March 3, 2014

Meili's first "China Night"

It often feels like our little spot in South Dakota is just about as rural as you could possibly get. We are 60 miles from the nearest mall and 200+ miles from the nearest Ikea, pro-sports venue and Trader Joe's.  It's safe to say this isn't the most diverse community. But thankfully, we do have the state's largest university and upon closer inspection, we've discovered our tiny town is quite a bit more varied than people realize.

The university attracts people from many different cultures, and occasionally we have opportunities to recognize and celebrate some of the ethnicities that are represented here. We always enjoy the International nights, and of course now, especially China Night. Last year we attended right before we left to get Meili. 

This year, we were thrilled to be able to take her along.

When we were in China, I purchased Chinese dresses in multiple sizes so the girls would all have one to wear during Chinese New Year's events. (Unfortunately I didn't think to buy a set for each girl, because of course, they're getting stained and ripped when the older girls wear them.)

China Night is sponsored by the Chinese Student and Scholar Association, and features authentic Chinese cuisine (15+ different dishes) and a program that highlights different aspects of Chinese culture. 

We were a slightly curious about how Meili would react in this environment; first, because she typically goes crazy in large crowds and second, because about half of those in attendance are native Chinese. Meili doesn't have a lot of experience with other native Chinese children, but when she has it's been interesting. We left her with friends who have two boys from China and she marched right in, got comfortable and waved "bye-bye" to us. We aren't sure if it was a fluke, or if she felt comfortable around them because they were Chinese.

Either way, we were curious about her reaction to China Night.

The verdict?
She LOVED it.

She ate more food than I have ever seen her eat in one sitting before (we thought this was interesting since in large crowds she's usually too distracted to eat anything at all). Seriously, it was almost a full plate of food. And she had even had a large snack before we got there!

She was totally captivated by all the people, especially other Chinese children and even seemed interested in the performances. All four of our kids found a little corner and danced to the music together. A woman sitting next to us commented on our beautiful family and well behaved children. She even jokingly asked if Meili's name was "Sparkle," because she said it just seemed like it would fit her. Of course, she didn't know Meili's Chinese name meant "like crystal, or sparkles."

Although we don't exactly "fit in" with the other Chinese people in our area, we're thankful for the opportunity to expose our biological kids and Meili to little pieces of Chinese heritage without having to go far from home.

We just hope she'll enjoy it this much next year!


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