Welcome to our family Blog!
For years we have wanted to live internationally, specifically in China! We had looked for jobs that would give us that opportunity but we were limited by our lack of Chinese language skills! No one was looking for “someone who loved China, but who couldn’t communicate in Chinese.”
So, we did what we thought was “the best we could do.” We started living to “travel.” We got 100% out of debt, sold most of our worldly belongings and started spending our money on experiences instead of stuff.
In 2010 we spent a glorious 10 weeks in China, reintroducing our children to their home, language, culture, food and what it meant to “give back.” It quickly became clear to us that this was far better than the “2 week tourist experience,” but it also made it very clear to us that more time was needed!
We want our children to know and be enthusiastic about China. We desire that they “not feel like tourists” in the country of their birth. This means that they need to spend a significant part of their lives in China, speaking the language, eating the food, learning about the culture and building friendships. Rather than spend our vacation dollars on sightseeing, we prefer to spend them living and learning amongst the people.~~From our family charter, 2009
As soon we returned, we decided that we needed to be even more prepared to make the jump. In the current economy, jobs were being lost at a fantastic rate. What if we were laid off? We started saving like crazy! Every dime went towards the “emergency fund.” We delayed further travel and cut every last expense we could think of. It wasn’t too long before Eric’s job was eliminated, but the company didn’t let him go. They liked him and so they kept paying us and kept him busy on various key (high visibility) projects. In August 2011 we accepted an opportunity, with only three weeks notice, to move to Ulaanbaatar, Outer Mongolia.
Our contract in Mongolia was only for 6 months and it ended quickly! We loved having a new experience, we LOVED the people of Mongolia, but it wasn’t exactly what we wanted. Our girls were having “the international experience,” but we weren’t achieving our goals. So, when when we were given the choice of extending our contract in Mongolia or returning to SLC, we chose neither. We made the choice at that moment to make the jump to China.
We had approximately 2 years worth of living expenses in the bank by this point, and we decided that if we were going to give this opportunity to our girls, it was the time to do it because we didn’t have any major expenses in the U.S., our children were growing up in front of our eyes (esp. our oldest) and we needed to learn Chinese if we wanted to live in China!
2012 was an amazing year! We lived for one full year in Nanjing, China. Eric and Bella attended the full-time language program at Nanjing University for two semesters. At the end of our first year we spoke with many recruiters and as it turned out, most expat companies are not looking for employees within China. They want to hire and bring their own people over. Discouraged, we decided that with the funds we had left in the bank, we’d better head back home and look for a job. After a short stop in Hong Kong for temple work and to experience Disney Hong Kong, we grabbed a flight back to the U.S.
Since being home some amazing things have happened. Bella was able to take the AP Chinese exam (scored 4) and was accepted to BYU Provo as a concurrent student. She finished her first semester at BYU with a 4.0! She currently has some amazing projects under her belt that are moving forward and she is continuing her college studies via independent study while she follows us around the country until she leaves for her mission.
Eric has found work at a consulting company and they are keeping him very busy. In his free time he continues to study Chinese and look for his dream job in China. We are still determined to make it back.
The littles continue to study Chinese at home. They have the best teacher! (Bella!) She works individually with each of them every day using a program called Better Chinese and by reading with them out of the story books we were able to collect while living in China. Anne also continues to gather internet resources for the family to use and has listed them here for our family and friends: Learn Chinese With Us.
We still believe we are creating our own future, but managing to pay for college and missions for our kids and save for our future at the same time. We have some amazing trips and adventures planned, even though we are State side, so continue to stay tuned. We still believe in giving ourselves and our children the opportunity to “deeper, broader, faster and global.”