It ended bittersweet. We had a day in Hong Kong filled with strange food and rain clouds. Umbrellas were a common sight as were motion sick delegates, but the day was made better by Maggie’s speech at the end which brought me to tears. So, instead of writing a description about our day or a life lesson I learned I’m going to write Maggie a thank you letter and, hopefully, all of you will understand what a large part of this experience she has been.
I remember meeting you at the airport and thinking “This woman is the cutest asian and I can already tell I am going to love her”. Nothing has changed except to that list I would add sassy, hilarious, and the best person to have you take around China.
From day one you enforced the rules, but always had a sense of humour about you. You told me, and everyone else, that the only thing you wanted us to learn was appreciation, something you reiterated in your speech tonight. I have learned to not only appreciate this trip, the opportunity that has been afforded to me, and the sacrifices my parents have made to get me here, but also the culture of China and particularly Beijing. You mentioned tonight that it isn’t about the date the Forbidden City was built or the exact population of any given city, it is about appreciating what we saw and how we saw it. I climbed the Great Wall, I created amazing friendships, and I learned about a people I’d only ever read about. But Maggie, I didn’t just see them, I experienced everything and you helped me see why this culture is so unique and special. You, and your sass, made our group feel like an extremely dysfunctional family in which you were our lion mother willing to do anything to protect her cubs.
I can’t think of seeing this country without anyone but you. Your smile and laugh made every long bus ride more enjoyable. You went along with any hilarity we threw your way, catching onto the sassmaster quips and the squirrel jokes. Your squeals of surprise when we scared you with a snake made me want to pack you in my suitcase and share you with everyone I know. You went off program to give us a true Chinese cultural experience from the Shanghai mall to the Hong Kong market making the trip more exciting and spontaneous. I am gratefuI I had the chance to meet you and if this was your last delegation with People to People I am glad it was with us.
This experience of a lifetime will forever be cemented in my story and I am glad I had a chance to add you as a character. There is a song from Wicked, a breath taking musical on Broadway in New York which you should see if you ever come to America, and it is called “For Good”. There is a line in the song and for me it sums up everything I can’t say without crying:
“It well may be that we will never meet again in this lifetime, so let me say before we part so much of me is made of what I learned from you, you’ll be with me like a handprint on my heart”.
So, zai jian Maggie. Thank you for all you have done and don’t forget us, because I know myself, and everyone else, will never forget our favourite amasian.