One is the loveliest number . . . This is it. This is the group’s last full day in Beijing. Tomorrow they head home! Yeehaw!
We waited to upload today’s page in hopes of getting more from Beijing. The internet connection (if you recall from when they first arrived in China) is really sluggish (due to a very slow connection speed and a heavy volume of traffic) and we can’t expect a lot in these last couple of days. I know you all don’t mind too much because . . . they’ll be home tomorrow!!! That’s right, tomorrow!
We do have four photos from their final performance along with a great report (as they all have been) from Ripley Sager.
Tom called this afternoon to say everyone was doing well and enjoying their time in Beijing. They had an early flight out of Hohhot and . . .
. . . visited the Summer Palace in the afternoon. It is a beautiful place; great day with sunshine a big lake and a nice breeze. Students really enjoyed it.
We went to the School Year Abroad in the afternoon, arriving at about 4pm. The kids all went off with American students who have spent the year here in Beijing. They piled into taxis and went to dinner at the host family homes of the American kids. Johnny Redmond took four of our kids with him. The food was great and the kids came back all excited. Johnny looks great and it was really nice to see him. He'll be home on June 4. See you soon. Tom
This was a great opportunity for the kids to experience the SYA “life.” There may be a student among our group that will consider this as something they might like to do, and this firsthand exposure will certainly be valuable in making that decision.
Now, let’s hear what Ripley has to say about their final performance in Hohhot.
Ripley Sager, Freshman
April 23, 2005 [Shakespeare's birthday!]
HOHHOT—Our final performance in China. A final display and outcome of
all the collaborative work we've done here in Hohhot. All good things must come to an end, of course, but I wish this didn't have to. We've all worked so hard on singing, dance and some of us on instruments, too.
Even if some of us felt a little hesitant, we all did it, and I believe I speak for the whole group when I say we all had a really great time doing this. I am sad to think this will probably be the last time I will ever do this dance or play this piece, or even see these people. Before our show tonight my legs shook. It was first time I had been at all nervous before a performance of our Journey East play and it's because we weren't doing our show for strangers anymore. Over the past ten days, we've all formed such good relationships with the students here and it will definitely be tearful when we have to leave. I remember thinking it was a little silly seeing pictures of past Journey East group members crying with their Chinese friends, but now I completely understand. Through the fall exchange and the visit here in Hohhot, I know we've all made many friends. It will be hard to say goodbye.
We had to pack up our big bags today to send to Beijing which brought me to the sudden realization that our stay in China is drawing to its end. Although the fun things we've been doing have gone by so fast, it feels like we've been here forever -- and I mean that in a very good sense.
Since I've spent a month in China, it feels like China is my life, not just a trip, and it will be weird to return home. Even though I'll be with the same people, it will definitely not be the same. Here we have lots of work, but it doesn't feel like school. I've become closer with everyone in our group, so it no longer feels like a field trip with teachers, but rather -- I know it sounds corny, but it's true -- more like a big family traveling together.
When I think about the end of this time in China, I get a bit sad, but then I think of all those wonderful things about my life back home in Vermont and I know it will be good to be home. I've changed in so many ways over the course of this trip. I've really just gotten into the China groove and it will be so strange to suddenly get back to something so different. I don't want to eat with forks. I have a feeling I'll be eating with chopsticks a lot more than usual when I get home. It's just more fun that way.
NOTE: As I submit this, we're in Beijing -- on the very last leg of a remarkable month. I know Katherine's entry will touch on our farewell to Hohhot. I'll send that and Pat's [soon]. We saw Johnny at SYA here in Beijing last night. What a wonderful treat that was. He looks great, sounds great, and is "really good at Chinese" as the kids who spent the evening with him said. More anon. -ACL
Ripley talks about how close he and the others have become over the past month. Like any lengthy group endeavor, they have relied on each other for survival, for success. Like the past JE groups, there is now a bond among these two dozen kids that will remain forever. Months, even years from now, when they see other, a simple smile, a wink, even a nod will acknowledge what they have been through -- what they have become.
They will try to share their journey, but you really have to have been there to understand. We’ll listen, and we’ll try to understand, but we will know that there is so much we’ll never know, nor will we ever fully understand.
It has been a long hard month for parents here at home. You wondered how you were going to manage, and now you know. You did it. Soon your families will become one again and you will move on to the next life challenge. Your child will seem different to you and you to them. You have not changed, but they will see you differently. Thirty days have passed on the calendar, but years have passed through their hearts and minds.
This is a short day (relative to the days of Hohhot!) and tomorrow may be as well. As a result, this will give you more time to work on the quiz. I haven’t figured out what first prize will be (answering all questions correctly), but if you can answer most, if not all of the questions, I think you’ll realize your real prize.
Let’s take another look at “our” kids as they perform for the last time in China: