What a delight! My team and I first met Catherine Qu in 2011. She was one of the students that was majoring in English that attended our classes where we were teaching at Nan Hua Da Xue, (the University of South China), in Hengyang, Hunan. Catherine was… chatty. We lovingly called her Chatty Cathy.
Please understand that we called her this with fond affection. We loved Catherine. She was outgoing, fun, conversational, warm and loving. She couldn’t seem to get enough of our fellowship and we loved her just as much.
Catherine pretty much stayed with us every day that we were in Hengyang. She worked very hard to see that we were comfortable, had what we needed from the store, and went with us just about everywhere to act as our translator. She wanted to do this so that she could practice her English and we were happy to oblige her. She was sad when we had to leave her to come home.
In January 2012, when I realized I would be going back to Nan Hua Da Xue, with a new group of Harding students Catherine was one of the first people I emailed to inform of our arrival in May. That year she showed up at our apartment the very first day. Catherine was knocking on my door about an hour after we arrived. She had been inquiring with the university directors of the exchange program to find out what day we would arrive and how she could be a part of our welcome party!
Catherine soon became a favorite of my new students. She showed her fun and loving personality in many ways. In fact, the second year may have been even more of a forever-relationship than the previous year of students. When it was the day for us to leave Hengyang Catherine cried tears of sorrow because we were leaving. We all told Catherine how much we loved her and that we would stay in touch via social media and other ways. It was sad… as our taxi pulled away heading to the train station she cried harder. All of us had a bit of a moment ourselves.
Catherine graduated from Nan Hua with a major in English and moved to Shenzhen, near her hometown. Catherine is working for an Internet marketing business. It is her job to translate the Chinese to English and repost the copy for others to read and (hopefully) purchase.
I hadn’t seen Catherine since 2013. I returned to China every year (except 2015) but never was able to connect with her in person, until last month. Catherine and I communicated via Facebook about where I was going to be and when. We tried to figure out what days we would be close to each other. She volunteered to take a Saturday and travel to Guangzhou where I was located.
I arrived at our meeting place and sat down to wait for her. She was so much more familiar with Guangzhou than I was that we agreed that she would come and find me instead of me trying to find her. A few minutes later… Catherine Qu walked back into my view, live and in person! It had been five years since I saw her but she was the same energetic, fun and crazy Catherine that my students and I had all grown to love and adore!
Catherine and I sat in the hotel lobby for more than an hour talking, laughing and reminiscing about the days that we were all at Nan Hua Da Xue in Hengyang. Sydney and Kory Queen, must have had their ears burning because we talked about how sweet they were and that we both missed them so much.
Catherine wanted to take me to lunch. I always try to talk my guest into letting me host these lunches, but that’s a hard argument to win. Catherine wanted to make sure that I was eating what she considered good Cantonese food, otherwise known to the rest of the world as Dim Sum! Dim Sum is a style of Chinese cuisine prepared as small bite-sized portions of food served in small steamer baskets or on small plates. Dim sum dishes are usually served with tea and together form a full tea brunch.
The restaurant was a short subway ride away. The wait line at the restaurant was relatively short, about 30 minutes. I don’t usually mind the wait at restaurants like these. To me it means the food is good! This serving of Dim Sum proved my theory. We ate Dim Sum, drank Chinese tea that was prepared a cup or two at a time at our table… It was so typical Chinese, LOUD and crowded, but I was with Catherine Qu so I was soaking up every minute.
After lunch we walked around, ended up at the seating area of my Hotel lobby again until Catherine had to go. It was so good to see her. The last time I saw her before this meeting Catherine cried big tears as we all left and waived to her as we drove away. I jokingly told Catherine not to do this to me again. She agreed… We said our goodbye’s, and she walked away. Then I teared up!
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Steve Shaner, also known as Xie Yeye, is a professional story teller that delights in traveling to meet new and old friends. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.