July 6, 2013

A Year Later

A year ago, I left China. Jason took me to the airport and hugged me goodbye before my plane took off, and I embarked on my first journey alone halfway around the world. The past eight weeks had been transformative for me. I had both learned about my home by seeing it through Jason’s eyes and learned about his world by immersing myself in it. A year ago was my time to push myself a little further and to take my first solo international flight to get back to my grandmother’s ranch in Colorado.

A year is a long time, but I can still remember the young woman sitting next to me on my flight over the Pacific. She was a preschool teacher from Nanjing, China, and it was her first time out of the country. I, at 19, was the seasoned traveller returning from a long journey.

She was on her second of three flights on her way to Boston, where she would be taking an intensive English course to help not only herself, but also her pupils who would get their first exposure to English through her.

She asked me what Boston was like. At that time, I couldn’t tell her. However, I am sure that she quickly discovered what I did when I spent a week and a half in Boston over winter break and what I have learned from the Boston University students I study with here: the people are kind and welcoming, and the city is full of history.

She was strong to take a flight alone to a foreign country where she would know no one. Now I am doing the same, but I built up to this trip with three other trips abroad. I’ve learned so much this semester, from the language to living more independently. I’m sure that she found the same, though we parted at customs at the end of our flight.

Our flight over the Pacific one year ago today was Asiana flight 214 from Seoul to San Francisco. My heart goes out to all the passengers on this year’s flight: to those who are seasoned travelers and to those who are leaving home for the first time on the journey of a lifetime. I hope that as many of their dreams can be fulfilled as mine have been this past year, despite this tragedy.

With my thoughts and prayers from Dresden,

Helen

posted in Helen Hutchens

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