Caizhen Li outside a restaurant in Canton during her return to China this past summer.
I went back to China this summer with my parents, my brother, and some relatives.
There were 13 of us. We went because we still have a lot of relatives in China
and we have been away for five years. It was a surprise for them. My family bought
the tickets in April but we didn't tell anybody in China. We thought if
we told them, they would feel nervous and concerned about us and wouldn't
go to sleep well.
Before we were to go, a very dangerous thing happened in China. It was called "SARS." SARS
is an extremely awful disease. It affected a lot of people. People who have this
kind of disease feel exhausted and not in a good mood. They feel so sleepy and
their eyes feel dreadful. It was easy for the disease to pass to other people.
The disease killed many people. People in Hong Kong and in Beijing were afraid. "Even
the people in Hong Kong and in Beijing wear masks whenever they go out," one
of my relatives said.
During that month of SARS, the prices of the airplane tickets decreased because
all of the people were afraid to go to China.
My family and I were very curious about SARS and wondered if that would affect
us. At first my family and I decided not to go in the summer because a lot of
flights were canceled. But finally a month later, we heard the SARS was over,
so we changed our minds, and at the end we decided to go.
When we arrived at Hong Kong airport, my uncle and his friends came to pick us
up. I was so happy to see my uncle. After we were done with all the important
things, like the passports and getting the suitcases, we took the bus to my uncle's
car. On the bus there were a lot of forms for us to fill out about our health.
We arrived at the city at 4:00 in the morning. We went to a hotel instead of
going home. We lived at the hotel for two days. We ate at a restaurant and my
uncles, aunts and my cousins came over.
After breakfast on the second day we bought some food and we went to my family's
house near the hotel. Some of my neighbors were very surprised. They said, "Am
I dreaming or what?" some people said. "We are so excited to see
you and we missed you."
I was so happy to see my grandma because she took care of me when I was younger
and she is very nice. I went to call my friends. They didn't believe I
was really there. I couldn't recognize most of the people. They looked
different. They were taller and they were skinny. Also of their attitudes, the
way they acting, spoke, was different. On the other hand, I could recognize all
my cousins, and uncles and aunts and some of older people but people didn't
change that much.
The food tasted so good. It was so cheap my family and myself always went out
to eat with my relatives and some of friends and neighborhood. Also we loved
to go out at night. It was very crowded at night and it was cool out there. I
hung out with my family and my friends. We had plenty of activities to do. For
example we walked around the stores, rode bikes around the Stone Mountain, went
fishing, watched my friends play volleyball, and had fun at the Karaoke. When
we went home it was close to 2 or 3 a.m. The time was very different from America.
Caizen at a beach not far from her home.
The saddest moment was when we had to leave my relatives, friends and my neighbors.
We didn't want to separate from each other far away. We wanted to remain
at that moment forever. Nevertheless we had to come back to the U.S. Some of
my relatives told us to come back again soon and some told us to visit them no
more than 3 or 4 years later. I did agree with them that my family and I would
go back soon in the future, but I didn't promise how many years. In addition
they wept. But I couldn't because I knew that no matter what, there was
no way for me to stay. I had to leave them and come back to U.S. to get more