Every day I get the same question from a different student.“Jon, I hear you’re coming back (always instead of ‘going back’)to America, and that you’re never coming back to China…” It’s not exactly a question, but the sad puppy face that always follows is effectively the question mark. And I always answer the same way. “Yes, that’s true that I’m going back to America,” I say, with a bracing-for-impact expression on my face, “but never is a strong word.” I’m always sure to explain that I love China and that I’m not leaving because I don’t like Baoding or our school or the students, but that it’s just time to go home. A couple days ago, after class, my students, Ivy and Charlotte, were telling me how much they would miss me and that they hoped I would come back. After a few minutes of this, Ivy suddenly remembered something important. “Will you see Greg when you go home?” she asked (Ivy met Greg when he and AJ came to visit). Somehow it came up that she thinks Greg is very “handsome”, which is the catch-all word the students use to describe an attractive boy because they don’t really know the words “hot” or “physical specimen”, which would both be apt descriptions of Greg. “Can you please email me some pictures of you and Greg before you leave?” she asked in earnest. I love that my leaving reminded Ivy that she needed pictures of Greg. But I guess it makes sense; shouldn’t all things just continually remind us that we need to see Greg’s glowing face again? I thought I’d share the pictures I sent with you. The first one is on top of Pike’s Peak in Colorado. The second is from our Newfoundland trip a few years back. The third is from a silly moment in the Longwood house at ODU, but now I’m not so sure why we thought it was funny enough to spend so much time setting it up (Paul Sanders’s hand can be seen holding Bella from under the table). The fourth is at a lobster restaurant in Maine, also from our Newfoundland trip.
Ivy responded to my email by saying this:
“Do you mind if i share the pictures with some of my best friends?
And could you sent me more about your “silly” pictures? I want to make a photo album of ours.”
Also, here’s a video of Greg throwing a snowball at a tiger: