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The Road Less Traveled

This photo was taken on a visit to see my friend William who left China in the early nineties and ended up on this farm in Northern Indiana. William was very active in the Democracy movement that ended twenty years ago on June 4, 1989 in the massacre in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. While the whole student movement knocked me off my feet, for William it was much more immediate. He was the main English speaking television announcer in Shenyang, then a city of five million. He and his sister, who was in the Red Army, were both active in the movement. They had previous knowledge that events were about to shake down and his sister procured an army helicopter to fly him from Beijing to Shenyang to inform the students there of what was likely to happen in Beijing.


Because of his involvement in the movement, William (Yung Yu in China) left the country under the auspices of the Seventh Day Adventists and capitalized on his connections with the Mennonites in China to come to the states and study at the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries here in Elkhart, Indiana. It was not long till I met him through several different people that knew of my interest in the situation in China. He was soon disillusioned with his studies at the Seminary and they with him. My cousin was working at Notre Dame University at the time and was able to work through an immigration lawyer there to help him get political asylum and, eventually, American citizenship. We remained friends and periodically spend time talking about how the world has changed in the ensuing years.


On this walk at his residence on a 90 acre farm near here, we had a long discussion about his recent visit to his homeland. The China he left does not exist anymore and he wonders what it would have been like to have stayed there. He said that when he left teachers were making about $40./month. Now, the job he once had teaching pays more like $4000/Month. His sister asked him what kind of car he drives and when he gave the modest model, she was surprised that he was not able to drive a BMW like they did!


William is still very active in politics and showed me pictures of himself with President Clinton, who he admired immensely, and said that he had met presidential candidate, Barack Obama, who was not interested in having himself photographed with every aggressive person that asked for it!


And that, my friends, is what I see when I look at this picture.

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Taken on April 11, 2009