Sunday, September 30, 2012

With Great Anticipation

Sarah Unruh and Nathaniel Brown enter
the first plane on their way to China.
I am on an airplane, flying to China.  I honestly never thought this day would come.  I think almost all children start out with the dream to grow up and have great adventures and travel to places all over the world.  I was no exception.  To actually be on a plane and outside of the United States for the first time in my life is a dream I doubted would ever become a reality.  Beijing, China is 4,041 miles away from our plane right now.  China.... the land so rich with history and tradition and beauty.

        Our first day was one of excitement and bonding for the eleven students, Dr. and Mrs. Mullinax, and nurse Lori Vanderpool.  We were not to meet any of our veterans or guests until the next afternoon in the Chicago O'Hara airport.  We had an exciting evening, with a lot of laughter and jokes that will not be forgotten as the trip unfolds.  As I look around at our group, I am so thankful for the bond we have already created.  There are so many different personalities on this trip, and we already encourage and enjoy each other so much.  Liliana Ovington will be my travel companion these next ten days.  I appreciate so many things about her already and although we didn't know each other well before this trip, I thank God that we are together and know that we will be a great team.

Mr. Liberatore wasted no time, and
 immediately began telling the students stories
from his past.

 Traveling is exciting, but there is a deeper excitement in my heart.  We are not just going to see the sights and taste the food, although we all look forward to those things.  This morning, as I shook the hand of Dominick Liberatore, the veteran that will be my companion and friend for the next ten days, and as he animatedly told some vivid memories of his adventures in China, I saw history for what it really is.  History is made up of experiences, feelings, courage and the process of overcoming one's fears. I could not have anticipated the thrill and excitement I felt as I listened to my veteran talk.  He remembers the exact times, to the minute, of so many incredible moments.  I was no longer standing in a Chicago airport with the noises of hundreds of busy people rushing by;  I was on a plane near the Statue of Liberty as Mr. Liberatore piloted it at wild angles, or diving in the Philippines for his lost ring. I know the things I learn here will never be forgotten, for this is the way history lives.  

- Nancy Kelley shares pictures and talks about growning
up in Qingdao.
        The veterans we met today, William Marsh and Dominick Liberatore, have already shared so many adventures and stories with us.  Another guest on our trip, Nancy Kelley, brought along a bag full of photo books and documents of her life in Qingdao.  Her excitement and shining eyes were reflected in the faces of the small crowd of students gathered around her as she showed us photos, explained Chinese traditions, and  told stories of her past.   I am so excited to see these places and hear the historical events that happened from the very people who experienced them.

I feel so blessed and grateful to be on this trip and cannot wait to share all that I learn in order to keep these moments in history alive.

 Laura Lingner

Mr. Liberatore wasted no time, and immediately
began telling the students stories from his past.

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