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再见 means "See You Again"


Dear Grandma, Auntie, and Jiejie,

It seems like just yesterday that I arrived in Bangdong, but much longer than two weeks since I first met you. Ayi, Nainai, thank you for teaching me not only how to turn on the outhouse light and how to crack open walnuts without hurting my palms, but also how to communicate with people when I don’t speak a word of their local dialect. I’m sorry my friends and I devoured so much fruit, I’m sorry I’d say “I’m so full” to your constant generous offers of food, and I’m sorry for keeping you awake waiting for me to come home when our group meetings ran late. Also, I’m fully aware that everything I tried to help you with, you knew you could have done it faster and better yourself; thank you so much for giving me the chance to work beside you regardless.

Jiejie, I really don’t know how you didn’t get tired of me after the first few days. However, harvesting and cooking peanuts, learning bits of your livelihood picking tea by your side, climbing persimmon trees to get to the ripest fruit, falling asleep watching movies together, getting caught in pouring rain while picking mushrooms… I’ll never be able to forget all the small moments we spent together. You quickly and voluntarily became the person I learned to rely on for virtually all the questions and little problems I ran into during my time in Bangdong. Your incredibly open, silly, yet caring personality is something I hope to emulate in the future. I’ve always wondered what it’s like to have an older sibling, and you are just about the best older sister I could have asked for.

Many things I thought mattered before now seem rather insignificant, but people who I had expected to merely coexist with under the same roof for two and half weeks now seem like kin. Thanks to you, I didn’t feel rushed or out of place in a setting that could have otherwise easily made me feel culturally estranged and inadequate in language skill. Looking ahead to my next six months in Kunming, it’s not difficult to see how fortunate I am that my first experience fully immersed in a Chinese community was with people as warm as you. If it isn’t clear already, I miss you very much and hope that our paths will cross again—sooner rather than later. 我真爱你们!