But Will She Like Grandma's Noodles?

By Lana Walker


As I write this, a friend and her family are in China to officially adopt a six-year-old girl. They'll bring her back with them to the United States and begin a journey that will change their lives in countless ways.

Will she like sharing a room with her new teenage sister?

Will she like the family cat? Will the cat like her?

Will she like her new grandma's famous chicken and noodles?

Will she easily embrace her new life? Or will she withdraw while she adjusts to the shock of massive change.

Living in a foreign country can be hard. I've lived in three; four if you count moving from the Ohio Valley to the San Gabriel Valley in Southern California.

For six months I taught English to Laotians living in a refugee camp in northern Thailand. It was a priceless experience, an immersion into a world far removed from the clean, air conditioned, lizard-free, scorpion-free, ice-cold-bath-free space I normally inhabited. But I loved it.

My students ranged from Yao (or Mien) hill tribe women who weren't fond of being in a classroom, to sophisticated Chinese-speaking men and women who sought out opportunities to learn or practice English.

We also helped the refugees prepare for a completely different life in the Western world, where they were to be relocated.

Frankly, the curriculum we were to follow was boring. Students often would skip class. So, I decided to get creative. For example, one afternoon I showed a group of women how to make lemon pudding in a wok. And to keep a class of restless young men from bolting, I led them through crazy-fun vocalizations of sounds that various clocks make. Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Tick tock tick tock! Because showing up at an appointed hour wasn't a cultural strong suit, I stressed the importance of being on time in their new countries.

Living in Thailand was an amazing experience. A dream come true. It's truly an honor to be invited to a country to teach life-changing skills.

So how about a trip to Africa? Meet my client Merle McKinley.

Merle is a Master Certified Coach, a Certified Somatic Coach and an Aikido black belt. She recently traveled to Ethiopia to support the first East African Aikido Association Friendship Seminar, where young practitioners from Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Djibouti gathered to learn from experts in Aikido, embodied leadership, somatic education, and conflict resolution.

I love working with clients who are making the world a better place. I was fortunate to assist Merle in creating her Web site, including design and content development.

Visit her site and be sure read about her trip to Ethiopia here.

Read her About Me page to learn about her professional journey.