I wanted to write a blog or two about a couple of my first friends in China. I am thankful to say that we are staying in touch even after 16 years!

The first gentleman I want to tell you about is named Don, and I met him on my first trip to China in 2002. We met on the campus where my group was speaking to the English majors and playing basketball. One of the first things I noticed about Don was his amazing English skills. Ironically, he was a Chinese major.

Don was kind of shy when we would have groups of students to speak with, but he was at all of the basketball games, and at the English Corner on campus. An English Corner is where people would gather to practice their English.

We exchanged email addresses, and I am thankful to say we’ve stayed in touch. When I returned to teach in 2003, it was wonderful to have a friend there. He was graduating that year, so I am glad we were able to hang out as often as we did. He was part of a gang of guys I always played basketball with Thursday and Saturday afternoons.


Don is one of the few people I know that I can honestly say I think they are brilliant! He has an amazing ability to read something and not only retain it, but also understand it. Having said that, it didn’t surprise me at all when he was given a scholarship to go to graduate school in Chengdu, which is in the Sichuan Province where the panda bears live. Later he would do graduate level study in Hong Kong and the States. Don is also a very patient person, as he tried to teach me to say a few words in Chinese, which didn’t work well for a guy that is too old to teach something new and had a southern drawl. He also taught me about the culture and history of China.

Not only does Don have a great mind, but he also has a huge heart! His parents are farmers, so they would not be considered rich. Don has a younger brother, and Don has always tried to encourage his brother and help him where he could. Don’s generosity was abundantly clear when he gave his little brother his only radio! I was truly impressed with Don’s character and concern for his family!

Speaking of Don’s family, he is now a married man, and he and his wife recently had a baby! My nickname for Don is Daddy Don. He is a wonderful man, and I am thankful he is my friend and I got to share about him with you!