This past weekend during my extended stay in China, my uncle took me to the place where my mother grew up. The simplicity and the starkness of it all was astounding to see. The area was largely untouched by industrialization and the houses were still there. To know that my mother, who was probably my age at the time, led a completely different life than I had led – it’s just crazy to think about.
When I was younger my mother would always tell me stories about what it was like being raised by her grandmother on a farm in rural China. Her own parents were busy with work and taking care of her three other siblings, so she was sent to live with her grandparents, who did not get along. Seeing how drastically different life must have been for her was eye-opening. It has only made me realize how grateful I should be for the most basic things, like running water and electricity.
After that, we went to a museum of tree root sculptures in the city. We took a guided tour in a clean, nicely decorated, yet modern place. This commercialized tourist area contrasted greatly with the small plot of land that was my mother’s home. Nevertheless, it offered a telling glimpse into the culture I was born into.