Grapevine Online Exclusive

Published October 2013.

At Home in the World

A woman from the American South travels to Beijing and celebrates her AA birthday

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to travel with my business school class to Beijing, for a 10-day class in International Business. The day we arrived was my AA birthday, and I was looking forward to attending a meeting to celebrate. I had done my research in advance, and knew that there was a meeting that night not too far from my hotel. I broke my anonymity with my professor so that I would be permitted to leave the group and go off on my own.

Our tour guide arranged a taxi for me, and the driver dropped me off at Poly Plaza which was supposedly near my AA meeting place. In fact, it was close, but confusing to find. I spent 20 minutes or so walking around trying to find the right building. I began to get a little scared, since I was in a foreign country and could not speak Chinese. I have learned that young people the world over often learn English as a second language, especially in the larger cities, so I finally stopped a young woman on a bicycle to ask directions.

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