Karen Entous and her husband returned from visiting their son in college last week. Their trip to Shaanxi State Teachers University in Xian, China, is one they won't soon forget. Entous, her husband, Allan, and their sons, Dan, Bobby and Mark, live in Encino.
Dan had been at Amherst for a year on this foreign program while he was a student at CSUN. He didn't tell us very much. We would learn about what he did through the grapevine. He wanted that kind of separation, to grow up.
He came back from Amherst and he wanted to go to China. Allan and I were both very open-minded about it. We said "No!"
He said we had to start listening to what he was thinking. He was curious about China. It was a big attraction to him. He had taken Chinese as a language, also. The selling feature to us was that he would add an Asian minor to his degree. That could open up a lot of doors. He left for China on January 25th. The semester was to finish up May 17.
We started to make plans to go to China on May 24. Other parents knew that we were going, so we took money, clothing, beef jerky to the students.
On May 19 we heard that martial law had been declared in Beijing. My mission was to get Danny out of China. I did not feel that he was safe there.
We flew to Hong Kong. We decided that we could get into Xian, where they were in school.
Danny met us at the Airport in Xian. I wrapped my arms around him and hugged him and kissed him. I was just so happy to see him. He was happy to see us.
He had arranged for a car and a driver to come to the airport to meet us. Basically he took over, and at that point I was feeling like the child, and he was the parent. He spoke Chinese, and he was in charge. It felt wonderful.
Later that evening at the hotel he just really opened up to us. He said he knew that he had closed us off. He came to some realizations that he could grow up to find himself as a person and at the same time include us as parents. My mouth dropped open. I said, "Danny, you had to go to China to figure this out?" He laughed and said, "I knew you were going to say that." It was very touching. We stayed up until one o'clock in the morning to talk.
We decided to stay in Xian for six days, and we went on tour with him. We visited the dorms. Everything was very musty. Hygienically, I knew things were not clean. The kids had been sick, and I can understand why.
After I saw the dorm, I came back to the hotel and got into the bathtub and started crying. Everything was so incredible. I can't believe that my son is living in these conditions. It's Third World. I was feeling guilty about the things that I had, how I was living, and the things that I still wanted to have in my life, and the inequity in the world of the haves and have-nots.
Danny went to Shanghai with some other students, and Allan and I went to Guilin and stayed for three days.
It was when we got to the airport to fly to Hong Kong that some tourists were telling me that there were some killings in Beijing. We got up in the morning in Hong Kong, and they slipped a newspaper under our door. Allan started reading it, and he said, "Oh, my God, look what really happened!" That's when I broke down and started sobbing. I felt that I had failed to get my son out.
We were told that the kids were going to go from Shanghai to Bangkok by boat. I got a phone call the next day saying that was not happening. By this time I am having anxiety attacks. I am shaking.
We got a call in the middle of the night that they were to fly out of Shanghai to Hong Kong. In Hong Kong I wanted Danny to come home with me, but he felt he was safe because he was out of China. The students made plans to go to Thailand.
The story's not over yet. Danny's not home, and there are still Americans in China. I'll be very relieved when he comes back. It's going to take a while for me to calm down.