Let me start with this: I am proudly writing this from the comfort of my hotel room, not from a airport back room with airport security staring down at me. Whew!
Every interview trip, we pack toys for the children. It helps them open up in front of us (strangers) who are asking them personal questions (what’s your favorite color?) and staring at them with huge, inexplicable smiles (you are so cute!). In the actual packing of toys, we have to find ones that are small enough to fit 100+ in one suitcase, “fun” enough for the children to be interested by them, gender neutral enough for the boys and girls to play with, cheap enough not to break my bank account…and on and on. We’re usually left with small rolling cars, bouncy balls, and cheap, knock-off Nerf guns. That’s where the troubles came in today.
I told our guide, Veronica, that we were out of toys after meeting the children last week and needed to picked up some more. She saved the day, meeting me at the airport with a few dozen dolls and cheap pop guns, and she even already had them perfectly packed like a Tetris challenge into a small box – I’m still not sure how they all fit. We rolled up to the security check point and were told the box couldn’t be checked onto the flight, it must be a carry-on. It wasn’t until we approached the end of the security line that we started to question the sanity of our plan to carry 50+ toy nerf guns onto a plane in China. Unsurprisingly, they were less than impressed with our protestations that these were just toys, opening the whole box, pulling out each toy for inspection, and finally only letting us through after verbally warning us, “Do not pull them out on the plane!” You got it! Note to families who may be traveling soon: attempting to carry on a box of toy nerf guns is probably not the best idea. #lifelessons
We made it Sichuan safely, though, and the children there were happy to have their toys to play with! There were a number of kiddos who I know will be great matches for host and forever families, but Mr. Inquisitive stood out today. What a cutie! He was so talkative, chatting away with his translator and laughing at our questions. He can’t see out of one eye, but that didn’t stop him from trying to figure us out! He kept asking, “What are they saying? Why are they talking like that!” When his caretaker explained we were Americans speaking English, he immediately replied, “Why would I know English? I’m only in first grade, and we don’t learn English until 3rd grade! My teacher hasn’t taught me yet! I’m ready to learn!” His humor and smile filled the room, and he was a joy to be around. His file, like many, has been on the shared list for years, and we know that once families see what a sweetheart he is, he won’t need to wait anymore. I love hosting for this reason, and every trip is worth it to meet children like him.
After a day and a half worth of work rolled into one, tomorrow is a day full of travel to our next destination. From China, with love and a little humor to keep the journey going!
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