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The Odyssey Makes Magic Happen... Discovering Long Lost Family in Wuhan
July 15, 2000

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Jasmine having dinner with my family in their Wuhan home. Just look at all that rice and yummy Chinese food!
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I knew that the World Trek in China would take me to see many new sights and teach me a lot about Chinese history, but I never thought that the Odyssey would lead me to discover a part of my own family. It is here in Wuhan, the only Chinese city situated on both sides of the mighty Yangzi River, that I met my great-uncle. Before last week, I never even knew such a man existed, let alone imagined the close bond I would feel to him. Just like I had been promised, the Odyssey World Trek does indeed make magic happen.

Map
When I stepped off the bus in Wuhan, I was greeted by an elderly Chinese gentleman who looked exactly, and I mean exactly, like a cross between my grandfather and my father. It was weird. The man standing across from me was my great-uncle, whom I call shu gong in Chinese. Shu gong 's hair is all black, so he looks younger than my grandpa. One night I asked my shu gong to tell me about our family's past and it's a story that I'd like to share with all of you.

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Me and my shu gong enjoying a local Wuhan delicacy-
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The furthest back shu gong can remember is to the days of his own parents. My great-grandparents were both born and raised in the same little town in Sichuan province, called YunAn. A matchmaker, who decided that their similar family backgrounds made them an ideal match, introduced great-grandma and great-grandpa to one another.

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My great-grandmother, who gave birth to nine kids, spent her entire life living in Sichuan province, and lived past 80 years.
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My great-grandfather only took one wife during his entire lifetime. It was very common practice for men to have multiple wives during that time era in Chinese history. One woman could even be married to several different men at the same time. How confusing!

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Me and my great-uncle looking at an album of old family photos. Would you believe there weren't even color photos back then?
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My great-grandfather made his living manufacturing and selling salt, a trade he shared with several other major salt producers in China. They made salt by drawing up water from wells, then heating the water to boil all the liquid off, leaving edible and useable salt behind.

Vocabulary

matchmaker - someone who arranges a marriage between a man and woman
edible - something you can eat

It's really weird to think that I might never have met this great-uncle were it not for the Odyssey bringing me here. What a terrible, terrible tragedy that would have been.

Yang-Yang

p.s. - Please e-mail me at ...yang-yangchen@bigfoot.com
 

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