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"I cannot believe it!" |
For how many times did the exclamation repeat at the Club's gala 3 days ago? I couldn't believe it if you said you could tell.
May 27, 2007 marked the 3rd anniversary of the founding of Colorful Domain English Club (Beijing), one of the most active and long-lived English clubs in the capital. How time flies! If you haven't been in the club for long or concerned yourself with it, you cannot believe the statistics, which, Hudson, the president and also the host that day, enumerated in his opening speech to highlight the Club's accomplishments over the past 3 years. Number speaks louder, do you believe it? Not fewer than 137 gatherings had been held very regularly since the club was born 3 years ago (including Christmas & New Year celebrations, outings, parties and etc). 346-strong people joined the club, among whom 26, extraordinary in initiative and creativity, had ever worked or been working as Club organizers, fulfilled the routine job, diversified programs in order to serve all the other members. More than 320 topics had been carefully selected and formally discussed. Hudson, however, regretted being unable to figure out how many speeches and presentations, very important training programs, had been delivered, how many drinks had been consumed and how many friends we had made, particularly important, how much progress the Club members had achieved. It's, definitely, countless and unfathomable, so I don't want to have a guess even, and you won't believe my estimate at all, no matter how hard I try.
I could not believe my eyes when I saw many old familiar faces fade in. In the end, 6 tables were taken by approximately 40 members, some of whom, Susan, Edward, Robinson, Shirley, for example, had been absent for more than one year due to their various personal reasons. I heard screams when Sharon and Raymond came. Sharon walked in, with her long-unseen mysterious grins and, surprisingly, a big piece of baggage in her hand. She, as we found out later, landed Beijing back from her American business trip at 4 am that morning and hurried over in spite of her exhaustion and jetlag. Hardly could we recognize Raymond. The previously husky and noisiest young man lost around 60 pounds and turned himself, successfully, into a deft and sexy( I don't use this word often) Latin dance pro.
We exchanged greetings, jokes, hugs, latest whereabouts and it, hence, looked more like a family reunion. Can you believe we were totally strangers a couple of years ago?
Two bottles of champagne were served in crystal glassware, as Hudson arranged. On behalf of all the organizers, Hudson expressed their heartfelt wishes to all the participants of good health, better English, and better future.
"You cannot believe what a handsome man I was 3 years ago." James asserted and showed his previous photos in dark-blue police uniform to confirm his allegation. He was, indeed, quite handsome in the photo, and I saw no significant change, honestly. He was the prepared speaker at the anniversary. In his speech titled the Three Turning Points in My Life, he convinced us his stardom in high school, elaborated about his choices of his university and working career. After his well-delivered speech, confident, humorous, and audience-oriented, he became more handsome, I felt. Confidence makes people agreeable and beautiful.
"I cannot believe that Hudson"s leaving." Some members still expected Hudson's departure was a joke or rumor. Nevertheless, he was confirmed to go to the Philippines for his second diplomatic term in the upcoming late June, and the Club's post-Hudson epoch was just around the corner. Lillian used to work with Hudson on the Club growth for more than 2 years. She spread over the news of Hudson's departure, called old members, and offered to launch a farewell arrangement for Hudson. She was always very thoughtful, creative, and responsible, as a result, a farewell for Hudson outweighed the celebration of the Club's 3rd founding anniversary at the past gathering.
We had to cancel the regular presentations, which were supposed to be made by each table about group discussion results. 6 tables, 6 presentations, and 40 minutes might not even be enough. It would inconvenience the restaurant, and also the diners for lunch, or even early dinner. Instead, Hudson reserved the time to deliver his farewell speech.
"I'd like to take this time to correct, the biggest mistake, you all have ever made here." It was the first sentence of Hudson's farewell speech. Can you believe it? "Many members are always thanking me for setting up the Club, overcoming tidal waves of difficulties, and making it roll for 3 years. On the contrary, I should thank all of you because I've, among all the club members, got the biggest benefit from the club activities and I've learnt a lot from all of you." Hudson's voice shocked. Due to excessive emotions?
Hudson was right. I see eye-to-eye with Alhaji at that point. Besides setting a good example of responsibility, patience, perseverance, generosity and comprehension, Hudson, noticeably, had upgraded himself greatly in various respects. He led his department's interpreter squad during the Sino-Africa Forum last November. He had ever hosted all sorts of events, including club gatherings, large-scale official parties, receptions, recreational contests, wedding ceremonies, and even funerals. He enriched his teaching expertise and communication skills, and became an experienced public speaker. He turned himself into a steadfast advocate for Chinese culture and fighter against westernization in the process of English study.
In his speech, Hudson extended his gratitude to many members, Bob (the co-founder of the Club), Frank (a learning-all-his-life mentor), Victor (a master in both Chinese and English languages), Lillian (his sister-like longest-term partner), Joyce (his closest and loyal associate), for example.
At the end of his speech, he appealed to his audiences to involve more into the Club, esp. Club operation, with the purpose of improving themselves comprehensively, or at least, continued their participation and support. "Don't be observers. The more you involve, the more competitive you'll become, thus, the more opportunities you'll get." he said.
Unexpectedly, hardly had Hudson finished his last presidential speech, Claude stood up, took the floor, and expressed his worries about the club management after Hudson left. He called the other Club organizers to face up with the challenges, to shoulder the responsibility and follow Hudson's example. Claude was a calling-a-spade-a-spade person, and I believe, everyone shared his view that the club should be better in the future.
It was almost 1 o'clock in the afternoon, and the morning gathering had to be put an end to. However, it was just the half time of Hudson's farewell party. Lillian made a reservation of a 15-people room at the newest Party World near the Lama Temple, but 30 people said they wanted to join. We moved to the karaoke palace and took another room. The two rooms exchanged members and we enjoyed ourselves very much singing, dancing, chatting. Alhaji and Hudson showed off their singing talents, and Raymond his dancing endowment.
Hudson's eyes popped up when he opened the thick album, a souvenir Lillian handed him. Before Hudson began to read the album, several members grabbed the album and glanced through the works, openmouthed. The book, titled Impress Hudson, was a complete collection of meeting reports, artistic records of the Club gathering each week over the past 3 years, written by Hudson, Lillian, Joyce, Alhaji, Crystal, Amber, May, Kara, and so on. Some of the reports were written around midnight, or 3 am in early morning. It was the Club's chronicle, a history book. It also worked as the advertisement of the Club, the vivid and well-done description attracted many strangers to join the community. There was something more about the album. At the beginning of the book there were a package of prefaces written by June, Wendy, Amber, Dennics, Kristine, Lillian, Sherry, Crystal, Bob and Joyce. They reviewed their first meeting with Hudson, and expressed their gratitude, recognition and respect to the strong-minded president. The album was also illustrated with some photos taken when the club discussion was going on, during outings, at parties during the past 3 years. The hardcover album was so delicatedly made, and I've only seen something similar at the People's Grand Hall about Chairman Mao. Attached to the album, Lillian presented a folding card, on which every participants wrote down their best blessings and autographs.
Hudson stroked the album and card from time to time, and promised to take them to the Philippines as his talisman.
Lillian did everything, news briefing, calling old members together, designing farewell party and the album and card, collecting prefaces, having the album edited and printed, arranging transportation, and so on. What a girl! I cannot believe Hudson's even able to do it.
It was a package program. At 4 o'clock the Karaoke show was over, we took pictures together but didn't want to leave. So we, around 18 people, drove to a nearby restaurant to continue our talk. When we felt hungry, we ordered food, and kept on talking and having fun until 8 o'clock.
Before bidding farewell to him, I asked Hudson, confusedly: "Hudson, I feel, sometimes, you're so cold-blooded. If I were you, I would surely be in tears many times." Hudson lowered his head and remained silent for a short while. When he resumed his look at me, Hudson answered: "I held my tears, although I've never been so moved by the party, so many friends, and the best souvenir I've ever received." "Anyhow," he added: "I'm not leaving; and my heart is with them, forever."
[ Last edited by skylinker at 2007-5-31 10:21 AM ]