Archive for May, 2009

Good-byes Have Begun…

Living overseas really helps you understand ‘bitter-sweet’.  We have begun our ‘healthy good-byes’.  More pictures here ( Today we got to reconnect with our dear friend Neo who now lives in Guangzhou.  More to come…

– Dan

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Summer Book Recommendations

Travel to East Asia this summer through two GREAT books!  I heartily recommend both – they are well written, extremely interesting and thought provoking looks at two countries we Americans must understand better in the coming years.

The first is Three Cups of Tea:

The book is an autobiographical look at the work of climber Greg Morteson.  After being rescued from K2 in the Himalaya Mountains by a local porter, Morteson is captivated by the beauty and stunned by the poverty of the local people in these nearly inaccesible regions of northern Pakistan.  He returns year after year to build schools for the boys AND girls of these villages.  The second half of the book is largely devoted to an understanding of the extreme elements of Islam, and how they gained and are still gaining such a strong control over this vital part of the world.  Inspiring and sobering!!  Thanks to my brother for lending it to me!

The second book is China Road:

Written by long time NPR China correspondent Rob Gifford, China Road comes the closest to explaining the China I’ve come to know and love these past three years than any other book on China I’ve ever read (and that is saying alot).  It is extremely readable and well-written.  The contrasts we experience every day – glittering 5 star hotels next to migrant shanties – the fastest train in the world passing a mule lugging a coal cart – Tibetan monks on rickety bikes talking on cell phones.  The list of contrasts is endless, and Gifford does an amazing job telling the modern China story.  China is and will continue to be a major world power.  The Chinese are learning everything they can about the West – we can only benefit from learning as much as we can about the amazing country of China!  Thanks to Lori Joyce for leaving me this book after their wonderful visit last summer!

Enjoy your summer reading!

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Where I’m From …

As we continue to prepare the kids for their upcoming transition, we’ve been able to use some great tools provided by various organizations that serve the TCK (third culture kid) community.  One of them is a mad lib style poem entitled “Where I’m From”.  Children are encouraged to reflect on the people and places and things that impacted who they and who they are becoming.  Over the next several weeks, we will share the poems the kids put together.  The model is quite simple, and a good reflection exercise for everyone, even if you never left your home of origin.   Give it a try!

“Where I’m From”

I am from __(specific ordinary item) from __(product name) and ______ (another product)

I am from the __(home description)___. (adjective, adjective; sensory detail.)

I am from the __(plant, flower, natural item)___, the __(plant, flower, natural item)___ (description of the natural item).

I’m from ___(family tradition)___ and ___(family trait)___, from ___(name of family member)___ and ___(another name).

I’m from the ___(description of family tendency)__ and __(another one)___,

From ___(something you were told as a child) and __(another)__.

I’m from __(representation of religion -or lack of it) (further description)

I’m from ___(place of birth and family ancestry), ___(two food items representing your family)___.

From the ____(family story about a specific person and a detail) the ___(another detail of another family member)___.

I am from ________ (Location of family pictures, momentos, archives, and several more lines indicating their worth).

For today, here is mine:

“Where I’m From”

I am from umbrellas, from Ukrops and unwanted fish sticks.

I am from the middle class suburbs. (Conservative, comfortable, cautious.)

I am from the dogwood, the forsythia

Whose bright yellow blooms always took Nanna by surprise.

I’m from Dot’s cakes and Thalhimers’ sales, from Molly and June.

I’m from ‘Times Dispatch’ readers and ‘Annie’s Song’ defenders,

From ‘I hope you have children just like you’ and ‘my sweet Sadie beach’.

I’m from vacation Bible school and Sunday school and Christian school and seven more years of state schools to figure out what it all meant.

I’m from Richmond, Atlanta and Wales, imitation crab over rice, donuts on Sundays and cheese toast.

From the brother lost to the rain,

From grandparents who fell in love while dancing with gypsies.

I am from shoe boxes of photos with thumbs in the corner, missing baby books with crumbling candles, attics and storage units and closets too full to close – a much beloved branch of a masterfully pruned family tree.

Sara Kennedy May 2009

Grant Family photo 2006

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Meet our Chinese God-daughter, Xuan Xuan!

There are few privileges granted to a person greater than being asked to be their child’s God parent. We met Wei Wei and her husband Jia Bo shortly after arriving in China 3 years ago, even before they were married. We were honored to attend their wedding (another first for us – the Chinese go big on weddings!). And now, we are entrusted with lifting up their absolutely beautiful daughter Xuan Xuan to our Father throughout her life.

– Dan

Top to bottom:  Wei Wei, Xuan Xuan & Jia Bo // Noah, Xuan Xuan & Sara // Xuan Xuan & Me

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