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“Do children in China also think that if they dig a hole in the ground, it can go all the way to America?” I could not help smiling when a little girl asked me this question during my first presentation. I was startled by the fact that people in America have so much imagination about China. Wondering whether I should bring up the issue of southern China architecture and landscaping, I had been preparing anxiously for the third presentation about China, this time for the high school.
Several days later, I found myself explaining how a Chinese keyboard works, analyzing the importance of the architectural configuration in ancient dynasties, drawing a map to show the locations of Shangri-la and the Great Wall, demonstrating my art skills, and even singing a piece of Beijing Opera without painting my face.
Mr. Cute, whose class I joined and shared my experience with, happened to be the moderator of the town meeting that I attended as an observer. “Let us welcome Ling, as a student ambassador, who has brought a great deal of delight and knowledge to our town of Rehoboth!” He said. Never before have so many people clapped for me. I stood up, turned around and smiled with happiness and pride.
Minutes later, I sat down with all the memories going through my head.
Waving goodbye to my last companion, I headed towards my flight. Suddenly I couldn’t help looking back at him; I saw his back, thin but straight, and his two big suitcases dragging along quietly. I turned around breathing deeply. I knew I looked just like him, with faith in myself, going on my own journey. I was alone; to be an adult is to be alone.
Yet I was not alone. At first, it was hard indeed for me, a newcomer, to join the chat at the lunch table. Though I was not surprised to realize, two months later, that the lunch table is no longer formidable, nor are the conversations baffling. I wrote in my diary, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
Dressed up nicely, I performed in front of my judge and audiences during a speech meet. I was nervous. I always believe, however, the way to develop self-confidence is to do the things I fear; it is a matter of choice that is not to be waited for, but to be achieved. I knew I had a Chinese accent; I still do, but I am not afraid of speaking in front of people anymore.
Flashbacks ended; then I realized my year in the United States had changed me into a courageous, well-liked and confident person. I was also surprised and yet delighted to see that I had exerted a good influence on this small town and the people around me.
I have been a hole-digger.
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