Visiting Chinese scholar finds respect in America

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Legend says that there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Liqin Chen, a native of Nanning, Guingxi, China, found something worth more than a pot of gold at the end of her rainbow.

Music is the universal language. Shelia Jackson, Troy Tourism director, and Liqin Chen, a visiting Chinese scholar, communicated in music with Jackson in the lead.

Chen, a visiting scholar at Troy University, arrived in Alabama on Monday, July 23. She spent the first two days inside the apartment recovering from jetlag. But, on Thursday, she decided to venture outside and see what this Alabama was all about.

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“I did not know what to expect,” Chen said. “But what I found was a good experience in the Troy city. It is a wonderful, beautiful place as I walked around and the people I met on the trip were so respectful of me. Me, a visitor from China, a long, long way from home.”

As Chen continued her “trip,” she saw a rainbow in the sky.

“I followed the rainbow and I found a church, the Southside,” she said. “There were no people outside. In China, there are always people outside. How disappointed I was.”

A passerby showed Chen to the back of the church. She looked inside and saw three people sweeping the floor and knocked on the door.

“I said to them, ‘I can sweep with you,’ and they said, no, for me not to sweep and asked me if I wanted pizza,” Chen said. “The ladies were very nice and told me not to walk when it was dark. They drove me home. That was the first time I had talked long to American people. It was exciting and wonderful.”

On Sunday, Chen visited Southside Baptist Church again and attended the Sunday school class being taught by Teresa Johnson, an assistant professor at the Troy University School of Nursing, and her husband, Steve, a financial aid counselor at the university.

“I enjoyed the lesson very much and then they took me home with them and served me dinner,” Chen said. “I had the opportunity to talk with people about the American culture and to get involved in the culture.”

In China, Chen is a teacher of English education and associate dean of the school of foreign languages.

“English is the international language and, in China, children begin to learn English when they are nine years old and continue to learn through college,” she said. “But the English language is most difficult in cross cultures.”

The Johnsons invited Chen a second time to their home and, on this visit, Chen met Steve Johnson’s parents.

“They were celebrating their 63-year anniversary and it was a wonderful love story they shared,” Chen said. “After those years, they are so happy. It was inspiring to hear their story and it was good to know more of the American culture.”

For their hospitality Chen gave the couple a gift, “a very small gift.”

“But, in return, I received a card from an 81-year-old person thanking me for the small gift,” she said. “I was impressed with the respect they showed to each other and to me, an ordinary person.

“The people here in Alabama have treated me with love and respect. I think they do to each other and to all people. What I have learned about Alabama and America the most is the respect the people have. I am so impressed with the respect.”

Chen was invited to attend the IT Summit at Troy University and she received the same kind of respect from those in attendance that she had found on her “trips” around Troy, at church and in the home.

“I was so grateful to all of them,” she said.

“I was impressed, too, with Dr. Jack Hawkins, university chancellor, because he talked not of yesterday but of tomorrow, of the future. He has a great vision. What he said opened my eyes more about America. It is a great place, this America. It has my respect just as it has given me its respect.”