Tomorrow, . . . tomorrow . . .

T-mimus 1

We just (moments ago) received an update from Ann, along with a couple of reports. And a few minutes prior, Tom called to say all was well, the internet connection was like molasses, if at all, and they are getting ready to head out tomorrow.

Here’s Ann’s update followed by reports (that were lost in transmission last week) from Emily Long and Janet Lucier (chaperone):

Hi! Here [is] the latest. . . . the [internet] service is so unreliable I have no clue as to whether or not [these reports] actually went. Yet another Chinirony: [Internet] Service was top notch in Inner Mongolia when compared to Internet access here in Beijing!.

We're heading out at ll:30 [am] tomorrow [Tuesday]. Gotta love the way time works, too: We arrive in Chicago at 4:25 PM on 4/27 after having left Beijing 10 minutes later, 4:35 on 4/27.

All's well. All the best -- Annie (Landenberger)

It is funny. They arrive in Chicago ten minutes before they take off in China! Let that play around in your brain for a while . . .

Here’s Emily’s report:

April 13, 2004

Today was interesting on many levels. The first half of the day was spent traveling from Xi'an to Hohhot - an hour by plane. Upon our arrival to the airport in Hohhot, many distinguished staff members of the Inner Mongolia Performing Arts University greeted us warmly. I recognized some from their previous visit to Vermont. After a short bus ride to our (brand new, fancy!) hotel, we ate a buffet lunch and had a few hours of down time. Kim (Stafford) and I used our free time to wash piles of dirty laundry in the tub... something that hasn't been done for quite a while! At 4:30, we attended a meeting in the hotel where we were formally and cordially greeted. After the meeting, we went back to our rooms to dress for the welcoming banquet at 6:00.

The welcoming banquet:
I'm sure I've never been so doted on in my life. When we arrived at the banquet, we took our seats at the garnished tables and were immediately served delicious hot tea and our choice of soda. The waitresses then proceeded to place plate after plate of appetizers on the sparkling glass 'Lazy Susan.' After a few brief speeches, many entrees were crowded on the 'Susan,' and we dug in. The food was lavish - fresh fish, peppered meat, saut’d peanuts, endless stir-fried vegetables, and countless other scrumptious, foreign dishes. While eating, toast upon toast was proposed by many for everything imaginable, and the Inner Mongolians' hospitality and friendliness was utterly remarkable -- not just the staff members of the University, but the hotel staff as well. They made us feel welcome in literally every way possible: When I set my purse on the floor next to me, a waiter noticed and rushed over with an extra chair - it seemed just for my bag to sit in. When Kim dropped a chopstick on the floor, a staff member ran to the utensils cabinet to get a clean pair. It happened to be Cody Anderson's 15th birthday today, and I'm sure it will be a memorable one - our hosts called him up on stage, sang to him, and presented him with a gift - not to mention a beautifully decorated cake. The chaperones were also treated like monarchs - each one was presented with a silk scarf after being ceremonially and traditionally sung to (in Mongolian) by two talented young female students of the Arts University.
The evening was one that will not be forgotten - every little event was a new experience for most. The amount of happiness, laughter, and overwhelming hospitality in the room was astounding. I only hope our hosts will visit Vermont so we can attempt to treat them as well as they've treated us.

-- Emma Long

April 14, 2004

I feel so limited trying to describe on paper, the sights and emotions I have experienced on this journey. The vibrant colors of the Beijing Opera; the sense of peace on top of Mount Tai.

I bought a shirt that says, "I climbed the Great Wall." When I get home it will all seem like a dream ... and I want proof that I was really here.

Every day unfolds a new place of incredible beauty. A country surrounded with history and tradition from the Forbidden City to Confucius' temple to the Great Wall. The people are generous and sincere, the students of Qufu eager to speak the English language, the children of the villages curious to see their faces on a camera screen. Everyone is kind and welcoming wherever we go.

What a wonderful place ... This land ... called China.

Fate has brought me here; I am a lucky soul.

-- Janet Lucier (chaperone)

The reports and photographs throughout this journey have been so dynamic that it’s as if we have somehow been peeking over the JE group’s shoulders!

It has been one whale of a Journey, hasn’t it? The pictures and reports have shown one small window to the magnificence of this journey. When the group returns, we can look forward to hearing and seeing the details of a voyage that we have been privileged to see only the surface. I am guessing this group has taken more than 2-3 thousand photos to help tell the story!

These kids have been on a most ambitious and energetic 30-day journey. Once the “buzz” from being back home wears off, they’ll try to resume what we consider a “normal” life. This may not be easy for some of the kids, so be patient as the kids transform back from being “Chinese” for a month to being your kids again. As we have mentioned several times throughout this experience, these are not the same kids we knew a month ago. And as for parents, you are not the same either. If you haven’t read Bill Conley’s suggestions on yesterday’s page, please do so.

We hope to get reports and photos on this last full day in China. For a look back, the photo to the right is one taken when the gang visited the Great Wall nearly a month ago. Little did they know what was ahead of them. Oh, how they’ve changed . . .

We know that there is much to do on this “last chance” day in Beijing. They will visit the Friendship store and the infamous Silk Alley today. In fact, by the time you read this, their day is over and they are all busy “trying” to pack a month’s worth of memories into their bags!

The group heads to the airport tomorrow morning (yea!), leaving behind a significant part of their life (past, present, and future). And while they may be leaving this part of the world physically, they will never leave it emotionally or spiritually.

Okay. Have you finished yesterday’s quiz? If not, you’ll have today to work on it. The answers will be posted either tomorrow or Wednesday.

So enjoy this day knowing that tomorrow you’ll have your kids and spouses “back home again.”

Tomorrow, tomorrow . . . won’t be just any day!