Oh, the last days as a firstyear (Summertime in Wu Kai Sha)

I am back in Turkey after two weeks in the US and finally have time to cacth up on a few more blogposts before starting my second year at LPC!! I am flying to Hong Kong tomorrow night!!

It seems like it was just yesterday when I received my letter of acceptance to Li Po Chun United World College (and I do remember every single moment after opening that letter – from my parents protest of the fact that I would leave home again to the incredible joy that flooded the house). Well… now my first year at LPC has passed! Filled with incredible memories, academic stress and enlightenment, ups and downs and unforgettable projects. If I hadto name the most memorable events then – like everyone – I would definitely mention China Week and Project Week and a few others, such as the cultural evenings, but there is one more, which I will not b able to forget. It was not a particular day, no, rather a series of days, yet I have never felt so happy and so sad at the same time: the last days of my first year at LPC. The very last ones. The days on which we all packed our things into big boxes and bags to be stores over summer. The secondyears however packed their things in suitcases, not in boxes.

It was a realization that hit us hard. After a year of sharing everything – from meals to projects to rooms to bathrooms, it felt strange and wrong to accept that our secondyears would not return after summer, with a few exceptions at least. The “great packing” began. Boxes with things were everyone and piles of suitcases and bags were blocking the floors. It was astonishing to see how much stuff actually fit in our tiny little corners! I filled up 7 big black bags with clothes and other things and three boxes with decoration, folders, notes and little fragiles. (Organizing all my notes and files felt great!)

Considering the high percentage of humidity in Hong Kong, the secondyeas recommended to get a few dehumidifers to put into the bags and boxes in order to prevent things from molding or getting wet. As more than 100 of us were packing up things, dehumidifiers were not easy to be found in all the stores closeby and after hours of digging through welcome and the mall I finally got hold of dehumidifiers. Packing my things up took me two days, not only because I had a miraculously large amount of stuff, but also because packing things into the box made our corners transform into their original hospital-like naked state from the cozy place it had been throughout the year. As I took off all my pictures and posters from the wall, one by one, thoughts about the week ahead crossed my mind: two mjor events were waiting ahead; the “grand goodbye” and the Initiative for Peace End of Year Conference.

Ploy had her things packed up faster than me and so we spend the last night taping my boxes and foding up clothes. As every aspect of our experience at LPC, we decided to also share and exchange our clothes. Whenever Ploy found something in her closet that she did not like to wear anymore she would either put it in the dayroom for donation or give it to me and vice versa. We ended up exchanging a few shirts and donating an entire pile of T-Shirts.  When finally everything was packed up and all empty rooms on campus were filled with hundreds of boxes, bags, pyramids of chairs tables, sofas and other personal stuff  only my suitcase was left. Neveen (Palestine/Syria) was my helping angel, making sure that I do not exceed the weight limit for the airline and also do no carry any unnecessary things back home with me.

And so the last day came. Ploy, my roomie from Thailand was one of the first people to leave campus. We got up a little after sunrise, it was very early in the morning and equipped with backpacks and suitcases made ou way to the Wu Kai Sha MTR station where Ploy hopped on the bus to the airport. Having shared a room for one year, it was not easy to say goodbye but the thought of seeing each other again after summer made it a little bit better. Her departure was my kickstart for – as I would like to call it – the “gooodbye series”. As I was staying on campus for another week in order to facilitate the Initiative for Peace Conference (more about thaton th next blogpost), I got to see almost everybody off at the gate or bus station. At first I was incredibly happy to have the chance to walk all my beloved friends, especially secondyears to the gate and help them with the suitcases, rather than having to say farewell early and hope on the plane. However, the more people I walked to the gate, the more I became aware of the fact that after seeing everybody of I would be emotionally drained. UWC farewells are not easy. While we all know that we will see each other again in the US during college or in Europe, considering that it’s fairly close to “home”, there are always special people and friends who live on the other side of the planet and who we might not see again. With that thought in mind most of us joined the pilgrimage to the school gates to farewell our friends.

All of the goodbyes were difficult and resulted in tears. Everyhwere people were hugging and kissing each other, loud sighs and bittersweet smiles culd be heard and seen and letters and photos were exchanged as a little reminder of the beautiful times spent together. For three days the school gates were witness to great emotions. And every single day I was there from morning to evening with only short breaks for meals in between. I was commuting back and forth from my room to the gate and back, we all were. Two farewells particularly left a strong memory: when Lukas, my secondyear from Norway left, many of us and when I brought my buddy Shira to the gate.  We hugged for what felt too short, yet probably took 15 minutes, first exchanging “thank you’s” for the wonderful memories and then watching each other’s tears stream down. About two hours passed before Shira wen to the bus, equipped with her huge backpack. Three days of goodbyes passed and campus was left rather empty. Only the Initiative for Peace students, teachers and staff were left. We all moved to Block 1 for the conference. Amidst all the emotions it was great to hav scheduled the conference at the end of the year: it served as a “buffer” week for us. Despite one year of LPC being over it was not yet time to leave campus and be directly thrown back “into the real world”, as we would like to joke. We were still on campus, yet would be spending a week with non-LPC students, giving us the opportunity for a smooth transition.

Secondyears, thank you for the wonderful times and memories shared, you will be missed terribly! Let’s try to make the “goodbye” a “see you soon” instead! And as Dr. Seuss would say “don’t smile because it’s over, smile because it happened”

I wish everyone a lovely rest of summer and even though I am not in Hong Kong currently, I’d like to share with you the beauty of Wu Kai Sha during this season: it’s a video I came across by coincidence and it captures WKS summer bliss and lifestyle from a beautiful perspective: Oh, and photos of everything (Farewells in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Turkey…) coming soon! Enjoy: