I was born into a multicultural, multilingual, extremely eccentric family, so it was only natural I would think it a good idea to leave the states at 18 to live in China for 28 years. Fortunately, my choice worked out well–it doesn't always. Along with having no shortage of bad teachers excited to make money and fame at the expense of the foreigner, I met three great teachers who took me beyond the PRC and into the heart of the Chinese arts.

Each was painfully aware that the true power within the Chinese arts was dying, each angry that modern Chinese had no understanding of the depths of their own culture, and each heartbroken that their own children simply did not have what it took to carry on their knowledge. The bittersweet reality for all of us was that the one person who cared to document and train with literally everything he had was an American. What I lost in not being Chinese, I gained in not being Chinese. Certainly some things were never available to me as a foreigner, but then again none of my teachers had to follow the social mores which would have been forced upon them if I was Chinese.

My advice to all who wish to learn as I did: understand that there is no perfect, and maximize the good of your situation while minimizing the bad–there will always be both and whichever we dwell on will be what marks us. That, and smile. Being good natured has opened more doors for me than anything else ever has.