Joan Ahrens Noted Down This Material

March 29:

Hope and Clark Hungerford, of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, kindly met Li-yi at the Cleveland Airport and drove him to the home on Joan and Buzz Ahrens in Wooster, Ohio. The Hungerfords had met Li-yi in Dali a few years ago and were most eager to see him.  They called Joan to arrange a visit.  It was decided that the airport pickup would be a great way to get everyone together. Hope and Clark remained for dinner. 
Chinese professor Rujie Wong, from the College of Wooster, and his wife, Cindy and young son were also invited along with about six students. Joan and Buzz invited friends who were interested in meeting Li-yi and hearing about Mr. China's Son. They were; Sheila and Mike Naylor, Betty Jo and Ned Graham and Beth and Spencer Hodges.  House guest, Patricia Rayon, a long time friend, was visiting from Miami, Florida.  She was a tremendous help the whole time Li-yi was here.

March 30:

With Mike Naylor's help, we had a private tour of the robotics program at Rubbermaid. Prior to retirement this year, Mr. Naylor was the Senior Vice President in charge of this operation.  This visit, to see these remarkable machines, allowed Li-yi to check off one more thing on his American Tour Wish List!  Glad to have had the connection.

Millersburg, Ohio was our next stop.  This was a 40 min drive south of Wooster, in the heart of the largest Amish settlement in the USA.  The Amish wear Black, long beards, cover their heads, speak German and English and drive horse and buggys and plow their fields with teams of work horses.  They use no electricity and only go to school until the 8th grade. They are very clever and work very hard.
We stopped at my friend's home where I have one of my horses and then on to the local Millersburg post office. We checked on postal rates for sending the many heavy books accumulated so far, back to China. Holly Durst, good horse friend of Joan's' and our local guide, and met us in her insurance office about noon. She was tied up with something so we looked in antiques and gift shops until she was ready for us. We then drove to Berlin to visit an Amish friend of hers, Alan Troyer, who has an automated lumber mill.  It was fascinating to see the raw trees go through the mill's many processes and to eventually come out as a board ready for the furniture maker.
We enjoyed a simple lunch and passed the rest of the afternoon driving around looking at the gorgeous farm land and watching Amish farmers plowing behind their horses.We had a bite to eat at home before going to the College of Wooster for Li-yi's presentation. The large classroom at Taylor Hall began to fill promptly at seven. There were townspeople, college staff and students present.  At 9:30, time had run out, there was so much to say, and it was a bit late for some students who had to slip out earlier.  Only a few questions were allowed due to this situation.  We all learned a great deal.

March 31:

Rushed everyone to finish breakfast.  Patricia wanted to talk with Li-yi but he could not talk and eat at the same time so Joan had to be firm and rush them out the door to be on time.  America tends to work that way!  One of the reasons I like to visit China is because I don't have to watch the clock all the time. We met Jolene Dyer at Wooster High School at 7:30 AM!

Li-yi spoke, informally, to two classes and had a grand time, as did the students.  What a nice surprise for them to meet such an interesting man all the way from Yunnan Province, China!  Time flew and after class we were given a school tour by Mrs. Dyer. And oh, what a school!  Olympic size swimming pool, an indoor track and field, a TV station, computers everywhere and classes in TV production with a TV in every room. Before leaving the school, a student from their newspaper asked questions and took photos for their paper.  The principal met us and welcomed Li-yi and pinned a Wooster High School pin on his jacket.  A very unexpected meeting! Next stop was the College of Wooster's book store where we returned unsold books of Mr. China's Son. Seems that Mr. He bought his own to GIVE away -----so sales for the college were down!  I took photos with the purchasing manager near the display of the book and a few autographed copies were left to sell.

On our way back home, we photographed Li-yi with an American Bison herd that live close to us. Sometimes they are called buffalo and Li-yi wanted to know if they gave milk or plowed the fields.  No, was the reply.  I could see him thinking, "well then, what good are they?"  but he didn't have time to ask before I told him they are for meat.

University of Detroit Meeting

Roland Spikerman brought his 8 students to have lunch with us. Part of the group from the University of Detroit had arrived before us. Three cars in all.  They drove almost 4 hours each way. Mr. China's Son is used in class and the group had a non- stop flow of questions.  It was a great afternoon.


First Birthday Party In The 70-year Life

Patricia and I knew about Li-yi having a birthday the day before but kept quiet.  We bought a Tiramisu cake and put candles on and brought it to the table with a few small gifts. We sang Happy Birthday and insisted Li-yi make a secret wish before blowing out the candles (A western custom) What a genuine surprise.  We were so pleased that it was received kindly by Mr. He  and hope there will be many more to follow (now that the "ice" has been broken.)  We understand that this was his very first "party".

Concern was tabled about packing and how long it would take.  So, I repacked the big suitcase and demonstrated how I could win any contest of squeezing the most items into a suitcase.  For this I am an expert.  The more room spared, the more gifts he would have room for to bring back to his family.

April 1:

The Hungerfords had invited the four of us to a museum lecture in University Park in Cleveland but Li-yi was too concerned about his talk at Yale to accept, no matter how hard I tried to persuade him.  In the end I had to give that up. Buzz took Patricia to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland while Li-yi and I took a box of books to the main post office.  We sent them in an M Bag (a canvass bag with an address tag) for half of the usual surface mail rate!   Since we were already downtown, ten minutes from home, we had a look at the four floors of Everything Rubbermaid store.  Buzz has been retired from the company for over a year but we still have a discount of 30%. Li-yi kept his hand in his pockets and resisted temptation.  There were no sales today.

Back home, we worked on his Yale chat: rearranging his slides by putting them in chronological order. We took out about half because of the limited time  frame for his talk.  We practiced and I gave tips on pronunciation, proper use of some words ---like "sheets"!  We are now using polite English and "shit" has been replaced with "human waste".  At least Li-yi can now say the word correctly but I advised him that, in general, it was not appropriate to use this word in polite company. Save it for the locker room.  Because Joan is not a wizard and there is no cook, dinner was the treat of Patricia.  We ate at a Pasta-Pizza place near by.  For the fourth evening, we did not make it to bed until late.

April 2:

This is the last day and we are sorry to say good-bye.  Bags were packed and in good order but one last drama to be played out------a missing black winter jacket!  Ooops, where o where did that little jacket go?  We called Mrs. Dyer, from the High School, at home. She said she gave the jacket back.  We looked at our photos and video and did not see the jacket on Li-yi.  We called the assistant principle and he said to go to the school and have the janitor take us to the room for a look.  Patricia and Buzz were elected to do this (an hour before we were to leave for the airport).

Li-yi and Joan began to play with the video camera.  I was the film director and Li-yi the actor.  We began to film in Li-yi's bedroom. His intentions were to show his family our house, room by room.  As he opened the second closet door, there was the jacket!  He had looked in one but not the other and now we could not recall Patricia and Buzz. Not able to do anything about it, we continued our filming of the house. Li-yi spoke in Chinese as he explored the ins and outs of each room.  It was a lot of fun.  He even counted Buzz's shoes, trousers and shirts.  Little did he know that more than half had been already been packed!  What creatures of material goods, we Americans!

At the airport, everything was on schedule. As I was filming inside, all of a sudden, Li-yi took the camera from me and raced into the men's room. It was so funny. Laughter could be heard inside as the toilet as he whized by the occupants with the camera. We hugged goodbye at the gate and before long, he was off into the wild blue yonder, on his way to Bradley Field in West Hartford, Conn. This only 15 minutes from where Buzz and I were married and where he was raised.  It was a wonderful visit and everyone in Wooster who met and visited with Mr. China's Son, were enriched for it.  We will never forget this magical four days.

Thank you for coming and allowing us to share a part of our world with you as you have shared yours with so so many others as they pass through your Cultural Cafe!  And like you tell your visitors, "please come back to see us, the door is always open."

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