When Jeff and I accepted the invitation to visit China, we knew we were going to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience. As we described in our previous blog, our pre-trip planning had been fascinating. Even so, we could never have imagined how amazing the trip would actually be!
Jeff and I stepped off the plane in Wuhan and were immediately met with incredible hospitality. Our greeters, Lily and Finny, were warm, kind and lovely—truly soulful people. Lily is a graduate student and Finny did much of the organization for Oriental Insight, the group that invited us to China.
Every detail was accounted for. Lily handed us a bag of very useful sundries (umbrella, sunscreen, cell phone programmed to call her & charger, and plenty of tissues!). Having traveled for 23 hours, we were wiped out and exhausted. Our hosts drove us to our hotel, and sensing our growing appetites, told us where we could get something to eat.
We stayed in a two-room suite in a hotel on the campus of the Central China Normal University in Wuhan. For our first 3 days, we were able to sightsee with the help of translators. Our hosts organized our transportation and activities including bicycling around a lake in a beautiful park, crossing the Yangtze River on a ferry, visiting local (non-touristy) restaurants, and seeing wonderful museums and culture. We were able to really get to know our guides—we were very interested in their experiences and vice versa.
It’s hard to pinpoint highlights since the entire trip was sensational. However, the banquet that we attended was certainly memorable! Along with Chinese professors and mental health professionals, we were among 80 people in attendance.
We sat at round tables that seated approximately 15-20 people. A lazy-susan was positioned in the center, displaying a variety of different dishes. People would come over to our table to toast with us—this continued throughout the night!
After the food, drink, and toasting, an impromptu talent show ensued (The Chinese like to entertain!). The attendees sang and danced, and they wanted their America guests to do the same! Luckily, we were prepared and had rehearsed our song, “One People” by singer/songwriter Bobby Sweet. Our performance was very well received!
The connections that we made during our trip are really strong—almost unusually so. This is an even bigger feat considering that the language barriers are significant. Although the graduate students spoke English, English was not spoken on the streets and by most adults over 35 that we came across in the city.
It is important that we also recognize our hosts Professor Jiang, Finny, Lily, and all the students and professors who served as translators and guides from Oriental Insight for the remarkable planning that went into making our trip happen. Every single detail was beautifully attended to and executed.
In spite of the major cultural differences, one of the things we learned was that, in China, children of high-conflict families (whether married or divorced) have very similar experiences as those in the U.S. They are caught in the middle, very distressed by the conflict, and want their parents to be friendly and kind to one another. Half-way around the world—families are families, and children are children. They need the system to quiet down and for healing to begin.
Jeff and I would love to share more about our trip with you. Please contact us with your questions.
My Divorce Recovery
Lauren Behrman, Ph.D.
Jeffrey Zimmerman, Ph.D., ABPP