What a busy time. I know I haven't written a post for a few months now apart from a bit of poetry here and there. Some really incredible things have happened lately which I'd like to share with you. I was struggling so much with keeping up with this big house and also study and work that I decided to advertise on HelpX for someone to stay here with me and assist me with everything from housework to research for my next Uni assignment in exchange for free accommodation and food. I was so sure no-one would respond as there are a lot of places around here that have placed ads on that website so I didn't even bother adding photos or a description of myself and the house. You can imagine how surprised I was a couple of days later to get a response from a boy who lives in China. I know Chinese people here in my town and my experience is that they are very peaceful and respectful people that make good friends.
Last Thursday night Chunnian landed on my doorstep. I knew we would get along immediately when I showed him to his room and he said, "it's pretty nice." Over the course of the next few hours I was able to introduce him to a jam biscuit which was "pretty delicious" and promite (English vegemite) which was "pretty strange!" But back to the beginning. This boy is the first one in his family to travel overseas and at that point I was the only person he knew in Australia. I was going to call this post The Brave boy or The Wise boy or Lonely Boy or Lost Boy in an effort to explain all of the mixed up emotions I had for him when he first arrived but while he is definitely brave and wise, I've found the other two words don't actually do him justice. If that was me going to a new country where I didn't know anyone I would be terrified to say the least. In fact, I don't think I could do it. I could have been anyone and it could have been a dangerous situation for him but he survives by his wits.
Chunnian is also a Uni student and he shares my love of books and movies. Imagine my delight when he volunteered to learn everything about my culture so I was able to recommend beloved books from my bookcase and DVD's from my home collection to completely immerse him in our culture. I know I may sound like a crazy Christian Colonialist but the truth is that we do have a wonderful history - the Kings and Queens, Princes and Princesses, Prime Ministers and Presidents, the authors and poets and all of the movies based on their lives and the fiction they have created. Not to mention the battles and wars and other historical moments that define us as a race of people here in Australian and also Britain and the USA. In exchange, I'm learning so much about China and it's history. We've both had to admit that as nations our countries have made grave errors in the past and recently but we are both pretty proud of where we come from and patriotic although eager to learn about other countries as well.
Chunnian in Chinese means Spring and his sister's name means 'good news.' I have to admit, there have been times when I've responded with "mmmmhmmm" because the meaning of what he is trying to say has gotten lost in translation but overall the conversation is fluid, seamless and even organic. It's very serendipitous that he arrived on my doorstep since I have adored the Chinese culture and been studying it for some time: I like Chinese medicine, astrology, Taoisms, the food and the language fascinates me. If I was younger and could retain information I would learn the language for sure. As it is I'm used to the Chinese accent and can interpret it easily.
I had no idea but in China there are advertisements and songs about Melbourne which paint this City as one of the best in the world and a kind of paradise. I suppose it is really. I just take it for granted. Like a lot of other Chinese people he is sent to the "lucky country" not only to improve the position of his family but also of the country. They see education as everything and learning is of paramount importance. This is their way of betterment. Chunnian dreams of having a Western wife one day and his ultimate dream is to own some land, probably here in Australia, and have an orchard and cats. But right now, his immediate dream is to attend Melbourne Uni for his engineering degree so that he can build a rocket and travel to where the stars are and I don't see anything holding him back.
I'd like to share this poem with you that Chunnian wrote out for me. Most important of all is that it's originally written in Ancient Chinese which even the Chinese have trouble understanding. I was so chuffed that he was able to translate it into English for me. In bygone days husbands would only get to see their wives one day per year - at the Spring Festival - and the rest of the year they would be away earning income to support their wives and children. This poem is about the feelings of missing each other and yearning for the reunion. After reading this I began to understand where romance and poetry in our Western world stems from :)