Chinese? English? Spanish? Music? Love?
Beeeeep…. Time out and all wrong ;)
Here I am, at the cafeteria, hundreds of students around, it is lunch break and my first real and total immersion in China. I am hungry, I don’t understand any of the signs. Ok… My turn, deep breathing, what on earth am I going to order? And how? My hands are talking like an Italian, my face makes weird expressions trying to explain that I would just eat anything!
Everyone surprisingly smiles. So I smile back…
I got noodles that day, and noodles for the next 11 days… But I got connection, a unique one. Because this is what the number one language in the world is, understood by anyone on earth and aliens on Mars: THE smile.
The university hosts 38,500 students, there is this special energy that I would not be able to describe into words. You know, the kind of emotion when you feel the world is in a full-throttle move and you are lucky and grateful to be part of it.
China is a fascinating country, not only by its culture, history, landmarks, but above all, by its people and this amazing youth who is ready to experience life like no other generations has before.
I have interviewed students and will remember the face of each every day.
My interview style is pretty different. I don’t ask the usual questions. But in reality, this is how I got the most of them, their true personalities, heart, sparks in the eyes, dreams….
To the question: “if you were a super hero, what super power would you have?”. You would think “wings to fly”, “be invisible”, “see miles away”. Nope… the big majority would end poverty in the world, stop natural disasters, bring water and food where there is none, carry families to a better place, make their grandparents live longer…
“Lady Gaga or Beyonce, Justin Bieber or Usher?”. “Michael Jackson!” “What is your preferred song of Michael?”. “Heal the world”
“Who is the most inspiring celebrity?” “Steve Jobs” “why?” “He stood up for his ideas”
“If you had a plane ticket in your pocket, where would you go – should not be the USA”. “France”. Good answer, ALL approved!!! ;)
I did not unfortunately have the chance to see the Great Wall during my trip, but I have to tell you, I got so much more than that. I got smiles from China…
I cannot wait to have them all starting their program, ask for their first impressions, follow their stories throughout the weeks and years because I am confident that each of them will become one day, their own way, the Michael, Steve and Super hero they aspire to be.