Day Twenty - End of the Travel

Early before the morning dawned, Suzan got up. She prepared breakfast and then woke up everybody in the family.

As a matter of fact, we woke up even earlier. Waterland woke up at 2:00 in the night and continued to write his poem. Sima lied in bed with his eyes half opened, and his notebook had already slipped from his hand, which obviously indicated that he was jotting down his impressions on the USA. Dalin and I were busy packing our luggage for the last time. We would say goodbye to our kind hosts today and leave Pine Plains where we had stayed for 17 days.

I had been hosted successively by three hosting families in Pine Plains: the Frenzel family in 2000, 2003 & 2005, the Jones family in 2005 & 2006 and the Porter family in 2007. I was lucky to be given access to the most common people in the USA and to get first-hand knowledge of their families and how they lived, worked and even educated their children, which was not experienceable by those who only toured the scenic spots.

The American hosting families are warm-hearted and easygoing. When you sojourn in their families, they will let you know on the first day that you may open the refrigerator and enjoy any food they have, which represents their hospitality and, on the other hand, shows that the idea of "food is first necessity of the people" is true for all the countries.

In the daily life, they will take good care of you. For instance, they will kindly arrange accommodations for you, help you with the laundry, take you shopping, or even remind you of the itinerary for the day.

In order to make your "homestay" more efficient, it is important to show respect for your hosts. You should talk to your hosts as much as possible about each other's families, life, work and cultures, so as to achieve the best mutual trust and understanding.

Our suitcases had already been put in the aisle, waiting to be loaded into the cars. Suzan did not let us carry them, instead, she asked her two sons to help load them into the cars. She said that they were strong and ought to help their guests.

Having had breakfast, we were ready to leave our hosts'. We said goodbye to Michael, Suzan's husband, who could not see us off because he had to go to work early. Michael, same as Suzan, is also warm-hearted and ready to help others, but he is a man of few words. He said to me that he would like to visit China next year if possible. We are looking forward to his visit.

When Suzan and her son drove us to the school, it was already light. We saw quite a few cars stopping in front of the school building – most of our students had been brought to school by their hosts. After a while the four women teachers from our delegation came in the Jones' car. And the rest of the students also arrived one after another.

There was a touching scene when people bid farewell to each other. Endless embraces, lingering farewell, unbidden tears…. Though only in a dozen of days, they now could hardly bear to part from each other. Suzan didn't want to see more of the scene and said goodbye to us in a hurry.

At 8:30 am, our coach was starting slowly. I saw through the window that our American friends were waving goodbye to us. All of us could not restrain our excitement and waved back to them….

Adieu, Pine Plains! Adieu, the Pine Plains people! Let's meet again in Nanjing next year.