When my husband and I announced to our children that we would spend two months living in China over the summer, my girls had a pressing question. It wasn’t about the food or the language or where they would live. Instead, they asked: “Can you take a picture of us doing leapovers on the Great Wall of China?”
Which just goes to show the place Irish dance has in their minds. They were both sad to miss dance classes while they were
gone, but they didn’t miss dancing. They just found new ways to do it. We started our trip in Istanbul, Turkey for a few days and then on to Seoul, Korea. While walking through a central square with a lighted fountain and music, Rachel (age 15) noted that the music was a reel. Once she figured that out, both she and Sarah Ann (age 10) couldn’t help themselves. Soon, they were jumping and spinning across the square while my 13-year-old son groaned and a crowd gathered to watch.
And that was just the beginning. Once we got to China, whenever there was an open area, the girls danced. Now keep in mind that when my four American children, with their light complexions, just walked around doing nothing out of the ordinary at all, they tended to get stares, finger pointing, and very often requests for photos. They felt like celebrities. So, when these blonde-headed girls started doing Irish dance, it drew crowds instantly. My girls did impromptu practice sessions for audiences in Dalian (where we were based), Shanghai, Guangzhou, Nanjing and Beijing. Three days before we left China, we finally made it to the Great Wall. And there, after about twenty attempts for each girl with my slow point-and-shoot camera, I captured the moment they had been waiting for since the announcement of our trip months ago: the Great Wall leapover.
When I think back on our summer in China, I think of learning to eat slippery noodles with chopsticks, staring out the window as hundreds of miles of beautiful Chinese countryside zoomed by on the bullet train, and of my kids teaching a bus full of Chinese kids how to sing “Let it Go” in English. But I also think of how there must be hundreds of Chinese families all across the country with photos of themselves and my children stuck to their fridge (what do you do with photos of strangers, anyway?). And there must be hundreds of Chinese families with phone videos of two American girls dancing their hearts out, hollering to each other things like “keep your back foot turned out there!” and “you didn’t close the fifth position all the way on that beat!” – and clearly having the time of their lives.
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