Hello my lovely, lovely friends. I am so so horribly sorry that I have been even worse this semester than the last, but I have just been so wrapped up in existence here, I can't even believe it myself!
Right now it is 10:07 PM on June 12th, and quite honestly I don't understand how I got here; the night before I go back to reality.
Let me be clear here,
I have been absolutely aware of what has been going on around me. (Maybe even a little too much, keeping in touch with people who are not around me is not my forté, I'm sure you've noticed!) Every bite of every meal, every lovely word spoken by those I have chosen to surround myself with, every easy wind blow and even the challenging times were all very deeply felt.
But what I don't understand is how it is when things are so lovely we are constantly looking at things that may seem even lovelier and we arrive there and you realize that everything has always been lovely, why did you wait to appreciate the innate loveliness of everything already around you?
BUT VERONICA, you may say, looking at your blog, you have no problem with seeing the good in the CURRENT moment!
Unfortunately, this is not true. I am much more skilled in the art of seeing the good in what has passed and what has yet to come which makes me a very easy excitable person in many ways, but it also has its downfalls, like most things.
That being said, I look back on my year, this year, the shortest year of all my life, and I can't help but think of one thing- Grace.
This is a concept that is shared all over the world in many different ways. To some it is grace, to others it could be anything from "good vibes" to simple thankfulness. This year, I was granted the privilege to feel it all with a strength of a thousand suns.
If I have learned anything this year at all, it's that everything is not what it seems and that I am not the absolute and final word of anything at all, so who am I to judge anyone or anything at all?
Of course I believe everyone is entitled to their opinions, but I believe there's a profound difference between disagreement and judgement... (But thats for another time).
Forgive me, I am trying to condense what feels like a lifetime of lessons in a few paragraphs.
I am trying to figure out how to examine my soul and the souls of those around me so that I can show you a piece, hoping that you will see the goodness I see here, but these beautiful things do not come out in full complete sentences, but instead in short bursts of clarity and undeniable truthfulness, which is what I am sharing with you now.
Today us CIEE students had graduation, a lovely ceremony filled with joy, of course a touch of sadness and sentimentality, and thankfulness. Completely student run, the ceremony began with the introduction of some of the CIEE coordinators, as well as a bilingual speech given by one of our own; a CIEE student. This is followed by the distribution of the "diplomas" and other special awards for those exceptional students, and finally with a lovely talent show. I will never forget what it felt like being able to share just a few more hours of love and joy for this lovely country and it's culture.
After the ceremony we all (slowly) made our way over to a nearby hotel to eat a quite incredible meal. Surrounded by all CIEE students, Chinese home-stay families, and the staff members of CIEE it could be described as nothing less than... home-y.
After eating an impressive amount of food in a impressively short amount of time, we were forced to say goodbye to members of our ever growing CIEE family, and the GAP students and I took one last stroll through my favorite park in the world-- Chang Feng Park.
I find it enormously challenging, finding the correct words to thank those involved in making this year happen for me, so goodbyes are not an easy task. I did my best today, and I shall try my best again... This is about to be truthful and dramatic and I apologize in advance.
Thank you, first and foremost to the LOVELY teachers at CIEE, and every single one of the staff members, who without, I surely would have perished from this earth. I can tell you, dear readers, with certainty that CIEE only hires those with hearts of pure gold.
Next to my lovely and dear friends and classmates here, thank you for giving me the privilege of showing me your heart and soul and everything that encompasses. Thank you for teaching me tolerance on the days when CIEE was just WAY too small. Thank you for teaching me self reliance, on the days when it seemed too large, and on all the other days thank you for teaching me of love.
TO CHINA!!!! Thank you for accepting me into you're large and overpopulated hands, and never kicking me out even though I may not always fit so perfectly here. Thank you for showing me that losing myself in a new culture is the only way to retrieve the real me, but more importantly thank you for showing me that this life is not meant to be all about me. (PS. I'll be back sooner than you think....) :)
Lastly, to my lovely and forever supportive parents. There are no words to express my thankfulness, and no amount of presents can repay you for what you've given me here (but I sure tried!!!). I love you, and when I return home I bet you will be able to see it in my eyes, feel it in my heart; this year was not a waste of time or money. *disclaimer* (GAP YEARS ARE AMAZING EVERYONE SHOULD TAKE ONE AND GO ABROAD)
To my dear readers, you are probably few, but thank you for reading this over-the-top blog anyways, and thank you for your patience with my flakiness.
This is the end of this for me, but I can promise you that it won't be the last time you see words written by me, yelling about the beauty in this world, in this life.
Because if I learned anything from myself this year, it's that beauty is anything and everything that the senses can't reach.
Until next time, my dear, dear, China.