Megan and her family like climbing the Great Wall in Huairou. “Each section of the Great Wall has a different history and the stories behind them are different. As seasons come and go, the Great Wall also takes on different looks. So are the local people’s lives. Once we slept out in tents there and it was so quiet,” Megan said. There are a number of reasons why Megan is fascinated with the Great Wall and the most important one is that she felt “the same serenity as that in my hometown”.
Nine years ago, Megan and her husband came to Beijing together with their two kids from Tasmania, Australia, a beautiful and quiet island, which is quite similar to the suburb of Huairou. However, the two equally serene places differ in history. “My hometown is a small modern city and the oldest building in the city is probably 200 years old, but the Great Wall has a history of hundreds of years,” said Megan.
Megan’s hometown. [Photo provided to Qianlong]
Megan and her husband work as teachers of Beijing City International School, and the children also study there. The same time table enables the family to go for outings together. Therefore, they rent a farm house at the foot of the Great Wall and come there now and then.
Last September her son made a birthday wish that he could climb the Great Wall to his heart’s content. For Megan, the farm house was also a good place to learn Chinese cuisine. “Our landlady is friendly and she often sends us some vegetable she grows in her garden like potatoes and onions. One day she gave us a kind of vegetable that looked like wild grass and we didn’t know how to cook it. She taught us with patience. We had difficulties in communicating with each other as we don’t speak fluent Chinese, so we used body language. It was of great fun,” she explained.
What attracts the family most in Beijing is that they can enjoy both the serenity and prosperity of the city.
Many years ago when Megan’s sister came to China she immediately fell in love with the Chinese culture. “My sister urged me to come here and she told me that China is a free, inclusive and rapidly developing and changing country.”
They have found new changes every time they came back from travelling since nine years ago.
A subway line has been extended to their community. Alleyways have turned into a park. New restaurants and an international supermarket have been opened not far away from their home. New roads are built in the village in Huairou where their rented farm house is located. “When we first arrived in China there was no WeChat, but today we can’t live without it! That’s one of Beijing’s charms – you have to always get ready to learn new things and embrace changes,” Megan added.
Four years ago, Megan and her husband adopted a Chinese girl in Guangdong and named her Mei. Now Mei has completely adapted to the family. The two older children would make concessions to Mey and look after her and Megan also humors her a little. “I don’t allow the older children to play with cellphone but if Mey wants to play with it I will agree occasionally,” Megan smiled.
Megan graduates from University of Tasmania and gets her master’s degree in 2014. [Photo provided to Qianlong]
Megan’s husband. [Photo provided to Qianlong]
Mei in the farm house in Huairou. [Photo provided to Qianlong]
Megan’s son climbs the Great Wall. [Photo provided to Qianlong]