Market day in Vietnam By Tiffany Glass...


January 16, 2000


Market day in Vietnam

By Tiffany Glass, Phoenix, Md.

This shot of a young woman with a broken arm commissioning a water taxi to take her to the town's market in Hoi An, Vietnam, was taken at sunset when much of the population begins moving about after the day's heat has subsided. Conical hats worn by both city dwellers and rice farmers aid in shading faces from the sun.


Language was no barrier

By Penny Ross


A 40-watt bulb hanging from the ceiling was the only illumination reflecting on the dank, pre-form concrete walls of the foreign students dormitory. It was 2 a.m., raining hard, and we were exhausted after a nonstop flight from New York. My first thought was, "Penny, what did you get yourself in to?" This was the introduction to my adventure as a student at Beijing's Normal University in the summer of 1985.

Sleeping on boards with straw mattresses, we had only a fan for comfort from the hot, humid nights (much like a summer in Baltimore). We lacked Western toilet facilities, and the shower-stall walls were covered in mildew. Even to brush our teeth we had to boil water.

But then, there were the people. Oh yes, the people. They smiled at us. They welcomed us like children in awe of their Western visitors. They unashamedly admired our blond hair and blue eyes, our clothes, sneakers, watches, cameras and the large sums of money we seemed to have. They especially wanted to hear us speak English and would gather in great circles around us in hopes of catching a few words they had learned. Everywhere we were greeted by stares and open arms.

Those who were fortunate enough to complete a middle school education (the Beijing equivalent of high school) and go on to college included English courses in their curriculum. Many city parks had English-speaking corners where students would gather to practice their skills. As we entered the parks, we were besieged by young people wanting to hear and speak English.

It was at just such a park that I met Zhung Mei. Mei was a 16-year-old, third-year middle school student. She was bright and curious, spoke English well and wanted to know all about the United States. We developed a mother-daughter relationship. I met her family, and we continued to maintain contact when I returned home.

I went back to Beijing in the summer of 1987, and Mei and I began to make plans for her to come to the U.S. after she graduated from college. I was packed and ready to return in 1989, when all hell broke loose in Tiananmen Square. By this time, Mei was a sophomore at the People's University, and I knew in my heart that she would be one of the students fighting for democracy in the square.

After a few sleepless nights, fearing for her safety, I was able to contact her by fax. Now my goal was to get her out of China immediately. After three months of wheeling and dealing with the Chinese and American governments, Mei arrived in the United States Sept. 2, and started her junior year of college Sept. 5.

She has since earned her M.B.A., married and become the proud mother of a little girl, Alisha. I, of course, am surrogate grandma, giving me a total of eight grandchildren. Won't we have an interesting story to tell Alisha of how she came to have an American grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins?

Penny Ross lives in Havre de Grace.


Where is your favorite place to see the sun rise or set?

Panama Canal

Judy Volkman, Baltimore

"Definitely from the balcony of a cruise ship! This was taken in the western Caribbean on a cruise through the Panama Canal. What a thrill to see the sun finally come into view."


Barbara Parker, Worton

"My favorite sunrise happens in the Wind River Canyon of Wyoming. Waiting for the sun to rise is a breathless experience; the moment the light touches the canyon, the walls flare pumpkin-orange, igniting the river. It is a sense of being where life began: ancient, lonely and sacred."

British Virgin Islands

Mike Szimanski, Baltimore

"With all of the spectacular daytime activities the Caribbean offers, it's hard to see how the approaching nighttime could compete. But it does. Spectacular sunsets blaze across the Caribbean Sea and the Sir Francis Drake Channel and onto the aptly named hotel hideaway Fort Recovery. The resort, located on Tortola, comes to a standstill as everyone watches."

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