Appalachia and Shanghai

I’ve spent much of my life dreaming of leaving Appalachia and coming to China, primarily the cities. To not talk with a Kentucky accent, but be purely bilingual with clear tones and pronunciation. To avoid listening to bluegrass music. I preferred 12 Girls Band, and traditional Chinese folk music to the sounds of my hometown. Growing up in Berea and dreaming of Shanghai I was immersed in my own culture while studying the other. These past few days I have found myself immersed in the culture of Shanghai while professors from the Appalachian Studies program at the University of Kentucky have been teaching seminars on practically my hometown.

It’s a little surreal. Berea and Shanghai both are. Berea is hard to explain, they love crossing cultures, being liberal hippies, everyone is vegan… they all like mandolins, banjos and everyone has been part of the Festival Dancers… which I was part of… and I was actually asked the question by 3 people in Shanghai, one from Berea and two Berea-lovers.

I spoke with one of them today– A fiddler from Clark County. I could tell he loved Berea before he spoke a word. Maybe you can just always spot someone from where you’re from. We stood a midst the Chinese looms and he asked me if I’d ever heard of Churchill Weavers. I laughed. Of course, I am from Berea. He pointed out how amazing it was that all of this had come together at the same time. I am blown away and I’m having trouble processing the two cultures I maybe know best. In many ways they’re both part of me.

I also have a lot of critique on both dialogues from both sides concerning the cross-cultural communication. So I guess it’s good that I’m majoring in both. I also possibly found a senior thesis already.

I’m entirely curious as to what God is up to and it’s really exciting.

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