Thursday, October 16, 2008

Little Sisters

This is a long overdue tribute to little sisters around the world and to the families we forge out of friendship and circumstance. And here is to you my little Chinese sisters - the ultimate Joy Luck Club.

It takes a village to manage an Olympic Games hospitality program. Fourteen Chinese students – mostly seniors and first year grad students, selected during an intensive interview process last spring, joined my three overseas colleagues and me a week before the Games began.

Certainly for me, the opportunity to work side-by-side with locals united in a common cause is the highlight of the Olympic Games experience. There is no better way to see and understand another country or another culture and certainly no better way to have the various complexities of your own culture better understood.

Once introductions are made, we have one week to turn ordinary book-toting students into world-class Olympic Games event management experts. We were glued to the hip for a solid month and in that time we go from strangers and pilgrims to family. These kids are amazing and I imagine on some level their lives were quite changed by their Olympics Games experience.

I'd like for you to meet some of them – my little sisters - they are as beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside I grew to love them dearly and the impact they made on my life will travel with me forever.

Look in their eyes and see all the possibilities of change that China is capable of; the warmth and compassion of a generation charged with reshaping their world. Their spirit and grace is unfathomable. If it is true that we travel to seek our common humanity in the faces of strangers - than I have never felt more human or more hopeful for the future.

Says Marcel Proust, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

"Engaged travel teaches humility and mutual understanding, key ingredients for world peace." Kellie Jennar, Brave New Traveler

The Olympic Games brought us together; we strange pilgrims eventually arriving to an inexplicable understanding that we are all citizens of this world and thus charged with being good stewards of it. Its been said that engaged travel teaches humility and fosters mutual understanding - the basic building blocks for a more peaceful world. Working together, side by side, we tore down many an illusionary wall and in that place of division - laid the foundations for a culture of peace that should prove to have a lasting impact.

In this tiny room where we spent four weeks - the future of China emerges.  And this, my friends, is why I felt it was important not to boycott the Olympic Games.


Mary said...

They're beautiful. You capture their radiance so well, Tim. And as much as you admire them, I'll bet they will never forget their admiration for YOU! Your photos speak volumes. Just lovely.

Anonymous said...

very beautiful post

Anonymous said...

A beautiful post- beautiful people- and you were a life-changer for more than a few of them. What an uplifting message to start the day with!

The Proust quote is wonderful.

Oklahoma Girl said...

Beautiful, so very beautiful!! What a wonderful atart to my day. Thank you!! I always enjoy your photos & writings and look forward to each installment of your life & travels. You inspire me.

Blessed be...

Anonymous said...

Beautiful, I just loved it!

Anonymous said...

If they are in these pictures share which two were the ones who sang, in Chinese, "Happy Birthday to you" for my 8/8/08 birthday by phone! That was a fun surprise.

Again a wonderful post and a peek at the China I had hoped to see again this year. Look forward to seeing you back in OKC. 'til then onward in your mission of photos and writings. Saun

Anonymous said...

What a great post and I really like how your photos of them captured what you were saying. We're all just people, right? Great post!

kjpweb said...

I envy you for these experiences!
Remember the China images from years ago, where everyone was wearing the same grey uniform. How nice is it, that we now start to be able to see individuals - just like you and me!
Cheers, Klaus

Lana Gramlich said...

Thanks for sharing your little sisters (& those wonderful quotes. :)

Doug Taron said...

Beautiful post and photos. Unfortunately, the title put the thrash-rock song Sweet Little Sister by Skid Row into my head. Bad earworm- plus it's totally at odds with your delightful post.

Anonymous said...

I‘m Lynn~Your beautiful pictures reminds me the happy days we spent this summer. How's everything going those days?

Anonymous said...

Hi Tim, long time no contacting! I love those pictures, but I love more your words. I was regretful that I havent learned a lot from u, your photo-taking skills and your experience in writing. wish u everything well. Missing u, Laowantong.


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