The International Center of New York has a wonderful program for foreign visitors and immigrants to improve their English language skills, and for native speakers to meet these newcomers. I spent a lot of time there holding English conversations and teaching basic computer skills. I loved meeting so many people from other countries. Shirley Sun was my favorite conversation partner. We spent time together at the Center, we ate dim sum together, we went to the Met, the Cloisters, the American Indian Museum in Battery Park. We did a Story Corps recording together. Shirley came from China about 3 years ago. She loved to travel and told me about all of the places she went to in the US before she came to New York. When she was in her teens she visited 15 cities in China during the Cultural Revolution. Probably because her English was not very good, I always felt a sense of mystery about her. I’m sure there was much more she could tell. I’ve been reading Wild Swans, about the lives of three Chinese women, from bound feet to Mao. Maybe I can understand a little more about Shirley Sun.
I saw Shirley just before I moved to Pittsburgh. I promised to call her, but I was very busy because things were finally moving very fast. When I tried to call her after I got settled her phone was disconnected. I had two emails, three phone numbers for her and two for her friend Sally. None of them worked. I feel very bad; I don’t want to lose Shirley Sun. Next month, when I go to New York, I will try to find her, although I’m not sure where to begin.