1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Two Worlds under One Roof

April, 2006
Leave a comment 6069 views

  It was about half past ten on New Year’s Eve, Morgen Chang sat on the sofa with her new family in Beijing, chatting and watching TV. The cat 17p16-Morgen-10 had already fallen asleep on her lap.

  “I’m used to being in bed around 10 o’clock every evening,” said the 17-year-old. “I want to stay up late and watch TV with my family, although I can only understand the programmes ‘Ma Ma Hu Hu’(马马虎虎, so so).”

  “You should say ‘Ma Ma Xu Xu’(马马虚虚, the same meaning, but more colloquial), which sounds more Chinese these days,” retorted the father, as everyone burst out laughing.

  This evening is the first authentic Chinese New Year the American girl has ever had. Her new mother and father were prepared food together in the kitchen, Morgen helped Grandma arrange flowers, while her new little sister, Zhu Shiyi, wandered around the room supervising.

  During dinner, Morgen was treated to grape wine for the first time.

   “You are just seventeen, this is illegal in the States, so just take it as juice that helps you sleep,” advised the father.

  The table was brimming with Chinese dishes, of which Morgen enjoyed every morsel.IMG_7793

  “My dad in the US likes to cook these kinds of dishes too,” she said. “Hawaii is quite Asian.”.

  Morgen admitted that not everyone in her class is accustomed to Chinese food, and still “live on McDonald’s.”

  “My only bad memory of Chinese food was being served freshly cooked pork, where the pig was killed right before our eyes, when we were touring Guizhou last year. But I know it was the local tradition to express welcome.”

  It has been almost six months since Morgen entered into this Chinese family and started her School Year Abroad (SYA) at the No 2 Middle School of Beijing Normal University.

  Beginning in 1994, the SYA programme was the first high school or college programme in China with government permission to place foreign students in Chinese host families for an entire academic year. The homestay is the heart of the SYA programme in Beijing, which gives students the opportunity to experience the rhythms of Chinese life in a way few foreigners are able to do.

  “When I applied for the SYA programme in China, I said that I wanted to have a Chinese ‘sister’ of the same age, that is Shiyi.” 

  The teenager still remembers the first day she met the family at the Capital Airport.

  “It was August 26, 2005 when I arrived, they were one hour late and I cried. When they came, they treated me so well that I felt I was home again,” Morgen recalled.IMG_7757

  Today, the two girls have become sisters under the same roof, schoolmates on campus, and teammates when studying together.

  Shiyi is just a few months younger than Morgen, and every morning, they like to ride their bicycles to school together, and usually watch TV together in the evenings. But most of all, they both like to dance.

  Morgen used to study ballet, and Shiyi has also had ballet and Chinese dance training. Nowadays, Morgen continues to practice at the Beijing Dance Academy while Shiyi takes a dance course at school.

  “When we are at home, Shiyi sometimes teaches me a few Chinese dance moves and popular Chinese songs,” Morgen said.

  Both girls agreed they have improved their own studies through this kind of life, although Morgen still wants to play before finishing her homework, while Shiyi, like most Chinese children, tries to finish her homework first.

  Shiyi remembers how Morgen once helped her polish her report on how cultural differences between the East and West were reflected in movies, which earned her the highest mark in class. Morgen attributed her successful Chinese speech, made last November, to Shiyi’s proofreading.

  “Obviously, we are a great match,” beamed Shiyi.17p16-Morgen-7

  For the Chinese girl, the biggest change to her life is that she now has a sister.

“Being the only child in the family, I never had the feeling of having a sibling before,” she said. “Now I feel I am not alone anymore, I will learn to think of others instead of just me.”

  Regardless of the fact that Shiyi went to Los Angeles for a 3-week education programme in 2003 - where she was also looked after by a family - this family was unsure how to deal with a girl from the US.

  “It was a wonderful experience for our daughter and she still keeps in contact with that family,” said Shiyi’s mother, Gao Jie. “This was part of the reason why we applied to host Morgen, these girls are a gift to me, what’s more, Morgen is such a good sister for Shiyi.”

  Gao Jie feels very responsible for Morgen .

  Morgen drinks milk every day, so Gao tries to buy some for her no matter how late she comes home from work. She also feels that having Morgan around has improved her relationship with her daughter.

  “As I work at the Central Conservatory of Music, and often come back late, most of the conversations between Shiyi and I were in my car on the way to school or out shopping.” But they talk a lot more since Morgen’s arrival.

  “Also, I often used to quarrel with Shiyi, but things are getting much better now,” the busy mother admitted. IMG_7814

  Last Christmas eve, Gao took the girls to a dance party and they turned a plant in the home into a Christmas tree.

  During the Spring Festival, they visited the new Capital Museum, went to some temple fairs and took Morgen to see ice lanterns and sculptures outside Beijing.

  Among all the places she has visited in Beijing, Morgen likes the hutongs the most.

  “There are many temples here, but I love the hutongs best. I love to ride my bicycle through the hutongs, seeing the residents chatting or reading in front of their courtyards,” she admitted.

  As for her hopes in the New Year, Morgen said she plans to visit more places in China and “use every minute to learn Chinese”.

  “That’s why I am here, and I love it here,” she said.

By Xing Yangjian

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google Bookmarks
  • E-mail this story to a friend!
  • LinkedIn
  • Live
  • MSN Reporter
  • MySpace
  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • Yahoo! Bookmarks
  • Yahoo! Buzz

admin Feature

Related Articles

  • No Related Post
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.