Last post, Cissy shared on what it is like to live alone in Beijing. If you missed that post, you can read it here. I am very excited for this next interview because my good friend, Dennis, is joining us! I am sure many of you are familiar with the common trend here for people to not only come and go quickly from this city, but also to return after leaving a first time. Many people in our young adult’s ministry, myself included, are excited that he has returned!
First of all Dennis, when did you first come to Beijing and how long did you stay?
The first time I came to Beijing was in the spring of 2010. My university sponsored a trip for some of the Chinese language students to help at an orphanage for two weeks, so I joined them. I absolutely loved the city and knew I wanted to live in it one day. When I finally got the opportunity, I moved here and stayed for about three years.
That is amazing how one short trip inspired you to move here. What did you do while living in Beijing?
I initially taught an extracurricular English course for young learners. By the time I left, I was teaching high school history and literature, and working part-time for an education start-up.
And when you left, where did you move to? How long were you there?
I moved to Columbus, Ohio and I was there for about two years.
I bet Columbus has a much different feel than Beijing does! What did you miss about Beijing while you were in the U.S.?
I missed a lot of things here, but I would say I missed the community here most. There are a lot of good people here.
And one awesome one that just returned! Which leads to my next question…When did you return? What do you do now?
I returned to Beijing in mid-October of this year and I have returned to my school to continue teaching high school students.
We have seen quite a few people in our community here who have decided to return… and for a variety of different reasons! What was it that made you return?
I came back mostly because I missed my friends and family here, but also because I was finished with the things I went back to Ohio to do.
It seems like you had a sense of closure in leaving the United States when it was time. When you initially left Beijing, did you ever imagine yourself returning?
When I left, I told everyone that if things didn’t go well back home, I’d come back in about two years if the smog was less of a problem. When everyone kept telling me how beautiful this past summer was, I decided to return. It just so happened that I came back right after the two-year mark of when I left.
Well, a lot can happen in this city in two years. Beijing changes quite frequently. What were some of the biggest changes that you saw in the city when you returned?
Lots of shops and restaurants have moved or closed down, including some of my favorites. Luckily, new places are always opening up here, so I think I’ll be alright.
Apart from physical surroundings, Beijing can have a different feel for us personally. Does it feel like the same Beijing experience since you have returned?
It feels quite similar as to when I left. Most of the same people are still here and already I’ve kind of just dropped back into the life I left two years ago. I’m pretty thankful for that actually, because it’s made the transition feel totally seamless.
Well it’s good to know that despite its frequent changes and fast pace, it can still feel like the same city! However, I’m sure returning to Beijing is a very different experience than arriving for the first time is. What are your expectations for your second round in Beijing?
I think on a professional level, I intend to start a Master’s program while I’m here this time. It would definitely help get me closer to where I want to be. On a more personal level, I came back in order to deepen the relationships I have here and to support those people spiritually in what they are going through. I guess my biggest expectation is getting to see God do some big things in people’s lives.
And we all know how quickly God moves in this city! Not only do people grow spiritually at a very quick rate, but He is constantly bringing people to and from the city. That said, do you have any idea of how long you will be in Beijing this time?
I know someone who intended to stay here for three weeks but during the second week of her trip, canceled her flight home and then stayed for five years. Beijing has a way of drawing people in, so I’m not even going to guess how long I’ll stay this time. However, I will say that I’m overjoyed at being back.
Well as I said, we are so happy you have returned and it is great to see you taking another leap of faith!
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