Cindy was in her early twenties. She was born and grew up in Yangshuo where we were staying. She went to an elementary school that was not all that much more modern or equipped than the school we had been serving in. She was going to school part-time in pursuit of a degree in the hotel and hospitality industry. Her fluency in Mandarin was invaluable as was her knowledge of all the camera shops around town where we could stop and get Mr. VanNoord AA batteries for his camera. Again.
Adilah, in her late twenties, was born in Malaysia. She was of Malay and Chinese ancestry. She came from a Muslim family and spent the week making a concerted effort to avoid all the Chinese dishes with pork in them (which was many of them). Adilah’s Chinese grandmother had her feet bound as a young girl. It was a little surreal for me as an American teacher in charge of a group of Hong Kong students to be lead around the interior of China by a young woman from Malaysia. Adilah recently became engaged to a British man from Hong Kong.
Phil was a young man in his mid-twenties from the US Midwest. Unlike Adilah who was on staff fulltime, Phil was a seasonal hire. We were his last service/tour group for the season. After our group left for Hong Kong, Phil had a couple of day’s worth of work to wrap up with Dragonfly and then he was done. He was planning on spending some time traveling around Southeast Asia sightseeing and visiting friends. In a week or two or three, he was going to jump on the internet and see what other international seasonal work was available for the winter. Several times during our week together I asked him where he thought he might end up? Europe? South America? Africa? He said he genuinely didn’t know, but was sure that –thanks to the internet- he would be able to line something up.
The internet? Really? It’s seriously that easy?
Man, I was born twenty years too earlier.
I even own a big blue backpack and everything.