I had originally set aside this journal entry to summarize my thoughts about the trip, but I find myself unable to do so at this juncture. My head is still spinning from all of it! I need more time to let it all sink in and 'process' what happened.
Some thoughts about the videos I took as we discovered relatives in China:
Greetings & Relationships
The initial greetings almost always lead to a discussion about how to address each other, depending on how we are related - which side of the family, gender, relative age (younger or older), and generation. It was especially challenging for me because I first needed to figure it out in English before I could think about it in Chinese.
On the one hand, I wanted to make sure to capture those important moments for Mom. At the same time, I too wanted to talk to the people we met. So there were times in which I was attempting to film a conversation that she was having, while trying myself to talk with someone else.
That's just crazy talk... !
Because multiple conversations were going on at once, I kept swinging the camera from one conversation to the next. It's also why you hear one person explaining a relationship, another person asking the same question ten minutes later, and me asking what happened!
I was the youngest of four generations present, so technically I should let Mom do the talking. For the most part I did okay, but I couldn't help myself when 表舅 drove up! This is why I often asked Mom to ask the relatives about this and that, when I could have asked them myself. On camera, it seemed liked I was telling her what to say, when actually I was trying not to overstep my boundaries.
My Chinese side and my American side were at odds with each other!
This also happened each time we stepped into someone's house. I should let other people enter first, but Gupoh would still be outside talking with people. Meanwhile I needed to get inside asap and keep the camera on Mom just in case. The end result was that I rushed Gupoh - twice. Both times were caught on camera, and both times I was the one filming! How rude, how embarrassing, and how silly!
Hopefully she didn't notice... OOPS!
Disbelief & Adrenaline
It was hard to comprehend that within minutes of entering Wypoh's village, we were meeting relatives that we didn't expect to find. It was also hard to understand how first cousins who only lived a few hours apart had never met until now. So even when something had already been explained, either it didn't register the first time around and had to be repeated, or it DID register but I had a hard time believing it and would repeat the question again (and again).
My Chinese is both good and bad. Sometimes I understood everything. Other times it went over my head. WHOOSH! Meanwhile, Mom wasn't sure how much I understood, so sometimes she would translate from Shandongnese to Mandarin, and other times she broke straight into English. Problem was that I understood more than she realized, so while I was being polite by not say anything while she translated, my ears were already tuned in elsewhere and my mind got all mixed up!
Basically what I'm trying to say is that -
If I sounded bewildered in all the videos that I've posted, it's because I was! Very much so!
To say that I was multitasking would be an understatement...