Getting back to the roots
For two years, freshman Selah Walker and her family served as foreign missionaries in the city of Wuhan, Hubei, located in central China. Initially, Walker’s family had moved to China because her mother thought it would be a fascinating experience for the whole family, given that she grew up living abroad with her parents during their military service.
“My mom grew up moving around the world because she was a military brat and she lived for a year in Hong Kong and a year in Taiwan, so she’s always had a passion for Asian culture and living abroad,” Walker said. “We had helped orphanages before and adopted my sister from China, and so she really thought it would be a great experience for us to live in a different culture.”
While living in China, Walker attended a public school with her adopted sister and noticed differences in the education system compared to that of the United States. Walker says that in China, students are expected to simply memorize the answer to a question instead of fully understanding the process of how to deduce the solution.
“The big difference is that in China, everything is memorized. You don’t understand what you are learning, you just know how to get the answer. In America, we ask word problems in our math and you actually have to think and understand and process to get to point A and point B. In China, it’s just: here’s the question, here’s the answer, and memorize it, know how to answer the question correctly and not really understand it,” Walker said.
For Walker, even the everyday grocery shopping experience was foreign. While her school was only a short walking distance away from her apartment, buying groceries was often a process that took the entire day because her family lived in the outskirts of the city. Things taken for granted in America such as cable television and even plain bread were often restricted or hard to come by.
“Everything was really close, but on a day to day basis, going grocery shopping on the weekends, it would be a whole day routine. Here, you just jump in your car and drive to the nearest shopping center and just buy whatever you want. But in China, you would have to get on a bus, which is about a two hour drive, you have to go to the mall, you have to walk around there for hours just finding everything we need, we carry it with us, then we have to take a taxi home because you can’t get all the stuff you want on the bus,” Walker said. “Even shopping, you couldn’t find normal bread – everything was sweet, and we had to find milk and cheese and things we were used to at one specific store, so it was really difficult.”
Although Walker’s family originally planned to stay for at least five years, her uncle’s health began to deteriorate, causing an early return to the United States. With her uncle’s deteriorating health in mind, the Walkers decided that it would be best to make the move back to Fresno and only recently moved to Walnut.
“[My stay in China] made me appreciate being an American citizen, [and] it really opened my eyes to a lot of things. I still love the Chinese culture, and I want to go back there. I visited before I moved there and when I visited, I saw China in a different way, through a foreigner’s eyes on vacation. When I lived there, I learned so much more about the culture. I really got a taste and feel for how the people live and what it’s all about. It was a totally different feeling, so seeing it from two different perspectives really changed how I think of about different cultures,” Walker said.
By Austin Lam, Staff writer