confuse friends and relatives by calling several places "home," including China, Ohio
and South Carolina! Some people say that "Home is where your stuff is" and
others say "Home is where your friends are," and we have
stuff and friends in all of these places! Before we moved to China, Vivian had always lived in
SC. Michael moved there in 1987 (from Beijing) to attend graduate
school (see below). In 1988 he met Vivian at church and they married in
1989. Andrew and Beth were born in SC, too.
This is the state capital
building of South Carolina. The state population is 4.5 million (2009
estimate). To put that in perspective, there are 50% more people in
Kunming (our most recent home in China) than there are in in this southern state! But SC is
probably more diverse than Kunming, because people originally from over
100 nations live there. This diversity is celebrated annually during the
Columbia International Festival (of which, Michael was Assistant
Director for its first five years).
Fun population facts (2005, in millions;
www.census.gov): NY 18.7; LA 13; Chicago 9.4; Philly 5.8; Miami 5.4; Wash
DC 5.2; Atlanta 5
Columbia, South Carolina (2004). The City We Left Behind.
Columbia is the capital and biggest city in SC, with a population of 0.13 million
(pretty tiny by Chinese standards!). There are only four other cities with
more than 50,000 people in this state.
Most American cities are small by Chinese standards. Less than
14% of the US population live in the 34 "big cities" with official
populations of over 500,000 (2009 data). By contrast, Kunming is
China's 20th largest city, with a population of about seven million. In
2010, Chongqing claimed over 30 million people (with 15 million in the
central city), making it China's biggest megalopolis.
(left) Our SC home (in West Columbia)
had three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a large living
room, and a large kitchen/dining room that opens to the den. We
sold it before moving to China in 2000 (i.e., we got a new owner to pay
the bank the money we borrowed to buy it; we had only lived there five
miss the apple tree in our front yard, our quiet neighborhood, and the pet
rabbit we kept in our fenced back yard, but at
least we don't have to mow the grass or rake pinestraw anymore!
(Center) This is
where Vivian grew up: her parents' house in Cayce, South Carolina (just
over the bridge from Columbia). (Right) This photo shows one of the
many "mill houses" in Columbia--a duplex (two families living side by side
in one building) built for people who worked in the textile mills (see the
(Below right) You can see Vivian's sister Maxine and her husband in front
of their house in central South Carolina.
these pretty photos in February 2010 on a short visit. It rarely snows in
Columbia (at least, not more than a light snow "dust"), but this storm
dropped over half a foot (18 cm) of snow.
of South Carolina's football stadium is in the background, with the "State
Fair" in the foreground. The "fair" comes for about two weeks, once per
year. The "fairgrounds" is a large complex that hosts many popular events,
Columbia International Festival
(Above) Maxine's husband
is a farmer, among other things; these two antique tractors (in his yard)
looked very nice in the snow. Below, you can see Maxine's
house in more typical South Carolina weather.
Columbia's City Hall, where Vivian
worked as City Clerk. She had served the City of Columbia for 28 years
before moving to China. While her colleagues were sad to see her leave,
they were happy to be sending such an outstanding representative to serve
the people of China.
many South Carolinians think of China they think of this--an abandoned
textile mill. For generations, thousands of workers in the Columbia area
had jobs related to making fabric, but in the last part of the 20th
century, most of those jobs moved to China, leaving a lot of people to
find a new way to make a living.
has several nice parks where families can enjoy Carolina's mild weather
(and hot summers).
This water playground is in one of the newer parks, called Saluda Shoals
(built in the early 2000s).
This group of classmates (including Michael, May
1999) is happy because they finally graduated from
Columbia International University with their Masters Degrees,
majoring in TEFL
(Teaching English as a Foreign Language). The photo on the right
shows the magazine section of the library, which is also a great
place to study. It is in the CIU library (bottom left), which is
attached to the media/computer center (center photo). Since most
students have their own computers, there aren't many computers at
the computer center (compared to a "net bar" in China). The student center and cafeteria (bottom right) is near
the library. The bottom floor has a bookstore, mailboxes, game and
TV areas, and offices.
L.T. Hanna high school
is in the hilly upstate. Did you read the sign? "Radio" is a person who is rather famous in SC
because of a great movie made about him a few years ago. In addition to the
tree-covered "blue mountains" of NW South Carolina, the state has a long coastline on
the Atlantic ocean with lots of beautiful beaches. I took the photos below
in a natural park (swamp/marshland) near the southeastern coast. The
alligators on the right hope that park guests can't read. They are always
looking for a handout (or a hand out!).
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