Tiananmen football and the international language

  1. One of our favorite days on our journey. After class we walked to the infamous Tiananmen Square. As usual, Alexander had the world soccer ball attached to his hip like a barnacle.

Would the military presence stop us? What would the everyday Chinese people do and think? Would they scowl?

It sure didn’t take long to find out. We cautiously began kicking our soccer ball between us off to the side of the massive square. A soldier stood rigidly nearby. As we passed, I glanced at him and could swear I saw a slightly up turned smile. As Allie kicked me the ball, I ran by him and looked eye to eye. He WINKED!!!


Allie and I started looking for ‘playuhs’. From 4 years to 94, people wanted to be included. Not overtly mind you. The Chinese people are reserved and cautious of foreigners. But make eye contact and pass? You find a 20 year old with a little bit of skills. They stay and play then get on their way. An old lady that finds the ball at her feet, kicks the ball back. A baby who laughs and points. A pass, a smile, and always pure joy.

Kick someone a ball, get a pass back, and a huge smile from the unlikliest places. EVERYONE wants to be invited and included, the world over. Why can’t that be a rule. World leaders must bring a soccer ball to all world meetings, and be required to play for a day before they head off to ruin it for the rest of us?

(Below: Chinese girls watching, giggling, taking photos…and eventually playing, then autographing our “world ball”. Priceless.)

Seems wherever we go, that ball brings smiles for miles. Our big test yet were the police and military in Tiananmen Square.

But every so often…the sign says “no”

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