Expat Ethos

So here’s the story. W lives and works in 廈門 Xiamen, but since it was just Spring Festival he and his family were spending the long break in nearby Vietnam. While they were in Vietnam, the corona virus outbreak happened in China, and so now they were stuck outside of China due to the medical travel ban. W’s family are US citizens, and W himself is an Aussie holding a Permanent Resident Card in the US. But since they hadn’t been planning on returning to LA, he had left his green card in his apartment in Xiamen. Without the document, he had little chance of returning to LA.

Here’s the plan he came up with; they contacted the babysitter back in Xiamen, who contacted the landlord and asked for a spare key. She entered the apartment, found the document, and then mailed it to Taipei, where Aussie W and the family would stop on a layover. The only problem was that W doesn’t know anyone in Taipei. He put a post on FB saying, basically, does anyone have a trusted contact in Taipei who can take delivery of this important immigration document?

I connected W to Kiwi J over messenger and of course J agreed and they figured it out. Aussie W and the family flew to Taipei on their way to LA. W and J met up, W got his document back, and I assume there was beer. I was happy be a small part of this story, and for my part I requested a selfie.

When I was living in Shanghai, there was a strong but unspoken ethos that expats had to take care of each other, even if we were all from different countries. So I feel like this green card adventure was a very easy and common expat interaction, not even that remarkable within the community. It would have been more of an ordeal if it had all happened in Seattle; if I had asked my Seattle baby sitter to contact my Seattle landlord, enter my apartment, find a document, mail it to a complete stranger that someone I knew ten years ago had connected me with; it would be sketchy at best; too much to ask for all involved. It probably wouldn’t have ended in a beer and a selfie.

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