Saturday, November 15, 2008

63 into 3 (From Rick)

Marco Polo, Mr. Magoo and I are traveling through China this year as part of a Fulbright family. As a 63 year old, this is the freest I’ve felt in my life. Living in Beijing with no Chinese language skills means I must relearn everything. I’m like a 3 year old toddler, an adventurer who is learning by asking questions, making mistakes, trial and error. Exploring hutongs and underground shops, navigating grocery stores, every day is an adventure. Be it the Great Wall, Temple of Heaven or Tiananmen Square, you are an outsider among a billion hard-working Chinese people. As a new “3 year old,” I’m very inquisitive. It is an adventure to try finding a post office, supermarket (underground without signs), camera repair shop or Hutong restaurant without the benefit of language, maps or Google. Sometimes you hop a cab and call the shop and hope that someone speaks English to give the driver directions. Thankfully cabs are cheap ($3-5 per trip) and subways even cheaper (2 Yuan, about 35 cents.)

If you live here you learn something new every day, just like they taught us to do at Molloy High School almost 50 years ago – “Non Scholae Sed Vitae” – not for school but for life. If someone told me 50 years ago when starting Molloy HS that I’d be living in China with a 9 and 11 year old child, and a law professor wife, I wouldn’t have believed it. Now I too am lecturing on labor arbitration, environmental mediation, tutoring law students in English, listening to Peking Opera, and attending seminars on James Joyce “Ulysses” and corporate social responsibility in China. With children here you play badminton, soccer, ping pong, ride bikes, run track, and (of course) attend PTA meetings.

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