Today I'm moving back to the United State of America. Goodbye, China, and thank you for all of the lovely memories.
Today represents exactly five years since I arrive in China on 2011-July-11. I was initially offered a three year assignment by my company which included a promotion and other incentives. I fell in love with the people and enjoyed a good life, and so when asked to extend my stay for another two years, I jumped at the opportunity.
Unlike previous foreign work where I was assigned to a single project of no more than a year or two duration, China became my home. I’ve lived in Canada for a year, as well as in Mexico three times accounting for 3.5 years, and there’s a big difference between taking what will fit in my car and having my company pack a 40 foot sea container for me.
While it’s reassuring to have your stuff, it’s not what truly makes a home, though. Although Ontario, Canada and its people are virtually identical to Michigan, and as much as I love Mexico and its people, they were never really homes to me in the sense that China was.
When launching a new car, you’re there to do a job, to be an expert, and to do it efficiently and then GTFO. Everyone knows you’re there but would prefer to be home, and everyone knows that it’s just a job, and will be over fairly quickly.
Formally relocating to another country, though, is much different. The people have different expectations, that is, they know that you’re one of them. You’re there to offer leadership, experience, and training. You’re not an outsider, but a part of the team. You’re one of them, and also part of the community, and that really, really makes it a real home.
And leaving home is sad.
On the other hand, being sent home is also a mark of success. I succeeded in my mission, and the group I left behind has the competencies to ensure that the products that we build in China for the Chinese are just as safe and have the same quality as the products we build in other markets.
Returning home to Southeast Michigan also affords new opportunities. Aside from the next big thing in my career, I look forward to clean air, water, and food, as well as being able to speak English (or Spanish, in the right spots!). I can’t wait to take advantage of each of Michigan’s four, unique seasons, and to catch a game at the Joe Louis Arena again (it will be the Red Wings’ last year playing there before moving to Pizza! Pizza! stadium).
I can’t say that I love the Chinese government, but I love China and the Chinese people. I will miss you, China. So long, and thanks for all the fish.