Here’s our latest students reflection by Damia, titled “A Walk in Shenzhen”
On the last evening of my homestay in Shenzhen, my host family decided to take me to a long coast walk that borders the waters looking over Hong Kong. Since I had spent so much time in malls and shopping centers, my host student wanted to show me a different side of Shenzhen. The sky was just cloudy enough to shade all the people who were walking, running, cycling, and picnicking outside under the sun. When my host family and I were walking up to the concrete path, my host mother stopped me and her daughter as we passed a row of bushes. I curiously observed as my host mom walked up to a bush and grabbed a handful of small white flowers. She excitedly brought the flowers near my face and motioned for me to inhale the scent. My host student translated what her mother was saying; my host mom was telling me how she and her friends would put these scented flowers in small bags and fold their clothes around them to keep the clothing smelling fresh. She poured the petals in my hands and motioned for us all to continue walking towards the path. With the flowers in hand, I followed my host mom down to the pathway that bordered the murky water.
My host dad left us in the middle of our leisurely walk to buy white grapefruit from a
vendor near the water. I had asked my host student earlier if she had ever tried white grapefruit before; she told me it was one of her favorite fruits, and she had asked her father if we could eat some before my homestay was over. When my host dad returned with the fruit in hand, we all sat beside a bed of roses and began to peel away at the fruit. My host parents laughed at me as I struggled to peel away the thick peel. My host dad, laughing, took the fruit from my hand and peeled it for me before placing it back in my hand. We all continued to eat in complete silence. The sound of the people chatting and the bushed bustling filled the air as we all soaked in the breathtaking view of the vast water just on the other side of the path. Even though I wasn’t able to speak to my host parents directly, no words were needed as well all sat together near the flowers and ate out fruit. I had never felt more connected to anyone than I had in that moment. I felt like I was a member of the beautiful family that so warmly welcomed me into their homes. They all finished eating before I did, but they still waited for me to finish my grapefruit before we continued our walk down the long concrete path.