My China Experience and A Chinese Chop, by Charlayne Stone

Excerpts From Letters To Xiaoning

I just returned from a visit to China (Beijing, Xi'an and Kunming), but 12 days just wasn't long enough to learn as much as I'd like. I was enthralled by China's beauty, culture, and the richness of its history. I so enjoyed meeting the people; I'm sure my clumsy attempts at trying to learn some of the language and my endless questions afforded them much amusement!

Our delegation was sponsored by People-To-People Ambassador Programs. There were 28 of us, all so excited to participate in this wonderful opportunity to meet the people there, and to learn about the culture. It was the experience of a lifetime for us all, believe me. Our delegation was comprised of auditing professionals from all over the world: Hungary, the USA, Sweden, Switzerland, South Africa, and Australia. When we met with our Chinese counterparts, it was truly a global experience. I'm proud to say we now consider our Chinese counterparts as our friends. We are all keeping in touch by emails and letters.

All of us in the delegation have agreed that most people in our various countries really have little or no realistic idea of the beauty of the country, its culture and its people. I know that both of our cultures have heard a lot of stories that do not truly represent our people here in the United States, or in China. Until our people get to hear other stories (on both sides) from those of us that have actually visited and met each other, they will go on believing those misconceptions. It's time we all moved toward each other in friendship, not in mistrust and misunderstanding

I'm not really sure at what age I began to believe at some deep level that I would never be able to "hear" the words of whoever created me. As a child, I couldn't understand the words and meanings of adults; as an adult, many languages and hidden meanings made it just as difficult. It made sense to me that everything around me that had been created by the same being offered lessons of common understanding, to all who would take the time to study them. So I live my life studying things around me...the things occurring naturally: animals, the land, the seasonal cycles..and try to apply the lessons to my life; the things that objects that man builds, to learn the things he's trying to say to all of us; everything can teach. The articles that seem to be common between us all seem also to teach similar things to all of us, and can be understood by the youngest child, the oldest adult, and transcends any language. Truth is truth...there is no language or cultural barrier.

So I try to select words, gifts, actions with people that will reach a deeper level so that they will be understood. Especially when simple words don't convey the meaning. Simple words can be forgotten over the years, but the symbol will always be there to remind them (and you).

I saw the chops in China. I thought that would be a great gift for my grandson - Collin, who is only 6 year old. Collin and I share a very special bond. We love rocks and minerals of all kinds...we "rock hunt" together whever I visit, and I send him some from everywhere I go. Plus, he loves his karate so much, and I want to encourage his determination and spirit. That, and I have introduced him to my love of the symbolism of animals; he'll understand the meaning of his name and the chop.

The stone itself represents a solid foundation, something that will remain throughout the years. Even chipped or broken, what remains is still solid and remains beautiful, no matter what form it takes. The fact that my grandson's name will be carved into the rock, and is a GOOD name (that Xiaoning gave), says that he can remain this person if he chooses...even chipped or broken by life. Because his name is in his native language and another means he will always have this connection to another culture and part of the world, no matter how far the distance...that he should strengthen this connection, and keep it as solid as the rock into which it is carved.  The animal chosen will form and keep alive the principles taught by the spirit of that animal, and connect him to the principle represented by that animal in his martial arts. Each time he stamps his name with his chop, it will at some level reinforce these connections, and remind him of his connections with me also, even though he may never be able to put all these symbols into words. And that is the whole be reminded of all these symbols without the limitation of the spoken word.

Thank you SO much for the Chinese name you have given Collin. It's perfect! He will be so proud. This gift will mean so much more, because of the thought you have given to it also. You brought tears to my eyes. I can just imagine his reaction when he opens his gift at Christmas, and reads the explanation enclosed. I'm sad I won't be there to see it; he lives far from here and we don't get to spend many holidays together....but we'll be together on the phone when he opens it.

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I wanted to share with you my wonderful Christmas experience. I was lucky enough to be able to actually have an early Christmas with Collin. I flew down in early December, and we had our Christmas then, so I got to be there when he opened his chop. He was puzzled at first, and then his excitementgrew as I began to tell him the meanings behind his gift. He was absolutely enthralled with the story of what chops mean to those in China, and very proud to have one of his so unique, that no other will be made exactly like it. He's also very proud to have his own unique name in Chinese also. He tells everyone now that his "real" name is the Bear Who Overcomes All in the Forest. And it makes perfect sense to a child that he has the spirit of a tiger inside him, to call on whenever he is scared or lonely or needs extra strength. I did have to laugh the following day when he was playing a video game on the computer by himself, and I heard him say to himself: "C'mon Tiger..Help me out a little here!" It was important to him then..I'm sure as he grows older he'll learn to call on Tiger spirit for more serious reasons!

I also wanted to thank you SO much for the beautiful Christmas stockings! I wasn't home until after Christmas, so didn't actually get them until then..but I hung them anyway. Christmas is of the heart, not the calendar. And everyone loved the exquisite ornaments! I learned that making them is a real art in itself..they are painstakingly painted on the INSIDE, through the top, rather than on the outside! My friends were so happy to receive them.

Thank you again for your contributions to a wonderful Christmas experience for my grandson and I that we'll never forget. I treasure your friendship, and look forward to more wonderful shopping on ChinaSprout!

Yours most sincerely,

To purchase our chops  click here.