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I'm proud of myself

My journey to China has been a deepening into paradox. Attaining a level of comfort with the total unknown. Feeling that any decision is dramatically wrong, or potentially awesome, simultaneously, is a state to which I have had to completely surrender.

And let me be clear...I'm not being poetic. I think this experience could really break someone who was not willing to bend. I have felt the surface cracking many a time and had to just yield, and it's all turned out fine, so far.

 I will admit, the day a Chinese woman asked me if I was Chinese was gratifying.

So, as I reflect on how I find myself here in China and how it is both so absurd and wonderful all at the same time, I vacillate between feeling that I have lost so much (leaving behind my friends and family, the equity I have put into various career endeavors..singing and teaching voice, and working as a finance professor and researcher) and gained more than I could have ever imagined and have yet to discover.

I’m reminded of the favorite line of a favorite prayer I discovered when my father died, “…an horizon is nothing save the limit of my sight.” (William Penn. I’m told it’s a favorite line to many…) 

And indeed, the horizon I constructed in my mind called My Likely Experiences in China have been almost nothing like reality. And for that, I’m grateful. It has been much more difficult and much more enriching than what the limit of my sight allowed.

Which brings me to where I am now. Almost 9 months. A fitting gestation period worthy of birthing a semblance of a real life here. I am now a Montessori teacher, or at the very least, embarking on my journey to becoming one.

The photo pictured here is me, during my first few days of student teaching at that tiny Montessori school I’ve been talking about. Yes. I now work there. In true Milena fashion, I hound people until they employ me. And in true Milena fashion, I am literally not okay unless I am pursuing some endeavor for which I feel totally unfit and can agonize over constantly. *grins*

This picture is not just a cute scene of me smiling at some kids at a table. For me, it is a moment of triumph. That is me, seated, humbled, as a foreigner, being allowed to work intimately with the future of humanity.

So, I am engaging in the best way I know how with these five beautiful children (there are 12 in the whole class, including Milan), letting them touch my weird hair, and matching their amusement over how I’d never encountered a 豆沙包 before.

Duo sha bao, duo sha bao!!! They cried out…and anyone who has had a small group of enthusiastic children try to tell them something simultaneously will know the joyous bell-ringing of sounds that renders diction incomprehensible and the moment a pure delight, frothing into bubbly laughter.


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