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Never before had I realized our profound indulgence in excess. Within the palm of our hands we hold endless opportunity yet are infinitely confined to the comfort our lives and foolishly fear change. Cruising amidst Beijing’s greyish clouds we embarked on a journey to shift our perspectives, thousands of feet high at cruising altitude, unbeknownst to the turbulent yet promising future ahead of us. As we soared, and soared and soared, I felt the sun’s grace beaming upon us, pledging to give us new youth in order for us to grow on this journey.

After landing in Chengdu, we rode in 2 modest 4-wheel, beige, Twinkie-like vans to Lin-Shi Village. My eyes were locked staring outside the window surveying the drastic change in landscape from domineering glass structures in the big bustling city to the meek bamboo homes of the village. Almost immediately upon arrival the warmth of the rural community overcame us. We were greeted by enthusiastic adults and sweet small children fascinated by foreigners. That sense of tenderness in the community was further exemplified just a few hours later when we accompanied our host sister to pick up her daughter 小雅from the nearby elementary school. As soon as her mother arrived, 小雅 ran into her mother’s arms with the grandest, most joyous smile, that could light up even the darkest of caves. After we indulged in sweet, nectarous Chinese snacks, we headed back home for dinner where we continued to stuff ourselves with food. I opened myself up to trying new foods and was introduced to the best of Sichuan cuisine. The great hospitality of our host family was illustrated by their reluctance to let us help clean up dishes although we still managed to convince them to do otherwise. Even the methods of cleaning in China contrasted those in America. Our host family used a sort of sand-like substance to collect the grime in our bowls and doused the bowls in hot water. As steam rose and fogged my glasses, I was transported to a state of serene and peaceful pleasure as I began to remove myself from my lifestyle in the grandiose city.

There was something soothing about the long late night walk down the vast village roads in Lin-Shi. Pollution making it impossible to see the stars was the only trait Lin-Shi had in common with New York. The lack of stars forced the community to look inward and value their experiences with one another. While I often wondered if my 姐姐or 阿姨 yearned to explore the vast wonders of the worlds, at the town square I saw a unique bond among the villagers that was hard to find in New York. While the villagers were enamored by the presence of foreigners, I was just as captivated by the warmth of the community, welcoming us into their lives.

As I got ready to hop back into our vans to journey back into the city life in Chengdu I carried with me newfound aspirations to bring Lin-Shi’s everlasting warmth to all my new journeys in life.