Abstract: In many journals and field notes I talk about Dama, my host grandmother. But how well do you really know her? In this field note I interviewed her! Learn what her real name is, who belongs to her family, what are her hobbies, and where she has traveled! She even has things to tell you!
I interviewed my host grandmother Dama. She is a 65-year old lady, who has raised two children to be the best they can be. She now has two grandchildren: Her grandson lives in Beijing with his parents and her granddaughter lives in Las Vegas with her parents. Dama has lived in Beijing for twenty years. Before Beijing she lived in her hometown, Guilin. I want to tell you more about her, because over these past two and a half months, I have been living with her and she has really inspired me to be the best I can be.
What is your full name?
Chen Yao Lun.
I call her Dama, which is like big mom or grandmother.
Where do you live? What is your house like?
Dama lives about 30 minutes from the center of Beijing in a residential neighborhood called Beijing Daxue Yan Bei Yuan. Dama loves the location of her house, because it is very quiet and peaceful. It is very different from the center of the city, which is very noisy. Her neighborhood is very beautiful, because it is close to a park and has many trees and flowers.
I then asked her about her house. She smiled and responded, “Hen hao.” This means “very good.” She is always joking around, so this was one of her many funny comments during the interview. After laughing for a few seconds, she said her house is not too big but it is filled with many great memories. The living room is not too big, but the bedrooms are very roomy. For example, my room has a king size bed, a sofa area, a computer area, and a porch. It is very big!
Dama’s kitchen is also very small but it is enough for one person to cook. When Dama compared Chinese and American kitchens, she said kitchens in the United States are very big and beautiful. But, she said, she is happy with her kitchen because it has enough room for her.
What is your family like?
Dama smiled again and responded, “Hen hao.” Dama has two children, who are both grown up now and live on their own. Her son now lives in Beijing. He lived in Yunnan for two years, but came back to Beijing because he found a job here as a technician. Yunnan is very far from Beijing, on the far west side of China, near India! Dama’s son is married and has a son.
Dama’s daughter lives in Las Vegas, and works as an accountant. Her daughter graduated from an American University, and Dama always tells me her daughter is very smart. She lives with her husband and a daughter. Dama always shows me pictures of her granddaughter! They talk over the phone every night.
How do you get around?
She usually walks or takes the bus. If she wants to go somewhere nearby, she nearly always walks. Dama believes walking is very good for the body. If her destination is far away, she takes the bus. The bus stop is only a block away from her house. It is very convenient!
What types of clothing do you like to wear?
She laughed and told me she likes to wear clothes that are comfortable, and nothing too fancy. She usually wears pants and long sleeved sweaters. Her pants are usually brown or black. When she goes to sleep, she will wear her light blue pajamas. When she goes outside and it is cold, she wears a red jacket and a matching red warm hat. Dama loves to wear her pink and white Nike shoes that she bought when she visited her daughter in Las Vegas last year. She is very proud of her shoes, because she says they are American.
What do you like to do in your free time?
She laughed and said she likes to rest her body. “I like to sleep.” She then said, “I also like to go to the park and exercise a little bit too.” Dama usually goes to the park in the morning from 7:00 am until 9:00 am. At the park she likes to walk and jog a little bit if she can. In the afternoon, she will nap for two or three hours. At night, she likes to watch TV before going to sleep.
What language do you speak and how do you say hello?
Ni Hao is “Hello” in Chinese.
Do you have pets?
Even though she likes pets, Dama does not have any. She says that her house is too small, so there is no room for pets. She joked that her only pet is the one on her wall. In the living room, she has a picture of a dog on the wall that she called her pet.
Have you traveled? Where have you traveled?
Dama has traveled quite a bit. She has visited many other Chinese cities like Wuhan, Fujian, Yunnan and Chongqing. She has also traveled to the United States. She has traveled to Las Vegas and California with her daughter.
What do you do for work?
Now she is too old for an actual job, but Dama jokes that she works at home. She opens her home to American students, who are studying in Beijing, like me. The program pays her rent for using her house. The program also gives her money for food and other things students might use or need.
What would you like to say to the students in the United States?
Dama would like to say that American students should study hard. She says education is very important, because it will give you a good job in the future. She encourages you to study something that you find interesting and work hard to reach your dreams.
She also tells to take care of your health and bodies. She says health is very important in life. So she recommends that you eat healthy things, exercise every week and to rest a lot.
Finally, she says that you should visit Beijing! Beijing is very beautiful and the culture is very interesting. She welcomes all of you guys to explore Beijing and all of China. Even if you can’t come to Beijing, she wants me to tell American students that traveling is important. She says traveling helps you to learn about other people’s culture and traditions, which you might not be able to learn in the United States.