“Can miles truly separate you from friends. If you want to be with someone you love, aren’t you already there?” ― Richard Bach
Last Friday, my family and friends surprised me with a big farewell party, which was held in the café at my school. The entrance door was decorated with a beautiful poster made by my friend Lara that depicting the words “Goodbye Arzu” with flowers and dots. All the café tables were put outside, surrounded by flowers and decorated with white tablecloths, red napkins and Chinese fans. Before I could say anything Lara gave me a tight hug and started crying. “Don’t go away, Arzu, please!” For the first time, I realized that leaving for Hong Kong might not be as easy as leaving for the United States was. I was so surprised by the beauty of the setting and the number of people that had come and were all smiling, waving at me and hugging me, that I did not see the big buffet with salad, grilled meat and Turkish side dishes, guarded by a big golden lucky cat that was constantly beckoning its upright paw. Not only had all of my friends come (including those who live at the other end of the city), but also my teachers and my school principal were present. Even my former elementary school teachers, who I had not seen for many years came by to wish me luck for the long journey. There was one surprise after the next. My friend Connor (also a UWC student, soon going to Swaziland) from Bavaria and my best friend Amy and Carla from North Rhine-Westphalia had come just for the party. I could not believe that they all had spent more than 6 hours on the train, just to wish me farewell. As if that surprise was not enough, Carla gave me the cake that she had baked for me and kept “safe” in the train. I was so happy to see everyone that I could have spent the whole afternoon embracing all attending guests and thanking them for such a wonderful surprise. Behind the café I discovered my dad mastering his barbecue skills. The more minutes passed, the more people arrived and right when I thought everybody was there, my piano teacher and her husband came. Now we were complete. Marko, one of my friends from art class, had brought his entire DJ-ing equipment and was heating up the atmosphere with good music. I spent most of the time moving from table to table to talk to everyone and show my appreciation.
After the buffet was opened and all the tummies were full my friend Ebru – who had done an incredible job helping my mom prepare the party, send out all invitations and buy the decoration – and Lara made all guests come together to play a game. They had prepared an “Arzu-Quiz” to test everyone’s knowledge about me! I could not resist sitting there and watching the entire game smiling and giggling. In addition to the rather simple questions about my future plans (becoming a diplomat) and hobbies (watersports!) there were also very amusing questions about my idiosyncrasies, such as my weakness for chai latte, strange and unforgettable travel experiences and primary school moments. The winner of the game, Amy, received a big Chinese fan and was supposed to be showered with confetti, but unfortunately my brother’s confetti machine did not work. After the quiz we were all called to the soccer field and my amazement kept growing. My little brother had prepared water balloons for everyone so we could have a battle. Since I was wearing a white lace dress, we decided not to throw the balloons at each other, but rather throw them in the air. It was wonderful and the (funny) photos we took at the soccer field turned out even better. The evening was wrapped up with lots of hugs and tears and I was overwhelmed with all the lovely cards, letters and gifts that I received. Miss Wilde, one of my teachers gave me the address and contact information of her son who is living in Hong Kong and promised me to have a dim-sum together. My German teacher had found a book about the adventures of a man on a boat that he wanted me to read, together with a lovely card depicting the “Young girl reading” by Jean-Honore Fragonard. My principal had made a CD for me with the “funniest, weirdest, most important and best pieces of German literature” for me. I received many more wonderful things to take to Hong Kong with me: T-Shirts, Berlin souvenirs, jewelry, pumpernickel (my favorite black German bread), sweets… Priceless “to-go” memories for my journey.
After the farewell-party was over and most of the guests had left, some of my friends stayed and helped me clean up a litte. Then we decided to spend the rest of the evening/night in a café at the Bergmannstraße, a beautiful street famous for its architecture and many cafés, and drink Chai Latte. Squished in the van of a friend we first went home, changed clothes (it started to get cool) and then went on to my favorite café in the Bergmannstraße: The Kaffee am Meer (Café by the sea). Since it was past 11pm they did not serve any hot food and drinks anymore, so we ended up being frustrated and buying something else instead. The evening was wonderful and after our late night dinner we decided to go back home. I did not know that the next surprise was waiting for me there. Right after we arrived, Amy insisted on needing internet. While we were all relaxing on the couch and I was thinking about the incredible day, she went surfing the web. At least that was what I thought until she called me and made me sit in front of the laptop. Suddenly everybody was silent. I stared at the screen, no, gazed at it, as a video with the title “Arzu goes to Hong Kong – a Farewell sendoff” started playing. After beautiful shots of Hong Kong to one of my favorite songs, video messages that my friends from all over the world had recorded for me started to play. I made it through the first message with wet eyes, but the more minutes of the video passed the more I started to cry. I could not believe that my closest friends who are now like family to me, even those who live on the other side of the planet, had taken the time to record this video for. I was crying the entire time and could not believe my eyes when a video message from my mentor from the US and my Turkish second-year from Hong Kong appeared. The beautiful movie ended with a version of “Diamond” by Rihanna that my friend Lou had written and sung for me. I could not hold back my tears and emotions. At this point I want to thank everyone for the unforgettable farewell. I wish there were words that could describe my feelings and appreciation… A special “Thank you” goes to my family and Ebru who set up the party and to everyone who dedicated their time to the video, especially Cole and Amy.
After I had calmed down a little it was time to read the guestbook, which all the guests had secretly written in during the farewell party. Reading all the lines that were written with so much love and looking at all the photos that were glued in it, made my cry again. I cannot express my gratitude for everything. Before the party I was only occupied with the thoughts and excitement about my next adventure in Hong Kong, that I did not realize how hard leaving everybody would be… Now I know that even though I cannot wait to finally arrive at LPC, saying goodbye to everyone and my life in Germany will not be easy. But as the quote above states, my friends and family will always be with me in my heart, no matter how far I go and where life takes me. And the good side about it is that everyone will receive lots and lots of beautiful postcards again!
Mahalo nui loa! And a hui hou.