The reason I asked about this kind of a phrase is because after reading an article about Americans coming to China for work the other day, I have the feeling that Qian and I are about to leave a relatively smooth and calm brook and are about to begin walking upstream in a substantially stronger, and possibly raging, river.
From The New York Times:
Over the past couple months, I've talked a number of times on this blog about my apprehension about returning to the States at this particular time (I think I laid out a lot of the reasons well in a comment on this post). Qian and I know that this is a terrible time to be leaving China and going to America. But at the same time, it's something we really have to do right now.
BEIJING — Shanghai and Beijing are becoming new lands of opportunity for recent American college graduates who face unemployment nearing double digits at home.
Even those with limited or no knowledge of Chinese are heeding the call. They are lured by China’s surging economy, the lower cost of living and a chance to bypass some of the dues-paying that is common to first jobs in the United States.
"I’ve seen a surge of young people coming to work in China over the last few years," said Jack Perkowski, founder of Asimco Technologies, one of the largest automotive parts companies in China.
"When I came over to China in 1994, that was the first wave of Americans coming to China,” he said. “These young people are part of this big second wave."
In a selfish way, it angers me that some of the brightest minds in America, and the rest of the world, are now focusing their attention on China. I want to, in a way, keep the country "mine" and want to have my unique experience of being in China for more than three years stay a really remarkable thing.
But, of course, this is a ridiculous feeling for me to have. I'd be a fool to think that intelligent people from around the globe wouldn't want to come to China to take advantage of the situation that is being presented right now. And in another way, China is going to be a much better place the more that foreigners come here and the more exposed its people get to the rest of the world. The benefits of foreigners coming to China now will affect both the country and myself positively in the future, I feel.
So, overall, this article above and hearing about western people finding success in China are good things. It's just that reading stories about westerners becoming quasi-economic refugees and leaving the States when I'm a few days away from heading back to America gives me some conflicting feelings.
Anyone who's read my blog with any frequency the past few months knows about my disillusionment with a lot of the aspects of American life and about how I feel that the economic crisis is not a little blip on the ever climbing path of unlimited and unrestrained growth. I have serious concerns about the direction America is headed and particularly about what Qian and I are going to do with ourselves upon our return.
Saying all that, I'm confident that, despite the bleak economic scene in America, we are going to end up being alright.
A week or two ago, Qian's parents, Qian, and I got together for a formal dinner where I, essentially, asked for her hand in marriage. At that time, Qian's dad grilled me a bit about what our plans are and how we're going to survive in America. I feel like my response was one of my all-time most awesome uses of Chinese ever (her dad, of course, does not speak English).
He told me that Qian is there only child and that they are worried about her being on the other side of the planet in a country with a struggling economy. I assured him that I'm strong enough and resourceful enough to both take care of Qian and provide her a decent life in America. I used my life in China as an analogy. I asked him to remember the first time I met him a year and a half ago and how crap my Chinese was and how much I didn't understand about China and its customs. I then talked about where I'm at now both with my Chinese and with my general knowledge of how China works. I pointed out to him that I'm now a manager with ten people working underneath me at the school I work at and have done a good job at adjusting to life in China. I told him that I will get things done in America and will do them well.
After I finished my minute or two of talking, he flashed me a huge smile, stuck out his hand, and said "OK!" We then gave each other a very firm hand shake. Apparently I'd convinced him that I'm 厉害 enough to marry his daughter. That conversation and the look on his face throughout the conversation are things I'll never forget.
The things I said to him were all strong statements and ones that I'm going to have to back up. I'm confident I can though.
Qian and I are about to 逆流而上, yet we are committed to living in America for at least two years (when she can receive a green card) and possibly much longer if things are going well. We're both a combination of nervous and excited. Us going to America is scary and it is a gamble. But I truly believe that we're about to embark upon a fantastic journey.