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China comes to me every time I hear the sound of traffic on wet pavement. Then, I long for China, as hard as that time was. I went to China because I wasn’t happy in America. I though China might cure my unhappiness – a silly idea, completely unrealistic. But it worked. I went to China because I was sick and tired of America and all of its problems, of race and raging capitalism, of the loss of my neighborhood to drug dealers, the loss of my parents to old age and death.

But when I got to China, it was not the slow-moving, tai chi peace place I had imagined. It was a frantic, emerging, economic world power– just what I’d been trying to get away from.

I landed in 1998 and took a teaching job in Shenzhen. Eventually, new friends took me traveling to Shanghai, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Xi’an and finally, Urumqi in Xinjiang province. Shenzhen and Urumqi are where I found the story I’m telling here.

I had no idea before I went that there are Muslims in China. I certainly didn’t know what it would mean to spend time with Muslims.
All I had wanted was a break from America; it had failed me and my neighbors in north Minneapolis in a big way. I was mad and hurt, so I ran away to China. You never know what you’re going to find when you run away. I found the next century.

• SYNOPSIS
• CHAPTER 1
• CHAPTER 2
Prologue

© 2008 Reva Rasmussen 
All rights reserved.

Photo by China Winson at www.skyscrapercity.com