I believe that we are all the same, as human beings go. We breath the same air, we love, we hate. And, we are capable of achieving our dreams, no matter our color, nationality, or creed.
I grew up in a small town in North Carolina. I was the youngest in my family, and seemingly in ever situation I found myself in. I grew up always being told that people were different: there were blacks, whites, etc. And, we were supposed to know our place. Somehow I did not altogether buy this idea. Yes, we have our differences. We are individuals. But, in our hearts we are the same, I believed.
I grew up loving to learn about far away places and people. As a teenager, I wrote to pen pals all over the world. At 22, while attending Appalachian State University, I accepted the opportunity to spend a year in China. One of the things an advising professor told me was that when I got to China I would realize that people were all the same. That grabbed my attention. She said Chinese mothers had dreams and fears for their children, too.
Once in China, I introduced myself as a new English teacher to an auditorium full of students at Northeast University. After the other teachers and I introduced ourselves, a young student, about my age, introduced herself to me. She told me how brave she thought I was to come to China alone. She said she could never do something like that. I reassured her that she could. I felt a connection.
Through out my time in China, and now that I’m back in the States, I think about this student and all the other people I met. Some were Chinese; others were from Africa. I met people from the former Soviet Union, people I had been told, as an American, were my enemy. They told me of their experiences in Afghanistan. I heard about surviving Char noble. I also met people from Japan and Poland. I shared with these people the experience of being a foreigner in a foreign land.
The experiences with these people were affirming to me that no matter who we are, as human beings, we are the same, deep down. We all have our joys and our fears. We all have our dreams. We all feel. And, yes, I saw that mothers in China, too, have their doubts about their children traveling to a foreign, distant, land known as America. This I believe.
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