My month in the US ended with an evening flight on Christmas Day. My family were all catching up after Christmas anyway, so I got to celebrate Christmas TWICE – on two different continents.
I really enjoyed my time in Minneapolis. It was lovely to relax with wonderful friends. Minnesota is known as the land of 10,000 lakes; after driving around Minneapolis I believe it! Minneapolis has 20 lakes, plus other waterways and waterfalls and wetlands, and sits across both banks of the Mississippi River. One interesting sight during my trip was a bunch of turkeys roaming a suburban street!
Throughout this trip I’ve had reunions with people I haven’t seen in years, but my New York reunions were the most impressive. I also did some touristing, seeing the New York Highline, Chelsea Markets, Times Square and the Rockefeller Centre Christmas tree.
I came to the US to be in my best friend’s wedding. Christina and I met in Beijing; she met her now husband, who is from Nigeria, in Cambodia; they got legally married in Thailand; then we we all together to celebrate their church wedding in the US. Confused yet? There were guests from Sydney (me), London, Abuja (Nigeria), and I think 7 different US states. It was a wonderful time.
This was my first trip to the East Coast of the US in 18 years – since my family lived in Connecticut in 1996-1997. There were so many memory triggers! Tall oak trees; wood-clad houses; tall, sloping rooves with attic windows; squirrels bouncing around; lakes and ponds with frozen tops. I spent the last two nights in a house first built over 250 years ago.
My first stop was Los Angeles, where I spent a day visiting with China friends. It was a gorgeous day – the air was so clear I could see the Hollywood sign. A week later, the whole day seems almost like a dream – did it really happen?
This latest change allows for each couple to have two children, something most couples were already permitted. It is certainly not a “scrapping” of the policy, as many headlines have screamed. And after decades of the government telling people they really don’t want more than one child, not everyone wants to take advantage of the latest change.
There are several ways in which China’s Family Planning policies are enforced – social welfare benefits, and fines for additional children. IUDs, sterilisations, and abortions are also used liberally to maintain a low birth rate. The big problem comes when officials’ career prospects are tied to minimising births in their jurisdiction – opening the door to abuses of power.