The Fourth W: Where?

One of my favorite fictional characters of all time is Sherlock Holmes, created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Now, I’m going to assume that most of you know who Sherlock Holmes is. But, in case you don’t, Sherlock Holmes is a private detective who lived in London in the late 1800s, and is – in my opinion – one of the most well developed literary characters of all time (OK. I am sixteen, so this might not be the most experienced opinion you have just received.) One of the most fascinating things about Sherlock Holmes is his ability to observe things and put together a story based on his observations. In Sherlock Holmes’ mind, he would ask himself six questions – Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. If you would be so kind as to put yourself in his metaphorical shoes, we’re going to continue our exploration through a series of blog posts exploring these questions, looking at some “clues” and then it will be up to you to put these clues together and see how the pieces fit to give you a more complete picture of our adoption. So, put on your deerstalker as we examine our surroundings and explore the question of where.

Omaha Skyline

My family lives in the largest city in Nebraska – you may or may not have heard of it. Omaha in located on the eastern edge of the state of Nebraska, in the heartland of America. Omaha was founded in the mid-1800s, and was actually settled illegally (by Iowans) in 1840. It wasn’t until July 4, 1854 that Omaha was officially founded. To celebrate, there was a picnic on Capitol Hill, the present day location of Central High School. Ever since then, Omaha has grown, becoming a national leader in a variety of industries. Omaha was home of the famed stockyards, the Union Pacific Railroad, Boys Town, and Jobbers Canyon (the industrial area of downtown, which employed thousands.) Let’s jump to modern times, in an age where Omaha is a world-class venue for many different events. In 1950, Rosenblatt Stadium was constructed, and became the home of the College World Series for the next sixty years, before making its move downtown to TD Ameritrade Park. In 1988, part of Jobbers Canyon, in downtown, was torn down to make room for ConAgra’s headquarters, which they just recently abandoned for greener grass (or the lack thereof) in Chicago. The annual Berkshire Hathaway meeting draws tens of thousands of investors to Omaha for a spring weekend;  musicians, live performances, festivals, and sporting events draw people from near and far alike to Omaha – don’t forget to buy your tickets to the Olympic Swim Trials this summer; and Forbes recently reaffirmed that Omaha is among the top ten cities to raise a family – but it doesn’t take a Sherlock Holmes to figure this out. Today, Omaha is the 42nd biggest city in the United States, with a population of 432,981 people. And Omaha is the city that will be Rui Shan’s home.

Now for China. China has a long and fascinating history, which you will be glad to know I will not be covering in its entirety in this post. Rui Shan is from Datong, in the Shanxi province. The picture below shows Datong (red) and Shanxi (orange) in relationship to the rest of China.


Datong is located just south of Inner Mongolia. Imagine yourself in this city and remember, you are in Sherlock Holmes’ shoes. What would Sherlock Holmes be looking for?


How many people live in Datong? What is their economy based on? What is their history? What is Datong’s geography? How important is Datong to its surrounding population? Sherlock Holmes would ask all these questions, and more, but I’m going to answer these specific questions. Datong was founded in 200 B.C., only 20+ centuries before Omaha and is surrounded by mountains on three sides, according to Wikipedia. Datong is home to just over 1 million people, and is a major city in the coal industry, earning Datong the nickname of the City of Coal. It was the western capitol during the Jurchen Jin Dynasty, before it was sacked by the Mongols. It was rebuilt, then sacked again in 1649, (during the Ming dynasty) but was rebuilt by 1652. Its beginning as a “modern city” began in 1917, when a rail link was completed that linked Datong to Beijing, and Tainjin. Britannica.com says that Datong is also the “collecting and commercial centre for the surrounding Chinese agrarian population and for the Mongols in Inner Mongolia.”

So, now you know the “where” and can begin to apply that in your observations about our adoption. It’s simply elementary.

And, please, post any other questions you may have about Datong in the comments. I’ll do my best to answer them. I will try to answer them truthfully, which means you might see me answer with “That’s a good question. I don’t know,” and if I don’t know, I will find out and get back to you. Also PLEASE subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss the next time I get to write. 🙂





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