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my friends > China

Unlike the others, Jie is not a student. He got out after High School and works as a labourer in the clothing industry. I met Jie on-line, and by accident, when I was looking around in some chat rooms. As all Chinese kids have English lessons starting in Kindergarten, he does understand quite a bit of English. However he doesn't speak English at all. That seems to be a general problem. The kids learn the words, spelling and some grammar, but no conversation. That doesn't start until their in college. I'm hoping I can convince him to practise with me, because he knows a lot of words, and simply needs to be coached into using them. He's been working for almost 11 years now, and school is long forgotten. But he did tell me that he wants to start to learn again. Because it was already decided that I would go to Nanchang I decided to visit him in Xiamen, it was only a 20 hour ride further south. I knew we would have some difficulties but I was confident we could solve the language problems. We did! He spoke Chinese, I spoke English, and with help of hands, feet, and my cell phone translator, we managed to survive three days quite well. Xiamen is a wonderful city, sub-tropical climate and plenty to see. The temperature was about 46°c, but amazingly comfortable. It was quite amazing that he seemed to understand me and some how I understood him. I certainly would have liked to stay longer. Living in the midst of bananas, coconuts, and almost any other sort of exotic fruit was quite an experience, and the food was awesome. Fresh fish is guaranteed, I mean they catch it at night and you get it for breakfast. Wow, I loved it. When it was time to leave, Jie carried my bag onto the train. He put it on the luggage rack and immediately started to walk out of the carriage. I followed him and stopped him on the platform. He had tears in his eyes; it was a very moving moment. I was also very emotional. We had spent three days together in an extraordinary situation. I simply cannot explain what was going on in my mind. I let him go and promised to return. I guess next time I go to China I have to stay a few weeks longer. All in all, my trip exceeded any expectations that I had.


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