University of Wisconsin–Madison

Dinner With the Chinese Version of My Family

I met a really nice Chinese student during the Government and Politics forum our class had last semester with Beijing Foreign Studies University. Just recently she invited me to her house for lunch and to hangout, and once I was there she extended the offer to also include dinner.  We had talked before, but only very basic small talk, so I was very excited to get to know her a little more. The first question I asked was how her Chinese New Year holiday was, and she said it was good to be with all of her family back in Henan.  Then I was confused, whose house is it that we are going to now if your family is from Henan?  She explained that while her grandparents are still in Henan her father is a Colonel in the People’s Liberation Army so their family has moved around and now they are living in military quarters in Beijing. I probably scared her when I practically yelled “NO WAY!” I explained my life as an Army brat and she laughed, how funny. I followed up with asking what her mother does.  Her mom is an elementary school teacher. Are you kidding me right now??? MY MOM works in education and has been an elementary school teacher!!!! (Due to the one child policy she doesn’t have an older sister… otherwise that would have gotten crazy).

We had dumplings and grape tea for lunch, watched some Chinese dating show, then her parents came home. When her dad walked in I thought the hair is a bit too long on the top to look like a U.S. soldier, but how he walks and walks reminds me a lot of my own father. Her mom is very calm and quiet, but it was funny because if anyone needed anything or wanted to know the answer to a question, both my friend and her dad both asked the mom… much how it is in my house!  Their family has a sense of humor and during dinner made like 5 toasts to me being in Beijing and welcoming me to their home. I departed with some crackers brought back from Henan and a feeling that it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, people are people.