Wednesday, June 2, 2010
"Everyone smiles in the same language" - Anonymous
How true is that? Its really interesting to consider the little things that tie us all together.. although our cultures are different, or we speak different languages, there are basic gestures, like a smile, and basic emotions, like love, that transcend these differences and reveal one solid fact that we most definitely have in common - we are all human, and mostly, when it comes down to it, we all want the same things - family, love, health, happiness, etc. I remember sitting on the subway (okay, who sits on the subway in China?! I was standing), watching some local girls interact with each other and I forget exactly what it was, but I remember commenting to my husband that all over the world, girls are girls - we are all the same! Hopefully you guys have observed that and someone out there knows what I am trying to say. It was like watching me and my own girl friends. We are all just girls (unless you're not... lol! I know I have a few male readers;))
Which brings me back to the reason for this post - how wonderful a smile can make you feel, and how something like a smile transcends cultural differences and language barriers, connecting people. Last week, a complete stranger gave me the biggest, most genuine smile ever and it completely made my day. From what I've noticed and as my teachers have told me, the Chinese culture isn't really one that smiles randomly at complete strangers. If you make eye contact with someone in the subway or are standing in the same elevator, even - no smiles are exchanged, most of the time, no greetings at all, no acknowledgment.
I got off the subway and was going up the escalator along with the rest of the crowd, when I saw a flash of white... could it be? Really? Is that what I think it is?! A little old Chinese man stood next to the escalator collecting old newspapers people were discarding. He looked right at me and gave me the biggest smile! I barely recognized it for what it was - a smile! From a complete stranger. In Beijing!! I was shocked! It completely turned my day around. My husband was laughing at our exchange of smiles because we both had no idea why he was smiling so big for me.. this cute, little old Chinese man.
The funny thing is - this man is there, in the same spot, every day at the time I get off my subway on the way to class. Because there are so many people, my husband and I sometimes get separated, and he was able to see the man catch a glance of me, and a huge slow smile spread across his face. Its one of the nicest, most genuine smiles I have ever seen and makes me feel like I am welcome in his country.
Everyday I look forward to seeing his warm smile and indication of friendship and welcome. We now exchange smiles and 你好 Ni Haos and 早安 Zaoans (Hello, & good morning!) I don't know what it is about me that makes him smile but he makes ME smile every time I see him!
so, go out and smile at a stranger today! It could make their day (or they might think you are a total weirdo, but take that chance mmkay? ;)) Has anyone ever smiled at you and it completely turned your day around?
We have some really great travel plans coming up! A peak at our travel itineraries:
June: touring the North East of China
July: going to Inner Mongolia & Mongolia - supposed to be one of the best trips you can take!
August: taking a very long, very far train ride to Xinjiang - this is going to be one amazing trip!
The second week of July we are camping overnight at an unrestored (non-touristy) part of the Great Wall.
I'm so excited! As it is right now, we have at least a 10 day trip planned for every month we are here in China. I am going to be exhausted by the time this year is up!
And a few recent pictures to balance out the crazy amount of text... yes I just found "effects."