By Maureen Fan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, February 5, 2008; Page A14
CAOTANG, China — This week in Caotang village, members of the Huang family were preparing for the Chinese New Year by making traditional dishes, scrubbing their already spotless homes and paying their respects to the family patriarch.
They were also discussing the fortunes of one of their most promising members, Huang He, a film and television student. In 2006, after 10 years of study in Northern Virginia and Michigan, Huang returned to China. Now, at the dawn of the Year of the Rat — a symbol of prosperity — he is contemplating heading back to the United States for work.
“I’m caught in between. My friends think I should set my feet firmly in the U.S. because I have already spent so much time there,” said Huang, who wonders who will look after his parents if he leaves. “I’m not really lost. I’m not panicked. I’m just looking for my next opportunity and my next home.”
Huang, 36, is a “sea turtle,” one of the thousands of students who return to China each year after spending time abroad. For many of them, a visit to their family villages during the Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival, is near mandatory. But such visits also force them to confront changes in modern China — changes that may prompt them to swim away again.