Location: Beijing

“All my bags are packed; I’m ready to go […] I’m leavin’ on a jet plane. Don’t know when I’ll be back again.” Saying goodbye to the kids at the orphanage struck a new type of deep emotional nerve, but I had only ever exchanged poorly spoken greetings with those children. Today the people with whom I have relied on for my emotional, mental, and physical support leave. Saying goodbye for a seemingly indefinite time feels to be an incredibly daunting task. Though it is undeniably cheesy, rather than sulk over today’s departures, I am going to focus on celebrating the good which has occurred in spades. From the very first day, this group has explored true and real conversations, has laughed alongside locals, taken tooooooons of selfies (without charging for any!), and has leaned on each other for support. On behalf of our group, we would like to thank some for their tireless dedication towards the happiness of the group. Leigh Ann, thank you for sharing both THE apartment and your wisdom with each of us. Daniel, thank you for a hilarious tour in Xi’an! Kristine, thank you for always having a smile on your face and demonstrating to us how much you care. Thank you to our group leaders, Evan and LongYun, for always having a peach or vitamin C packet on hand, and being willing to let us shape our own experiences. None of this would have been possible though without the boundless support of friends and family back home, so most of all thank you to those without whom none of us physically could have come here in the first place. Personally, I would like to extend a thank you to the entire group for helping construct a memorable experience jam-packed with remarkable moments. Really though after not using our phones to communicate much for three weeks, exclusively communicating with each other over the phone is likely going to be a different journey altogether. I think that this trip has taught me a noncommunicable amount regarding the power of words, or the absence of them. But saying goodbye, I can only muster the latter.