In 2004, Wifey and I (pre-kids) set off on a great adventure; teaching English in China.
At that time, China was in the in-between, fully opened to the world economy, but still afflicted with widespread, crushing poverty. Over 700 million peasant farmers living on a dollar a day, fighting to get that job working a mere 70 hours a week in a factory.
We lived amid that poverty in Cowtown southern China, a town so small the nearest McDonalds was a 2 hour bus ride away.
A town so provincial that the foreign teachers were warned not to pick the fruit off the trees on campus, because they were the local farmers’, and a part of their incomes. There were even small farm plots on the university grounds.
And the place was NOISY. Every driver; bus, car or motorcycle, felt the need to honk his horn every 10 seconds and by second term, I was basically confined to the campus; there was little to do, and I couldn’t take the noise. It was there that I developed my voice.
One of my respites was my computer. I spent hours writing the stories of Wifey’s and my adventures, in greater detail each passing week.
First I simply sent them out to family, but they forwarded the emails on, and people began asking me to include them on the email list.
I learned about the power of story to entertain, engage and build an audience, and one of the nicest things anyone said to me after we got back was, “Andrew, reading those emails was like sitting in this chair, talking with you.” Especially since that is what I was aiming for.
But it also taught me two other powerful lessons.
You need to tell your story, and
Someone wants to hear it.