As I sit here thinking about this trip, I have just realized how spectacular it has been. We have hiked to the top of Mt. Tai, rode camels in the Gobi Desert, walked on the Great Wall, visited temples and schools, performed for kindergarteners, collaborated with the kids from the art school and saw amazing landscapes. What I have realized is that nothing would have been as much fun with out our crazy group of misfits.
Starting off we have Nathan, Sam and Mariah, the three musketeers. They create the comic relief and all have a slight dabbing addiction, okay, a major dabbing addiction, and interventions don’t work on them. Next in the family is Kenny, and although we have to remind him where he left his backpack every time we stop somewhere his odd questions and interesting relationship with Tom make any bad days good. If you see Maris or Brianna you know the other one is not far behind and together they are funny and goofy. Maris is quiet, but has changed the most since we left our parents 3 ½ weeks ago, and Brianna is outgoing, so together they are the perfect balance. Now for the Windham boys… Patrick and Jake are the kings of the trap party, but both have a nice and sensitive side that they hide behind their “big man on campus” attitude. They are funny and a good addition to our group. Next is Adam, oh Adam. You can’t lose him in a crowd because of how loud and outgoing he his. He makes the weirdest jokes and knows exactly when he shouldn’t say them, so that is exactly when he does, but the group would not be the same with out him. But if you are looking for loud, then you just need to talk to Sarah. Don’t worry because she can always find something to talk about, and she is so much fun to room with (until she locks you out of your room, and you have to ask a cleaning women who doesn’t speak English to help you get back inside). She wouldn’t be our lovely Sarah if she didn’t do things like that. Just don’t ever ask her to do the boys’ makeup ever!! Next we have Sam H, who is very quiet, but the times I have talked to him he is great and really funny. He also has the best taste in socks and he never makes anyone feel like they are not part of the group. His partner in crime is Skyler and she is funny and so sweet. I was lucky enough to go with her to our night out with a Chinese family and she was so much fun to talk to. She also has an amazing voice and very sweet to everyone in the group. Up next we have Zoie, and once you get past her hard exterior and get to know her (you just have to have a conversation with her) you can reach her goofy sweet inside. She will talk about anything whether it be about her dog or something a little more serious so she can become a great friend when you try. Next in our goofy family you reach our actor, artist, and philosopher Tino. Whether he is cracking a joke or saying something wise, all conversations are interesting. He may seem like he hates everything but don’t worry, he is really having a fun time. And last but certainly not least we have our “mom,” oh, I mean Fairen. She keeps everyone in line, but she definitely has her hard times so all 15 of her children pitch in to cheer her up and she is funny when she chooses to be. And that is our goofy, funny, smart and loving family and I could not have picked a better group to laugh, cry, reflect and have fun with on this trip. We have seen and done so much on this trip, some things were fun and some things were hard, but the saddest thing will be saying good bye to the place that brought us so close.
Despite the language barrier, we have made many new Chinese and Mongolian friends on this trip. It is crazy to think that we were able to establish friendships with people who we were so nervous to talk to at first. We have also said good-bye to so many people, but all of the good-byes have brought our Journey East group closer together. We have been able to talk to one another about all the new people we have made friendships with. When we had to leave our new friends we were crushed, but were able to comfort each other. I feel like our ability to connect with each other would not have been possible if we had the use of our phones, because we would have tried to seek comfort from family and friends rather than the people that were with us.
The 16 crazy, amazing people on this trip are all so different, but we grew to be friends. We have helped each other get through the hardest times and I am happy to call them my friends and my family. This “family” has done so much together, like when we were at the top of Mt Tai and had our memorial ceremony for Mrs. Chapman. At that point, we had gone through so much together. The ceremony brought people who were completely different together. We all shared an emotional time, and the fact that we could help to get each other through it was an amazing thing to be a part of.
Another time when our group bonded, was our eight hour bus ride from Kaili to Chongqing. We all were on a very small bus and we sang and talked. People who were not at all that close sat next to each other and ended up sleeping on one another. Another thing that happened on the bus was our “dabbing” intervention for Sam. We told Sam if he could make it for a certain amount of time he would get candy and we would give him more candy the longer he refrained from dabbing. He only earned one candy and he still dabs a lot. Our intervention was unsuccessful. Each person had a different way that they became closer and they each had a very odd and interesting relationship with everyone in their group.
There are people on this trip that made it possible, starting with our fearless leader Tom. He made jokes and roasted people (mostly Kenny) and he had to check at least 50 times a day with Mrs. R. to see if she lost the passports because giving them to her was a big step for him. That brings us to Mrs. R.- she gets a little crazy when she doesn’t eat in the mornings and she also had to deal with us before this trip started, so luckily she already knew just how crazy we all were before we left. Then there is Jenny and Mr. Goodemote, they were the ones who took all of our talents and odd selections of ideas and turned them into a pretty awesome show (if I do so say myself). Although they get a little stressed out before each of our shows because they do know what needs to get done and how exactly to do it. And Jen,well none of us knew her before this trip and she is pretty great and handled us all very well. We are a wild group, but we haven’t scared her too much, she is great to talk to so I am glad she came with us on this trip. We now have Kevin who is the technology behind the Journey East program. He keeps all of you connected to us and he also stays very calm if you cover him in food, which did happen. Let’s just say Nathan should sleep with one eye open from now on. That sums up our group and just how special we are. If we weren’t special we probably wouldn’t be here. I guess that’s all for now and we will see you all very soon.