Sunday, August 24, 2008


As I was growing up my parents always told me that what they wanted for Christmas, their birthday, or whatever occasion was my love and continued hard work in school. They looked at my dedication to my studies as a gift to them. It was a little hard since I couldn’t put a bow on it, but that is what they wanted. They valued my studying and made it a family priority.

I have been seeing how much more that is true out here. The Uyghur people, at least here in the city, value learning English and studying hard. This priority trumps a lot of things in their daily hierarchy.

Two of my teachers have been over in the last few days and serve as perfect examples. One lady is seven and a half months pregnant with their first child. They have been planning for this baby for a long time. Most Uyghur families have their first child within their first year and a half of marriage, this couple though has been married for almost six years and is only now expecting. Both are thrilled at the prospect of having a baby ( not to mentioned the excitement of their extended family, who were beginning to doubt it would ever happen). Her husband, however, has just been offered to go to Australia and study for at least six months. Granted it is a great privilege, and a wonderful opportunity for his language skills, so much so that they have decided he should go. So their first child will be born, and then a month later he will leave. I have an America friend who is engaged and when she heard about this set up she said “I would knock Jonny’s head off if he ever even suggested leaving me alone with our first child”. She might value study, but not at the expense of family.

My other teacher stopped by to see my new place. When she saw I had an empty spare room, she asked if she could move in with me. The question was half in jest half sincere. She even went as far as so ask what I would charge her for rent. This woman is married, with a teenage son, but living and learning from me took higher priority.

I think both of these visits really weirded me out since Uyghurs normally seem to put such a high value on family.

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