Happy Winter Solstice!

22 Dec

In China, the shortest day of the year is a pretty big holiday full of yummy food, friends hanging out together, and lots of memories.

 It is especially important this year to my seniors.  College in China is arranged a little bit differently than in America, or at least the program here at SIAS is.  The seniors won’t really be returning next semester; they will spend their final time at college working on a major thesis and getting practical experience in the big wide world.  While many of them have decided to stay in the area, life is changing for them right now.  No more classes all together, no more busy dorms and exciting group activities await them.  Mostly its a time for timid dreams and future worries; a time when they are reminded of just how precious this 3.5 year period, and these wonderful friends, have actually been.  

For the past seven semesters, each set of students have lived together (dorms are divided by major and year), studied together (as freshman, they are divided by major and exam-score, so that each group of students has every class with the same students for the rest of the school career), played together (KTV, KTV, KTV!!!), and grown together.  They encourage and prod and love each other to death for this brief, but much beloved time. Then, as it does for all college students, it ends as quickly as it began.  Suddenly, they find themselves drifting in different directions, with this one headed to Shanghai, that one to Australia, and these two King’s College in England.  They are realizing just how scary that future is and trying to cling to as much of their time together as they can.

Thus, Winter Solstice, the last holiday before the semester ends in China, is an especially important one for my students this year.  According to tradition, people must get together and eat dumplings on the Winter Solstice; otherwise their ears will freeze in the coming winter and they will both fall off.  Supposedly, eating ear-shaped dumplings will help you keep your ears warm in the future. It’s a time for friends, fun, and storing up great memories for the present. A time to love and remember that you are loved.  

So, in honor of my much beloved, parting students; they would like me to wish you the same spirit of the season. We would like to wish you all a very happy Winter Solstice. May today’s dumplings be your best dumplings! May all of your friends be present! and May all of your Memories be Cherished.


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