A Chinese High School Student Lives alone in Kansas

July 11, 2011

This is her encounter with the strange exclusive worlds of American High School and Evangelical Christianity

I enter the VIP room at my language school and see a very gifted but shy students staring back at me. She asked me where I was from and I said America and she said where in America and I said Missouri. She says, “Really! I lived in Kansas last year.”

I said, “Kansas? Why the hell would you live in Kansas?”

So the story goes her mom traveled with her to Kansas and then after a short stay returned back to China.

Reality: this 16 year old girl sitting across from me lived alone in her own place for a year in Kansas (for privacy reasons I won’t disclose the location). She giggled as she said that she knew it was illegal. She also said that she was very careful not to tell anyone. I joked with her that this would never happen in Missouri! She smiled. Kansas come on? Really, don’t you know when there’s a 16 year old Chinese girl living alone in one of the sparsest and whitest states in America? Get your shit together Kansas (I’m from Missouri).

She says, “there’s no people in Kansas.” I say, “Nope, I don’t call em’ people either.” (for the record I didn’t really say that and from here on I’ll try and refrain from putting down Kansas)

From a private Christian High school in Kansas

I’m a shy girl.

I don’t fit in.

The people were friendly but they weren’t really friendly if you know what I mean. They would be polite but not really your friend. For a year nobody really talked to me. I felt alone. I hated feeling alone. I felt that we had nothing in common.

People there seemed closed minded.

I know that I’m a boring person. (to counter what she said about herself, I talked with her for an hour and came away thrilled by her experiences and stories. She’s a very brave young lady in my mind).

My friend invited me to Church. I went to church every Sunday with her and listened to the man speak. Always telling me about heaven and hell. And my friend was always pressuring me to believe. It made me feel bad for myself and my family back in China.

I’m okay now but I was really messed up for a few months. I feel if I become a Christian that I will always have to tell my family about it and that will be annoying to them. I don’t want to be annoying to my family.

I didn’t think I would miss China but I did. I missed home! (I told her about another girl from Kansas missing home – There’s no place like . . . )

She actually said that she liked Mexican food I was happy about that.

The lesson for that day had us talking about education so I was asking about her comparative experiences with Chinese and American high school. And of course she said American high school is really easy, you don’t have to do homework every night in every subject and you get to go home at 3:00pm (it’s common for high schools in China to go into the night). But she said that she felt like she still learned despite not be being loaded down with homework (a compliment to western education).

Did you try and play any sports I asked her. She said she tried to play tennis but they already had their group (team) and the other girls were more powerful and better than her. It was my first time to play. I am no good. I have no power.

I asked her about any significant teachers either good or bad and she said that she liked her art teacher. I could tell her about feeling lonely and I knew that she understood. She liked me and would talk to me about everything. No surprise but artists are usually more open and friendly. I later asked if the art teacher was young and she surprisingly said that she was 40 something.

She also said that she didn’t like her Literature teacher because she would always point at me and the other two international students in class and ask us what do you “international students” have to say / what’s your opinion / what’s your perspective?” She hated being pointed out. We wanted to be normal, she said. Why ask us?

I asked if he she liked the great thunderstorms of middle America and she said no, it made her feel afraid.

Get this, next year she’s planning on attending school in Baltimore . . .


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