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Dalian will always be my second hometown

By Tyler Christler | | Updated: 2017-11-20 17:28

Most people complain that their once-spectacular city has since taken a turn for the worse over the years. People love to focus on the negative. Perhaps that’s just part of human nature. On the contrary, my report on Dalian happens to be quite the opposite. So if you’re looking to read another venting session from another downer of a foreigner in China, you can stop reading right now.

Dalian has seen its challenges. Since my arrival in 2008, there have been some complaints about the ongoing construction, building a bridge that obstructs the open ocean view from Xinghai Square, and the annoyances of building a subway system from scratch. Little did people know, and many have yet to admit, that these challenges resulted in many positives. The new construction has given the city a much needed facelift, the bridge is absolutely gorgeous (especially at night), and the new subway system has immensely added value by cutting down on commute times and reducing pollution as there is now less of a need to get around by car. So, these once seemingly adverse events have since proven to be remarkably positive. On top of all that, Dalian has put a considerable amount of time, energy and money into supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses to enter the market. This effort was sorely needed as Dalian has always been known as an amazing place to live and grow old, but never really as a place to excel or grow in the business world. Things are changing.

I, myself, take great pride in Dalian as I have lived here for the majority of my adult life. Arriving in May of 2008 at the age of 24, I now find myself to be rapidly approaching a decade in this beautiful city and truly regard it as my second hometown.

Since very early on in my life, my family has always tried to find ways to give back, be it through the giving of time or financially, to the community we live in. There are always people everywhere in this world who are in need of a helping hand. Our son is a bit too young (11 months old) to help others, but his mother and I are regularly involved in giving our time to support different organizations, ranging from raising money for autistic children, raising awareness and donating money to help abandoned animals, and spending time and playing a small role in the education process for local orphans.

My most moving experience in this country to date occurred while working with the kids at the local orphanage. I’m not sure about the conditions of the orphanages in America, but the one here in Dalian has a very nice set up. However, like any orphanage, you will come across some stories that will make your heart cry.

Just last week while playing with a group of about 12 kids, I noticed that there were two newcomers. Curious about their background, I asked the nurse where they had come from and what their situation was. She didn’t know much, other than that they were picked up from a nearby town about two hours away. Not five minutes into playing with the newly arrived brother and sister, I came to find out directly from the six-year-old boy that he and his three-year-old sister had recently lost their mother and were estranged from their older sister. I didn’t pry to find out more details, but hopefully this story opens your eyes a bit to what sort of hand some people in this world have been dealt. It’s stories like this that can really put everything into perspective. As well, I told it to show you that you don’t necessarily need money to give back and at least try to make a positive impact on someone else’s life. Working with the kids has, without a doubt, strengthened my relationship and connection with this city.

No matter where our family ends up in the future, Dalian will always be my second hometown. I hope that I can leave it in a better place than when I first came.

Tyler came to China in 2008. Planned on staying for two years, now coming up on ten. Passionate about his family, helping Chinese students get into their dream schools in America, and producing funny content online that makes people laugh.

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not represent the views of China Daily and China Daily website.

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