One day, at the beginning of a school term, some Freshman girls came to me and told me they liked to cook but they had no place to cook at school. At that time, our apartment was on the first floor and there were only two apartments on that floor, ours and our manager, Paul’s (friend from Korea). The apartments were both converted classrooms and neither of them had kitchens. The kitchen was at the end of the hall. It was quite big. Against one wall was a stove, sink, long counter with cupboards underneath and the same set up on the opposite wall. One side ours, one side theirs.
So, I talked to Yu Fang (our cook) and to Paul’s wife and we all agreed that the girl’s could come on Friday afternoon and help Yu Fang cook dinner. We set up tables (the kitchen table, Paul’s coffee table and our coffee table) in the hallway to eat on. After eating dinner together, we cleaned up together and then sang songs, told stories, etc…and just had a great fun time Friday evenings. We all loved it and had such fun every Friday. There were always 10–15 girls. One time I asked if we should invite some boys … they said, “No! Boys are too much trouble and they eat too much!” So that was the end of that!
We also celebrated birthdays with them and bought birthday cakes and presents, which usually families don’t do after the children reach college age … And it’s the custom here to smear cake frosting on everyone’s face …
Yu Fang had a friend who had a six-year-old daughter. This little girl told her mom that she had never been to an American’s home and she wanted to go! So, her mom told Yu Fang and, of course, we invited them to the American’s home.
Five of these girls are like grandchildren to us and call us grandma and grandpa, and not just as the respectful term used here for old people.