Summer 2007 was a trying and ultimately triumphant time for us. Jackson had just been diagnosed with leukemia in May. Besides shock and sadness, I felt like I were carrying the weight of the entire world. We had made plans for the children to attend the summer program Yinghua-in-Beijing (a program designed for children aged 8-14 from the U.S. to experience China and to learn the Chinese language), led by Bonnie Liao (Jackson's classmate from Beida and a trusted, respected friend of ours) and for me to tag along, not as a parent, but as Bonnie's assistant. Given Jackson's diagnosis, should we change our summer plans or should we carry on with life as planned? Upon Jackson's persuasion, we decided on the latter.
That summer, Luran (then 10), Yiran (8) and I spent a total of 7 weeks in China – 4 weeks of YiB Program in Beijing and Huairou, 1 week of YiB Optional Program in Inner Mongolia, and 2 weeks with relatives in Beijing and Shanghai. During the 4 weeks of YiB Program, I wrote a detailed message to all parents every evening (except for three days in August when I attended a conference in Nanjing), reporting and reflecting upon the day as I experienced it and as I witnessed how the children (all children in the program, not merely my own) experienced it. As I wrote each and every entry, I of course had one parent particularly close to my heart – Jackson, who was undergoing initial stages of leukemia treatment back home in Long Island, New York.
By the end of that summer, Luran and Yiran gained a unique experience that will be etched in their memory for life and I acquired the courage and confidence to nurture and guide the children by myself alone, when/if I need to.
Here are the daily journals from those summer days.
|2007 July / August|