Local engaged couple Makenzie Green and Jack Evans recently returned from a long stay in China.
Both students at the University of Central Arkansas, Green and Evans traveled to China with the Second Baptist Church college ministry, and they were part of a smaller group that stayed an extra month. The entire trip lasted from June 4-July 22.
The students took part in a cultural exchange, taking several classes at a Chinese university. They learned calligraphy, traditional Chinese music on a Chinese flute, and they even did a little Kung Fu.
While at the university, they worked toward making friends with the Chinese students in hopes of sharing their faith. They said the students were very welcoming toward foreigners, and they made friends easily.
“We played basketball with them,” Green said. “They think Americans are just awesome at basketball, but I’m terrible. They always beat us.”
Evans said, “I got to connect with a large group of students from the English department. A lot of them are from poor families. Their parents are poor farmers or industrial workers that live on the outskirts of the city. On the outskirts it’s villages, like mud-brick. Farm after farm after farm.”
He added, “They love basketball. They’re pretty similar — just a group of guys that like sports and video games and have hard lives. They all desire to come to America, but most of them don’t think they can get out. They just think they’ll teach English in China. They’re all kind, inviting and open.”
Green said, “They love giving gifts. If you compliment them on anything, they will take it off and give it to you. They’re so selfless. They want to give you everything.”
In addition to making friends at the university, the group also went to mosques every day and prayed for people to walk up to them and start conversations. They said this actually happened, as it was some people’s first time to see an American. Sometimes they were able to share their faith during these conversations as well.
Green was on her third trip to China. She said, “My first time I met a girl whose English name was Sophia. She was really closed off to Christianity. Last year she was a little more open. This year she and her friend Mary both accepted. That was an incredible feeling.”
The group did some sightseeing, but they were nowhere near the Great Wall, they said. They did watch a traditional tea ceremony and, thanks to a wealthy friend they made, sampled some $5,000 tea. They saw areas where street markets sold meat in the open air; however, they said in the more affluent part of the city, there was a Wal-Mart.
The couple still keep in touch with the friends they made in China. The Chinese government does not allow Facebook or Google, but they are able to chat through an app called QQ, Green said.
Green and Evans will be married Oct. 11. She is a journalism major with an emphasis in photography and an English minor at UCA and is employed at Art on the Green. He is a digital filmmaking major at UCA.
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