Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.
— Chinese proverb

My China trip came just a few weeks after arriving back home from my 3-month stint in Uganda. Though traveling to China had already been in my plans for some time, the trip felt compulsive. The truth is, I went too soon.

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I wasn’t ready to take on China. My spirit was still in Africa and there was this feeling of being yanked from one place and thrown into another. But it was me who did all the yanking and pulling. I think it was too hard for me to be back at home in NY after such a glorious trip in Africa. I missed the children I’d bonded to at the orphanage I’d volunteered at five days a week. The people, the home I lived in, my daily life in the land I’d fallen in love with. China was a way for me to not miss it as much and dive into another culture and people.

My cousin from New York lived in Shanghai and I missed her dearly. I stayed with her during my three weeks and even though we caught up on our adventures and relationships, I still felt this emptiness that was unavoidable through out my entire stay. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. It was just bad timing.

When I look through the photographs from the trip, I can see the sadness I felt. I struggled picking up my camera and finding the inspiration I needed to capture the moments. I did manage to do a photoshoot for Hazel and Marie, a pearl accessories line based in Shanghai. And I felt lucky to see my cousin in her element, as she showed me pieces she created for the fashion brand that brought her to Shanghai four years prior. It was fascinating to see her speak fluent Mandarin to these Chinese people who were amazed that this beautiful brown skin girl, American-born with Jamaican roots, could speak their language.

China was something different, unlike any place I’d ever been before. I hope to go back one day and do it all over again.