Teacher discovers his dream in China

2020年07月03日11:42  来源:山西日报

Ray Woodard poses for a photo with his students.

I was raised on the ideal of the American dream. A house near the sea, a stable professional career and a loving family.

While this vision was somewhat attainable back home in California, there was always something missing from that image-a piece that existed centuries before my birth.

My great-grandfather left his homeland back in the 1920s, traveling from Guangzhou, China and found a life in the Philippines, marrying a woman whose ancestors also traversed from Spain to the Philippines over a century before. There, my mother was born awaiting my future father from the United States.

My father's journey from the US to my mother's homeland was rooted in the instinctual drive within the family to travel the world in search of home. After spending my childhood in the Philippines, my family returned to the US.

Yet, there was a calling within me to venture to a new land and return to the birthplace of my great-grandfather. And so, in 2011, at the age of 32, I left my life, home and career in California to find a new home in China.

With the entrepreneurial spirit and education I had gained in the States, I chose to do something for and with the young people in Taiyuan, Shanxi province. In the beginning it was a challenge.

With no formal training in Mandarin, I had to get adjusted to my new life in Taiyuan. Thankfully, there were people who welcomed me with open arms and showed me the path toward understanding with local residents and culture.

I found that the locals, both young and old, were eager to teach me about life here, to show me how to navigate the challenges of daily life and to savor the joys of living. These moments of watching the children play in the neighborhood square, the elders walking or dancing in the parks, the amazing fluidity of traffic where the motorized scooters, bicycles and cars seem to move in unison through the veins of the city have all made their way into my vision of normalcy and contentment.

But most importantly, I have come to find comfort in the daily gift of living, caring for family and cherishing students. One day while teaching a course, a phrase came into my mind-"Look at these children". And I understood that it meant to really look into their faces, their eyes, their minds and their hearts. From that moment forward, I dedicated my work to caring for these students, to laugh with them, to listen to them and most importantly to share my heart with them. When doing this daily, a new feeling which I had not felt for others aside from my family, came into being-love for others.

So now at the age of 41, I continue to live within this great city. I now have my own family including a daughter that is a bridge between this land of my mother's ancestors and the America which planted within me a dream. Not an American dream, but a dream which spans generations and nations. A dream that now takes root in Taiyuan, Shanxi, China.