My Serendipitous Meeting

I had just finished conversing with store owners along Dianme Wai with the help of Li Min, one of our interpreters, when I decided to pop into a clothing boutique and check it out. That's where I met 26-year-old Yan Ying Zhi, a recent college graduate, super-friendly, who was excited to practice her rusty English on me.

"Go with me to other store," Yan smiled, offering to help me, after I'd discovered that nothing in the store was going to fit me.

I nodded, returning her smile and followed her out the door.

After visiting a few other stores, Yan invited me to lunch at Jitian Snack. Despite my protests, she ordered and paid for our lunch. Yan informed me that her English name is Vera, a name she chose by simply looking through a dictionary. I also learned, from our limited conversation, that she studied law in school, currently works at an insurance company, likes classical music and loves Forrest Gump. Her father is a doctor, practicing traditional Chinese medicine, and her mom is a homemaker.

After lunch, I showed her our hotel, and we chatted in my room. She called our meeting serendipitous and lucky, citing yuan fen, a Chinese Buddhist concept that can't quite be translated into English. Yuan fen, I later learned, is a term often used by the Chinese to describe relationships that were meant to be - a kind of fate. The term combines yuan, meaning fate or destiny and fen, meaning a share or a part.

I am grateful to have experienced my first yuan fen in China, and I look forward to more.

Very cool that this Chinese,

Very cool that this Chinese, young lady took such an interest in getting to know this American visitor. I believe they are every bit as curious of us as we are about them. Amazing how little we know about each other's culture but that will no doubt change in the future as China continues to open up to the world.