Farewell Grant and Paula.

I have to give my farewell speeches today. Here’s what I have written for my dear friends the Welshes:

grant and paula

I really have my son to thank for my friendship with this wonderful couple. Although I’d like to think we’d have all become friends otherwise, it was my son Paul, and their son Connor who are responsible for the start of something so great. They became instant best friends in their preschool class, and their friendship has led to so many connections in the past three years. It led to our ayis becoming inseparable, which led to many shenanigans by our respective children. But although the bond was made by our kids first, my connection to these two very different, yet very lovable people has strengthened over the years we’ve known each other.

I got to know each of them individually, not as a couple, which is a little bit unusual especially in our small world of Shekou. But I have been so thankful to have them each as a friend, and their children in my child’s life.

I am lucky to call Paula my hiking buddy. Many of you may not see us together socially or even at work, but each week we hike Nanshan Mountain together, twice. It’s a ritual that started two years ago and is not just good for our bodies (which is questionable sometimes), but it is good for our souls as well. Struggling up those steps each time has led to the unburdening of emotions and confidences. When we get to the top, the breeze that welcomes us gives us the energy to start another day, another week. I have seen Paula’s strength and love and compassion, in her actions and her words. She never gives up and I admire that so much especially in her lifestyle change to become vegan.  I will miss her as my hiking buddy, but mostly I will miss her calming presence, and unwavering advice on so many things, big and small. She is a part of numerous people’s lives here, she loves each individual and gives her time and open heart to so many. She’s definitely made an impact on her students and coworkers because she is a caring and considerate teacher as well. I know she will continue to be an amazing mother, wife, friend and teacher in her new location and I can’t wait to hear the adventures.

I can’t remember the exact moment I met Grant, but I do remember lunches shared in the teachers’ lounge discussing everything from students to vegan food to travel stories. My first year here I felt like I was on the outside looking in, and he was one of the first people to open the door. He would drop by my classroom and chat and give advice about easier travel methods, where to go. We’d talk about our kids and whatever trouble they’d been up to together. He was outspoken and opinionated, basically everything I was not, but somehow we connected. He knew exactly when to bring me M&M’s and I knew when he needed a Coke Zero. Before I switched campuses, we traveled to Nepal together for Week Without Walls and we complemented each other nicely. He’s a planner, I’m a worrier, and it all worked out perfectly.  The students loved his sense of humor contrasted with my motherly disposition. And as many of you know, his quiz knowledge is endless, I have to say I won’t miss losing every quiz to this guy. But I am so grateful for my friendship with Grant because he could always give me a different perspective or solution when I was looking for one. And he’s really fun to be around.

These two people have been so much a part of our daily life in our time in Shenzhen. It’s hard to believe they won’t be here next year.  I know we’ll stay in touch and see each other again sometime soon, but in the meantime I want you guys to know how much you’ll be missed. Not just by me, but by so many of us here at QSI Shenzhen. Just know that  Paula-I will cherish our time on that mountain forever, and Grant-I will miss our easy chats and your hugs. Best of luck in Georgia.

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