What are the odds

What are the odds of meeting someone in Beijing who both lived in your home town as well as the town you go to college in? I won’t even guess.

Now, what are the odds that two days later you meet a Chinese man on the subway who lived in your home state and who’s granddaughter goes to Northwestern University (which is 30 minutes from your home)? Again, won’t guess.

Both happened to me last week. I’m still smiling because of it all!

On Monday last week, my friend Harry invited a few friends and me to tag along on a dinner he was having with his aunt and uncle who live here in Beijing. His aunt works for a sports marketing firm and is here for next few years working. She recently married her husband, John. I discovered not long into our dinner that John lived in Lake Forest, Illinois for many years and owned Angelo’s flower shop. I was born and raised in Lake Forest. I then learned that he left in the mid 1990’s to move to Colorado where he became a hiking guide. He lived in Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs. Once again, we had an odd connection. He was an avid hiker and runner as well. I then learned that he was a big fan of the Incline, which is the trail that I did a documentary on this past fall for my filmmaking class. Needless to say, we had a lot to talk about that night.

Tuesday morning last week, I had another interesting connection. While not as close as John and me, this was still interesting. I was on Line 2 headed to work when an elderly couple entered the subway car. They sat next to me, quiet for about 5 minutes. Eventually the man moved closer to me and asked, “Are you a student?” His English was amazing. We started talking. I finally learned that his daughter went to the University of Illinois, and his granddaughter now attends Northwestern University. Northwestern is about 30 minutes from my home in Illinois, and I spent a great deal of time there this past winter break with a close friend of mine. The man, Zhong, eventually offered to have me over to his home any time to practice my Chinese. He is a retired, 85 year old professor who had incredibly interesting things to say. I am hoping to connect with him soon to spend some time with him. I think he may have written his phone number down incorrectly though in my notebook. I really hope I can find him again.

So, it really is a small world (even in a country of 1.3 billion people).

2 thoughts on “What are the odds

  1. JK

    Hey Matt,

    Loving the blog and your adventures in China. I’m actually planning on studying Mandarin at PKU from September but have been having a hard time finding people with up to date information on the place. Would you mind sharing any tips/opinions you might have, either via email or over this website?


  2. Karen

    I’m really enjoying your insights and descriptions of life in China. What a small world. I knew John Angelo years ago when he lived in L.F! His flower shop used to be tiny, then moved over to its existing spot near Sunset.

    Hope you are well and continuing to enjoy your experience. I wish we could visit. Looking forward to seeing you in a few months.

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