As my dad walked out of the airport in Memphis, I got this sinking feeling in my stomach: this is real. I am moving to China. Somehow all the months of preparation hadn’t prepared me for this moment. I had been so excited about our big move in the days leading up to our departure, but now, as I watched my dad walk out the door, I just felt alone. I felt my son’s hand tugging on my sleeve, and turning to him, I shook off my reserve. His blue eyes brimmed with tears as he said, “Mom, I don’t want to go to China anymore. I want to stay here with Mimi and Papa.” I dropped the luggage I was carrying at my feet and wrapped him in my arms.
This was a big change for us. This was my son’s first time on a plane—it was my second, and to say I was terrified would have been an understatement. But I knew I’d have to be strong for him. So, I encouraged him, reminding him that we would be meeting his father there. I told him about all the friends he would make and the good times he would have, and then I took his hand and we set off on this great adventure.
Even though my pep talk had worked for my son, I hadn’t believed a word I’d said. Would we really make new friends? Would we create new, fond memories? Would I ever shake this fear that traveling overseas would leave me feeling so utterly alone?
I had a 36 hour journey to ponder these thoughts, and more than once, I’d been tempted to succumb to fear. Yet, soon after arriving at Sias, these fears were dispelled. Though we walked in the doors of Peter Hall well after 9:00 p.m., there was a crowd of foreign teachers gathered at the door to welcome us. I first saw Debbie, a teacher who’d been messaging me photos and videos over the previous two months in order to make me feel welcome. Then, I recognized Megan, another teacher who’d been communicating with me about what to bring with me to China. Soon after, I was led to my room which had been filled with balloons and a large, hand-drawn banner stretched along the back wall that read, “Welcome Home Dean Family”.
It was then I realized that my fears were foolish. I wouldn’t be alone here. I already had a family waiting on me. I just hadn’t met them yet. The next day, as I joined a few of them for a pomelo breakfast, I had confirmation: I am home.