Category Archives: Traveling

To Leave, Yet to Be Right at Home


To think, soon, I’ll be headed off on a plane headed for a place that I call my home, but that I don’t really remember all that well. It’s been eight or nine years since I was last in Oradea. I’m sure a lot will have changed, that I will see a lot of new things, and probably a lot of old things and be surprised by the change. But I’m soooo excited for it!! Everyone tells me that it will be a huge transition, warns of culture shock and all the rest of it, but I’m not sure that I buy that. People are people wherever in the world they may reside and whatever way that they may think about life; which really serves well to lead me to my next point, namely, that people being people, they still have struggles, hardships, and need someone who will unconditionally love them, care about them, and sacrifice for them. I do too. Everyone does. That’s what home is.

That is why I find it so important to really start at home when it comes to giving and helping, and expand out from there, because really, if I go and help elsewhere without first taking care of the home front, then I am neglecting my greatest and most important responsibility that I, in fact, am meant to take care of and know to take care of better than anyone else. I have been blessed with many opportunities to lead and serve in Tennessee, from activities with my church or nearby churches, to those through school organizations or even that I have personally organized, and I have taken them because I realize that my primary responsibility is to love those around me, realized through the love that my God has first shown me. Some may think that this idea of responsibility is one that conveys burden, but that is a narrow, incomplete view of the grandeur of such a thing. There is also the idea of love, when that which one ought to do is performed not by obligation, but due to convictions grounded in the depths of man’s soul, an idea which contains within the fullest realization of propriety and morality in understanding that obligation by command is only the failure of obligation by love, the understanding that honoring commands in joy is truly the highest honor man can gain, making the desire to love written on my fiery coal of a heart shine forth as the brilliant manifestation of everything I should strive for. And that was a long sentence.

Confession: in writing, there are two things I like to do: 1) Write really long sentences and 2) Not paragraph. Yes, paragraph should be verb. I just have this theory that combining a lot of ideas into one sentence helps to convey a fullness and depth ensuing from the lack of any separation except for possibly breathing and moments of deep thought as one processes several things at once and so makes really fantabulous connections. I believe this theory. I also really want you to understand my trip as understand my life, and thus my trip as I experience it, and I can tell you: I don’t live in paragraphs. There is not a neat, nice, clean stop—ok guys, I walked into Starbucks, new paragraph—no. I walk into Starbucks pondering the wonder of the cool breeze, the destiny of man, what in the world that lady has in her hair, the new topic covered in Physics course, and everything in life, consecutively, of course. There is a beautiful mesh and continuum that is really a fuller understanding of the nature of the art of loving what you have been given and being content in life. I also understand, however, that people like paragraphs. I also realize, hurt my heart though it may, that not everyone loves British literature as much as I do, and thus not everyone likes long sentences either. I know, shocker. It’ll pass, with time. Drink some tea. One thing that you might notice if you <3 English grammar is also that I like to have fun with words as well as English grammar. Call it artistic license. Call it humor. Call it a fullness of expression in the careful, thoughtful transmission of the wee emotions to properly convey the complexity of the experience. I will probably agree with you on all counts. In fact, in efforts to even further agree with the collective experience of the ages, I will probably go back and paragraph.

Truly though, I hope that you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoy writing this. I hope that you enjoy the heights of depth and the depths of the heights of my joy because what you read, and how you read it, and the way in which you understand how I have written this, will help you understand my journey. I have writing and pictures. Yet in these forms is an ocean of feelings, sights, sounds, smells, tastes, people, places, things, wonder, awe, respect, joy, love, and so many other things that I could never express to you if I had a million years to communicate with the express purpose of bringing you along with me. I also don’t want to overwhelm you too much. If I overwhelm you a little bit, that’s ok, because I am kind of overwhelmed as well by all of it, so you feel me. But check this, all of you wonderful Lumos people who in your kindness have condescended so to grace my blog: I know that you all get tired of reading and processing too, and you all have lives outside of this thread in the Internet world of flying photons, so I will probably, most likely, possibly, probably try to keep these at legible lengths. I really am, for your sakes. You know, most professors have a class dedicated to introducing the class, so consider that we are getting on the same page in today’s session on how to light up the world. By the way, smiles help. And I like puns. Beside the point, although we are talking about life.

I just thought that I should try to explain myself a little bit so you don’t feel like you are being thrown over the deep end, landing in the kiddie section and hurting yourself. I want you to feel like you are being thrown in the deep end with the full knowledge of how to swim so that you can truly experience the wonder of the light as it refracts off the surface and penetrates the medium while immersing yourself in the refreshing coolness of life. When I say things on this blog, I want you, reader, to understand that every word has had an immense amount of thought placed in its writing, and oftentimes is a metaphor for life. I also want you to understand that, excepting this past sentence, whenever I write things, especially those things about myself or related to me, I almost always am imagining it, not simply enunciated dramatically (and seriously: without sarcasm), but also in an accent as I am writing it. Just pick several: British, French, German, Italian, Russian, Southern, North African male, Indian, African-American lady, and many more—just make sure to have fun when you do it. One may disagree, but I think I am doing a better job of explaining the depths of myself in the depths of my joy and enthusiasm through this methodology of expression. It just spans cultures, sort of like what I am going to be doing here in Romania.

By knowing the Romanian language and culture, I will be able to love people in a way that they understand it, teach them English in a way that they comprehend it, help people in a way that they need it, and thus be of greatest use here where I am. Whether helping the orphan boy Daniel who lives at the Charis Foundation Center in Santion, Romania by helping him build a house for himself while teaching him English and just being his friend, by teaching English and music to children in an orphanage in Sanmartin and forming relationships with them over a period of 3 months, doing a similar work with a group of Romi children in Tileagd, assisting at one private nursing home in Dumbrava where one family takes care of 160 elderly in four houses by charity, the nursing home oftentimes being populated by residents kicked out of the state-run nursing homes because the state couldn’t afford to take care of them, and so on and so forth. There is a need here. For several years now I have taken care of needs at home in America, in Tennesse, where I grew up, but now I feel led to move on to my next home, and help there as well, because everyone needs love.

I don’t know what may lie ahead of me, though I’ve grown up on stories of place. It’s like I’m a dwarf from the Hobbit, looking towards the Misty Mountains, thinking deep deep deep thoughts of what hidden treasures may lie on the other side of this great mound of Earth. In fact, I am.


Call it pre-travel travel, traveling to traveled places from a long time ago in a land far far away. Call it leaving home, only to go home. I will be with my family in America as well as in Romania. I will get to give and help and serve and love people in Romania just as I did in America and thus I will get to give back to my people from the motherland as well. Really, I’ll still be home because my home has always been where my heart is and my heart is everywhere, with several focal points, of course, but still everywhere because where I can live out love is somewhere that I’d want to be and somewhere where I’d belong. I’m home, going home, and waiting to go home. Riddle me that. I’m not even sure how to express this, I’m just so excited, so enthused, so happy and thankful and grateful to be where I am right now as well as for this wonderful opportunity, thanks to Lumos, to love people.

So, subtle tribute to them,


and I am really looking forward to having you join me on this experience of a lifetime and hearing your thoughts as I overwhelm you with weird metaphors, abstract references, overly long sentences, and everything in life. Why? Because I find that the best things in life tend to be slightly overwhelming if you think about it a little. And this is pretty great. 🙂 So, grace and peace to you all, and here I come!!!



~David Gal-Chiş


One More Day…

Daytona Beach, FL

Daytona Beach, FL

In less than 24 hours, I will be on my way to Germany! I am SO excited and nervous! I have spent this first half of my summer with family in Daytona Beach, so it feels extra surreal that Im not just packing up to go back to Nashville.

Everyone keeps asking me if I’m nervous. I suppose traveling somewhere new is suppose to be nerve racking, but Im just so excited to see my friends- those going on the trip and those living in Germany. I have nothing but happy feelings. The only concern I have at the moment is how im ever going to go back home after such an amazing few months. I am truly blessed.

Also, one thing this trip has already taught me to do-plan. Who knew drawing supplies would weigh so much?

One Week & Two Days Left in China

Last Monday (7/25) and this Wednesday (8/3) I reached more blocks in my Chinese.  It just made the elderly home a little more difficult.  But I am always able to help and still make them happy anyway.  I found a place to develop photos so I could give some of the pictures I took to the elderly and autistic children.  The elderly were especially happy that I did that.  I have never seen someone so happy to have a photo!  Huang Yeye (Huang Grandpa) put the pictures in his hat and would constantly look at them every few minutes.  Then he asked me to put the pictures in his room but Wang Yeye told me that Huang Yeye does not even know where his room is... (he just has a minor mental disability... if I heard right his wife was murdered...but it could just be me mixing up Chinese words!!) I’m so glad that I can make them happy!!  And for the last few days at the elderly home I will be teaching a few of them some English!

At the autistic school Last Tuesday (7/26) I focused on one boy because his emotions were all over the place.  He was hitting, screaming, throwing things, crying and would randomly calm down for a few minutes.  This boy is 2 years old and just began showing symptoms of autism.  His mother was so frustrated but patient for a while.  Once her patience grew short, she slapped him really hard on the face.  This left a horrible bruise.  I encouraged her a lot and told her that she was a great mother either way.  Then that Thursday (7/28) the boy was again not stable.  I went over to try and help.  He was wearing a tank top that day and I saw bruises on every inch of his arms and back.  I am talking about REALLY large bruises that cover whole sections of his body.  It is really hard to see especially since I cannot do anything about it.  This boy seemed to just really want some love.  When one of the teachers gave him a hug he would stop throwing a tantrum and hug the teacher back.  But his father was with him that day and was not patient at all.  At one point he was grabbing his son’s neck like he was going to choke him or something!!  It is so sad.

Some parents will be patient and kind to their disabled child, but there are some really depressed parents that do not treat them the right way.  But then I really have to realize that the parents at this school actually kept their children instead of abandoning them in the first place.  Many mentally or physically disabled children will be abandoned because it is shameful in the Chinese culture.  There are also so many expectations from Chinese parents.  Having a “imperfect” child is a bad “investment.”  Most people can only have one child because of the one-policy in China.  Some will have a second child if they are rich and can pay a crazy amount of money.

After being there for over a month I have JUST now realized that I have really only seen a select few autistic girls.  Most of the children at the school are boys.  It actually makes a lot of sense because many families want a son instead of a daughter.  So having a girl that is autistic is the worst combination and these girls will most likely will be abandoned.  The few girls that I have interacted with at the autistic school are just so precious...  It really makes me think that there are some really great parents at the autistic school and I admire them for not giving into what is “acceptable” in the Chinese society.

Brother and Sister - they are amazing children!

Helping in the Music Class

I have really gotten attached to these children.  The little boy in my previous blog post, who has the paper ring on his ear, will always be wearing them on his ears after his art class.  I think his mom uses it as a reward now – if he can cut these shapes then he gets to wear them on his ears haha...  Another boy only participates in the exercises in music class because he really likes me a lot and will only listen to me.  It is interesting because I have only seen him show any kind of emotion when he around me.  His grandma is so happy to see this!  I have also told some parents, who have children that refuse to talk, about the story in the United States where an autistic boy began speaking with his dog (see previous blog post for the short story).

So aside from my amazing learning experiences, I took a little trip this past weekend.  I went with one of my friends from the Keats School to Dali (大理).  It is a small city about 5 hours away from Kunming. 

We took the Sleepers Bus so I didn't have to miss class or volunteering on Friday and we could still have all of Saturday...very very interesting experience...I'm not sure how often they wash the sheets, but in the morning they just folded the covers for the next group

Dali wish Belmont was there haha

Took a horse to LITERALLY climb the mountain... no, I did not know that it was literally going to climb straight up. Two hours up, one hour on the mountain, two hours down.

Pretty close to the top of CangShan (Cang Mountain)...yes, the horse climbed the whole way and if the horse ever fell I would have been (seriously) injured. It was an adventure!


I got to hold a monkey at the top of the mountain!!

I came down from CangShan with the horse from one of those hills over in the distance...

Picture of Dali University and Pagado is all taken during my horse ride

I loved Dali!  First, I just LOVE mountains.  Next, it really reminded me of Tibet(I went last year with the Belmont Study Abroad group).  Then I really like cities in China that keep their traditional style.  It was a great place to relax and see something different.

I miss China already and I haven’t even left yet!

Finally made it…

After a day of plane rides, airports, loosing my iPod, and making three new friends, I’M FINALLY in China!

Last stop in the United States

Shout out to Elliot Holden who I met on my flight from Atlanta to Los Angeles.  His trip ended in LA and was only 5 hours, but what we had in common was we were both on our way to pursuing our dreams and doing what we love.  Elliot is in LA trying to get his music ( on “Vampire Diaries” (one of my favorite shows EVER) and “Pretty Little Liars.”  Very cool.

Got the Passport and necessities to keep me healthy and knocked out

Visa and Boarding Pass

And ready to board my 14 hour flight!

Translation on the plane made me feel like I was already in China...

Shout out to Emily who I talked to on my flight from LA to Shanghai.  She is a Senior at Western Kentucky University and staying in Shanghai for 6 weeks to study abroad with a Business group.

Emily and me at the Shanghai Pu Dong Airport

I was so happy to finally land in China.  It was one of the longest trips I’ve ever had...

There is a reason you can barely see anything... so much pollution

And finally shout out to Zheng Xiao, who I met on my 3 hour bus ride from Shanghai to Hangzhou.  She just graduated with her Undergraduate degree in Marketing in Hangzhou.  Xiao will begin studying for her Graduate degree in Boston, MA this September.  It will be her first time traveling outside of China so she asked me a lot of questions about how life is like in America.  She had interesting stereotypes of Americans – like how everyone eats a ton of meat and no vegetables, and stores close at 6pm everyday...haha!  Unfortunately I was not able to get a picture with her =

Right now it is 1am here and I am WIDE awake... but I guess I should get some sleep if I want to adjust to the time before I fly to Kunming, China to start my volunteer work and studies.  More posts soon to come!

I’m going to China!

Only FIVE more days until I am on my way to the airport to leave for China!  It almost feels like yesterday when I was in China with the Belmont Study Abroad group last summer...

I am on the front-right side

The total trip duration will be 23 hours long... so even though I am leaving Wednesday morning, I will not be in China until Thursday evening (Thursday morning in Nashville).  I will stop in Shanghai for a couple of days until I fly to my final destination – Kunming. 

I am so excited to be going back for the third time and cannot wait to start volunteering in the local community and working on my Chinese!  I knew I was definitely going to China again this summer and am so fortunate and blessed to have the Lumos Scholarship funding my entire trip!!  So in a few days I am going to say good-bye to America (and facebook since it is still blocked in China) for 6 weeks!!  I will be updating this blog often, so keep watch for stories, pictures and possibly even some videos!