“Is He One of Our Ancestors?”

Tea with Strangers. Open-air Chinese tea ceremonies with strangers around the world.

“I have always been attracted to China, its culture, literature. Don’t know why. And my surname is Janshyan, only members of our family bear this surname. So, one day I purchased a travel book for my children. And in this book, we read that if Marco Polo was the one who introduced China to the Europeans, then Europe was introduced to the Chinese by a certain Janshyan*, a courtier of one of the Chinese emperors. “Is he possibly one of our ancestors?” I told my children. And maybe that’s the reason why I’m so attracted to China?

And recently, my daughter who just graduated from the university, told me she wants to continue her education abroad. She said she’s considering Saudi Arabia, but I said no. Europe? Europe’s no less of a Saudi Arabia these days, I told her. And after a certain period of time, she comes to me and says, “Will you let me study in China?” I agreed, but told her she will have to learn Chinese and explore the Chinese civilization as much as possible. It’s intriguing how my daughter, too, got attracted to China and its culture. And today we’re drinking Chinese tea here.”

*We’re not sure if it’s the actual name of that person. The closest we could find is the Zhang Qian, a Chinese official and diplomat who served as an imperial envoy to the world outside of China in the 2nd century BC, during the time of the Han dynasty.

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