Friday, May 27, 2016

Ode to DP2H

Five years ago, when I showed up in Beijing, a homeroom was assigned to me, or I to it. Said homeroom was somewhat quiet and nondescript, with some exceptions, some of whom survived, and some of whom did not, headed elsewhere, and were replaced by other quiet, somewhat nondescript young men and women who - together with the original cast from 8th grade, and from even earlier - escaped BWYA last Friday by graduating from it.

They were good young men and young women, for the most part; the wickedest among them merely forgot to do a homework assignment or two, and the best among them...well, let it just stand that they made me cry. The routine of starting each day with my homeroom was comforting; there were small variants and curveballs, but by and large, DP2H (and its earlier shapes and forms: DP1H, E10H, E9H, E8B) was perhaps the most stable element of my BWYA life. Maggie or Meilin would arrive, and then Luca and Dorcas and Isabella, and then the rest between 8:05 and 8:20. And then Ako would come. Maybe. I'd ask them the question of the day, and a few of them would venture forth a guess or two until it took. Then I would attempt to interest them in the Moodle announcements for the morning, and some of them would feign interest and some of them would not, and that was about it. Somewhere in there Mr. Racine might burst in and we'd banter and then he'd tell my homeroom something of massive import to their futures, and then he'd go. I might complain about the lack of C&S projects being done around the campus, or about the Twins, or about some adventure I'd had on the way to school that morning, and my homeroom would listen patiently. Or we'd sit in silence, them on their phones, me scurrying to get something ready for my first class. And then the bell would ring, and they'd go.

Or would they? Or did they? Or will they? I saw them around throughout the day, and we'd exchange a high-five, or a weird face. Or pretend to smash into each other. Some of them would be in my classes. Some of them would be in an assembly I had to run. Or a detention. Or in a life I had to live. Some of them would give me Chinese lessons in the courtyard of Building A after school, or together we'd organize a coffee house and rock it out, or maybe we'd just shoot the breeze during lunch and talk about nothing in particular.

There are a lot of unique memories, ones that are easy to talk about or integrate into a speech, like our Harlem Shake video - the first one at BWYA, Anne Hathaway stuff, or our trips through caves and up mountains. All of which were amazing. But there are many more very normal days, weeks, months, and years, times during which nothing special happened, but during which we did a whole lot of life together. They and I, me and them, we experienced dull, lifeless stretches, and intense, frustrating, stretching times, and whatever is in between. There were many days when I barely said hi to some of those students, or maybe weeks or months, nor they to me.

But, it's just bein' together. Even if nothing happened, we were together. And indeed, we were together.

And now we're not.

But we still are, bound by the label they were all stuck with as a homeroom: "H." I think they liked it, hope they grew in it, and pray that they remember it: who else was there, and what happened and didn't happen and will still happen.

And we still have a Wechat group. It's called DP2H.

These students will be missed, these recent graduates. They'll be missed by me. Jessica, Dorcas, Isabella, Corrina, Meilin, Emily, Angela, Doyeon, K-Su, Maggie, Justin, K-Li, Evan, Luca, Bruce, Ako, Jason, Andy, Sean. There are others that I have missed already, but the grief process is already much further along. Ken. The other Sean. Oliver. Connor. Kai. Akane Kamiyama. Eva. Anastasia. Jenny from the Block. Nancy. Jung Chan. Sung. Emily Teng. Gone and gone, been gone long enough that they've come back to visit and it's been a big deal, been visited, by me, by others, in other countries on other continents. They are gone. But they are missed.

So. Here it is:

Fare thee well, DP2H, and all those who have come before you. It has been a pleasure and it has been an honor.

These are official, hijacked documents from Beijing World Youth Academy. Mum's the word.

Homeroom yearbook pages:

Homeroom yearbook photos:

Thursday, May 26, 2016


Over the last week or so, Beijing has been blessed by the finest of sunsets. There was a nice one last night (Level 1 Neat), an even cooler one two weeks ago (Level 2 Neat), and then one on Monday that made me late for the event I was on my way to (Level 10 Neat). 

Level 1 (Ellen and I took these pictures):

Level 2 (I took these pictures): 

Level 10 (the first seven Ellen and I took; then the last ___ are stolen from Wechat moments, which was not hard to do...the last one I stole from a student's post - she is already basically a professional photographer...):


(stolen...from a student)

Nice job, Beijing! Keep up the good work!