On Wednesday, May 30, Bobby Baines left Zhanjiang Normal College. The man that started the Maryknoll program at this school oh so many years ago went out with an appropriate bang: a cookout, throngs of admirers (students, faculty, co-workers), happy and loud joyous and fun. After a few hours of eating and toasting and remembering, he dashed off into a cab, leaving his own party early and quietly, to avoid those long teary goodbyes, leaving everyone with memories of Bobby in his element.
Liam called me to make a toast last night. What could I say? Bobby'd been in Zhanjiang for years, as had many others. I was as much a blip on the Zhanjiang radar as its possible for a foreigner to make. So I just said what I felt: Bobby was a new friend, and it's sad to see him go; I'll miss those Sunday "meetings" and those breakfasts, sharing durian and pancakes; but I couldn't be too sad, because Bobby was simply leaving here; I know he's got a lot of work ahead of him.
It was a great night. Plenty of beer and wine to help with the reminiscing. It's a fun, unique, and great thing to drink with these people. So many lifetimes of experience and stories. We've all come from different parts of the world, different beginnings, but we're all here now, and last night, we got to share in Bobby's leaving. With Liam's Irish ballads, Anne's years of experience, and all the other talented people gathered there, I think we remembered Bobby just the way he'd want us to: loud and happy 'till nearly midnight.
Oh, and PS: 100th post! Whow!