And so it begins…I guess?

I’m currently sitting at the Amsterdam airport on my 5.5 hour layover and thinking back to the past few weeks. Family, friends, and even strangers have been asking me how I feel. My parents threw me a 60s Bollywood-themed farewell party and, although it was great seeing everybody, I found myself in a routine: “Yeah, I guess I’m excited. Packing is done. I’ll probably feel it later.” I’m not sure it has even hit me yet, even though I’m already on the other side of the ocean.

People have been giving me tips and telling me random facts and things to keep in mind: when you enter Chinese airspace, the stewardesses will ask you to put away all electronic devices; haggle the heck out of people; eat everything but be careful what you eat; wear a mask.

The most interesting piece of advice I got was from a customer I was driving home on one of my last days working at Enterprise. She lived on the other side of town, had an extremely outgoing (slightly frightening) personality, and just loved to talk. She told me about her time teaching in China, and that’s when I told her about my upcoming trip. Her eyes widened so quickly that I wondered if the cold would make them dry.

“Let me tell you one thing about the Chinese because I don’t want you going in there expecting anything else: the Chinese don’t give a sh*t about your race, all they care about is your money. People always asked me when I came back whether I experienced racism there as a black woman. I absolutely did not, ever.”

She enlightened me over the rest of our conversation. She told me that, yes, the locals did take pictures of her — just as we, travelers, do when we visit cultural sites. The only difference is that we have the privilege to see the world and experience different types of people, faces, races, and traditions. “I have the ability to live an affluent lifestyle and many of them do not, so the only opportunity they have to witness different races is when we go and visit them.”

I had never thought of it that way. Have you?

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