2007: Destination Guangzhou - My Family Travels
GZ_07_A

My most moving travel experience so far has been my 2007 visit to Guangzhou, China, where I had a reunion with my mother Nilofar and my brother Zain. Before that I had not seen them for four years, more than a quarter of my life at the time. I had to content myself with talking to them over the Internet. Often I had to force myself to forget they ever existed just so I could continue my life as normal. Once we were reunited, though, I was overtaken by a euphoric deluge. All those years I had to endure separation and now I could enjoy existence, however temporarily, alongside my loving mother and one-in-a-billion brother.  

 
I often tagged along with Zain on his frequent trips to parties and nightclubs. He was, and still is, a freelance DJ, so I got to see a lot of the nightlife in Guangzhou. We went to clubs like The Cellar, ate at restaurants like the Bellagio, and met other DJs who were friends of Zain’s like Samir Kerris. I found that there was an extensive French community in Guangzhou, large enough that I heard Zain speaking the language on a daily basis. It seemed to be proof that you never can predict what you’ll learn in your travels.
 
I also visited the school where my mother taught English. It was engaging to witness this in action, another style of education. The school serviced children scarcely out of toddler years as well as elementary school-aged kids and pre-teens. They were all mandated to wear uniforms during school hours. This gave me a great deal of perspective on the more individualistic American public school system. I realized that my personality and psyche would have turned out completely differently if I was schooled in the Chinese fashion.
 
When it came time for me to go back to Atlanta, I began to realize what I would take away from this experience. Two months away from home gave me a much-needed break from the routine of sleep, school, and summer. I also got a snapshot of the nightlife in Guangzhou, watched my mother spread the English language, ate fried octopus on a stick, and saw my brother turn tables in a dozen different nightclubs. None of these things would have happened if I stayed in Atlanta all that summer. But above all the part of the trip that I valued the most was seeing Nilofar and Zain again after so much time needlessly torn apart. Nothing in my life so far has paralleled the moment when I walked out of customs in the Guangzhou airport, only to be greeted swiftly by two familiar embraces.  

 

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