead, behind the curtain I saw another reality, a parallel world to my own. I was instantly consumed and captivated. Absorbed in this new and exciting reality I felt myself taking everything in, processing it, and molding it to be a part of me. The sights, the sounds, the smells, the people, of my new reality in China each added another piece of clay that was perfectly sculpted and molded to fit the permanent artwork of who I was as a person. Each piece twisted and formed me. The formation was gradual; the experience long lasting. There was no dramatic turning point, instead the significant effect was succeeding on my own. The clay pieces had stuck for good, and as the time for my departure neared, I couldn’t bare for my treasure to be ripped away.

The tears that fell and the sadness that consumed me as I left the airport in Kunming were because I feared the distance between China and America would decrease my connection between my new friends and enthralling experiences. The moment I stepped onto the plane, I envisioned the pieces that had been so artfully sculpted would fall away leaving me in a state of crumbling disrepair.  Only later did I come to the realization that the effects from my journey would never be taken away. I would never loose my experience, because only I could understand and interpret it. The sorrow I felt at the end of my trip vanished because the world I had discovered behind the curtain introduced me to so many people, places, and possibilities I could never forget them. It would be like forgetting a piece of myself.

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