Zhongguo, Here I Come…

I’m currently sitting next to gate B17 at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. My flight to Beijing, China leaves in about 2 hours. I have to say, I’m feeling an enormous mix of emotions–excitement, anxiousness, curiosity, exhaustion (I’ve slept 2 hours last night), and joy. Being at gate B17 is funny — 17 is my lucky number. I’m not all that superstitious, but I’ll take a little luck before a 14 hour flight. I like to think that I’m well prepared for this adventure. I do think I overpacked, but that happens every time I fly anywhere. I am really intrigued to find out what the similarities or disparities will be between this wait in the airport and the one returning to the US. That’s too far off now though.

What has me really interested right now is all that is in the news today: Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has returned to Springfield to give a statement to the Illinois Senate; the US economy continues to fall into this dark hole; President Obama is acting fast but facing lots of criticism and skepticism already; and Chinese officials have pointed the finger at the US in response to the worldwide economic downturn. In four months, when I return, I will have a whole new perspective on things. I wonder how much the news will shift. I am hoping it will shift in the positive direction. The world needs something to smile about. I am confident we will get something soon–it’s just a matter of time. These are interesting times though. I couldn’t have picked a more relevant time to visit China (the largest creditor to the US). I will soon report on what perceptions and thoughts are over there.

To all my family and friends: thank you all for providing me a smooth and loving departure. The thoughts from all of you have been extremely meaningful. Stay tuned as I’ll continue to report here.

Check back soon. Zaijian! (goodbye in Chinese pinyin)