by Sara M
On Friday March 12, Da Chen, A New York Times best-selling author, came to speak to students in the Little Theater. Chen grew up in “the belly button of China,” during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. The books he writes are about his experiences in China during a time of violence and cruelty. His main focus was not to talk about his books, and although he talked a good amount about his life in China, the meaning of his presentation was a much deeper one.
He started off by introducing his flute, which he played after a bit of speaking. While telling his story Chen said, “I asked my father, ‘Will you buy me a musical instrument?’ My father didn’t have much money, but that day he smiles and said ‘Yes, I am going to buy you a musical instrument.” His father taught him how to play the flute, which he played for everyone, and it also became evident that he also has a deep love for music as well as writing.
After playing the flute he talked about how he knew he wanted to be a writer, he said, “ There is a point in everyone’s life, that you will find out later on, that will destine you to be who you are. It is important to find out who you are, and it took me a while.”
Throughout the presentation he made it very clear that he believes the United States to be the greatest nation; and it was also very clear that he has a very good sense of humor. He showed both of these things when he said, “This is the greatest nation and it has a great heart; don’t let anyone tell you any different-especially not the French. When people tell me that America is not the best I say shut up.”
He then went in to more serious matters. He told about when he was nine and saw a man being hung by his thumbs on the ceiling of a church with men beating him; and that man was his father. “I was a coward, I didn’t defend him. I wish I did now; I wish I was Spiderman and could have gone in there and kicked those guys’ butts.”
It would be comforting to think things like this in China have ended completely, but according to Chen they have not. He said “You think China is fine now, but don’t be fooled. If you say one word about overthrowing the government, or about communism being bad they will throw you in a jail tomorrow.”
Chen then talked about a subject relating completely to his audience, other teenager in China. He told about his niece who is only about fifteen and is already working full time at a Nike factory, but she is still extremely happy according to him. Now talking about American teenagers he said, “You guys are taken from your houses by a yellow bus that I call a limousine. You may moan and say it’s smelly, but you have it good.”
Chen told us how good we all really do have it here, he said, “A great life is not defined by the money you make, but a great life is defined by doing what you do to help other people. Life is a great circle of harmony, if you reach out to the world, they will reach out to you.”