September 26 marked the end of the Shangjing session of the Jinhua Homestay, the day on which the particpants left the village. At the first light of dawn, the hosts got up to prepare one last breakfast for their “international children.”
Twenty-one days of living together made the participants, volunteers and villagers one large community. The “international children” had the most unforgettable experience of their lives in China and left with eternal affection for their Chinese families. Each of them wanted to stay a bit longer, and when the time to get on the bus approached, they did not want to cross the thresholds of their homes.
The participants expressed their sincere wishes that time would move a little bit more slowly, but the time for their departure arrived nonetheless. The hosts held back their tears while taking their “international children” to the parking lot and reminding them to take good care of themselves and inform them when safely arrived at home.
When the time to leave could no longer be postponed, the participants, hosts and volunteers gathered together in front of the bus doors, embracing one another and saying emotional goodbyes. Everyone agreed not to say a final farewell but rather, “We’ll meet again in Jinhua.”
As soon as the buses left, nostalgia for the session began. In the WeChat group of Homestay 9, for instance, both participants and volunteers began to express their longing for their time together, which caused their host to tearfully reply, “Kids, I will miss you. Remember to come and visit me: my home will be always open for you!” (By Wu Qian -- Jinhua Daily, photographs by Huang Zezhen, translated by Marco Lovisetto, edited by Xiamara Hohman)