“Why would you want to go to China?”
I didn’t come to that pioneer museum in America’s West to lay my own future out before the public, like the covered wagons, shotguns and washboards on display. But all of a sudden, this elderly woman started talking to me, and couldn’t help notice that my Chinese husband didn’t look or speak like an American. So then came the questions about where he was from — and, of course, where we would live after he finished his work in the US.
I said that China’s developing economy meant extraordinary opportunities for his career, as well as mine. I told her I had lived there before, and enjoyed it. But when she continued to give me a puzzled look, I couldn’t shake the feeling that her words were some kind of veiled suggestion — that going to China was a bad idea. When I left, how I wished I had shot the question back at her and her own home state. (Why would you want to live in Pennsylvania?)
I know my choice isn’t for everyone. Sometimes, it’s better to stay in your home country, or even your hometown. But the very mention of China made that simple conversation in the museum feel anything but simple to me.
But maybe that’s not because she disliked China, or was a curious busybody. Maybe, in fact, we had two different questions in mind all along. While she wanted to know why I would go to China, I thought of it more like this: why not go to China? 😉
Have people ever questioned you about going to China?