Yashen Mu is on a mission.
He is determined to walk across Kansas in the next 30 days or less to see the country and meet people.
The 19-year-old entrepreneurship major at Wichita State University was in Marion on Monday and Tuesday to meet people and learn more about the American culture.
These wide-open spaces are intriguing to him because Mu is from Xingang, China, a relatively small city by Chinese standards with 5 million people.
“I want to be close to nature,” he said Tuesday morning.
By being close to nature, he is close to God, he said, which is part of his journey.
Mu’s destination is North Platt River, Neb., about a 400-mile walk from Marion.
“I found it on the map and thought, ‘I could walk there’,” he said.
Mu began his walk last week, staying Saturday and Sunday with the Larry Larsen family in Peabody. His two-night stay in Marion has been with Arlie and Gina Overton.
Gina Overton’s sister, who lives in Newton, met Mu and provided a yard for him to pitch his tent. The Overtons met Mu and decided to provide a yard and some meals for the traveler.
Mu walked on county roads from Peabody to Marion where he met Marion Police Chief Josh Whitwell who gave him a ride to town.
“I didn’t meet too many dogs (between Peabody and Marion),” Mu said.
Just in case, he has treats in his pocket and a stick to fend off unfriendly animals.
To prepare for this journey, Mu trained his body to not need as much food by eating less — sometimes going several days without food because the amount of supplies he can carry in his backpack is limited.He also practiced his camping skills, with a small tent among the items in his satchel.
Equipped with a cell phone and a camera, the young man keeps in touch with his church family in Wichita at First Baptist Church and takes photos of people and places he’s seen. He’s also writing in a journal, recording all of his experiences.
After graduating from WSU, Mu plans to return to China.
“I hope to make enough money to return to Kansas and start a farm,” he said. “I want to bring back my parents for their senior years.”
Mu left Marion today, heading north toward Nebraska. His next stop in Marion County was Lost Springs.
He was certain he would find another kind, friendly person willing to share their yard, some time, and maybe a hot meal.