How I learned to feel at home at my in-laws’ place in rural China (pub’d on


My friend and fellow blogger Gerald Zhang-Schmidt just published a guest post I wrote for his blog that I’ve titled “How I learned to feel at home at my in-laws’ place in rural China.” Here’s a snippet of the post:

One fall, after returning from a summer spent living with my in-laws in China, I took out my digital photo album to show my American friends what their home was like.

There was the kitchen in their home, with soot-stained walls from years of burning wood to fire their huge wok. There was this shot of their doorway, fringed by red couplets that faded in the sunlight as well as a random motorcycle and piles of tools, pails and rope in the corner. And then there was the foyer, with a pile of black knitted hats dumped all over the unfinished concrete flooring – the same flooring used in almost every room in their house.

I assumed my friends would be curious and even a little surprised by what they saw. But what I never expected was how stunned they were about my in-laws’ home. In their American world of sparkling granite countertops in the kitchens, tidy and uncluttered front doors, neat little garages that hid away things like motorcycles or tools, and floors covered in carpeting, tiles or wood, my in-laws home just didn’t compute. Which of course, left them with one simple question for me:

How could someone ever feel at home there?

Head on over to Gerald’s blog to read the full post. And if you love it, share it! (P.S.: Thanks to Gerald for the opportunity to share my experiences!)

3 Replies to “How I learned to feel at home at my in-laws’ place in rural China (pub’d on”

  1. lovely story, especially the last part with your father in law. You’re lucky to have in laws like that, and for being able to live in a place where there’s some nature around…and in fact, for living in an actual house – which already seems rare enough. I don’t know a single person here in China who actually lives in a house of their own.
    Also, have a Happy New Year! Looking forward to more great posts on your blog in 2015 🙂

  2. Another great post with an amazing story of kindness. Now that is that type of story that would make anyone smile! What a beautiful thing your father-in-law did for you and John!! And to say ‘This is your home.’ – a kind gesture like that would have brought tears to my eyes, too.

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