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Rekindling Friendships on the Road

Former HKIS art teacher David Kohl writes to us on his 8000-mile epic journey to reconnect with over a hundred former HKIS students and colleagues.

It’s hard to imagine a more rewarding experience for a teacher than to meet up with successful former students. In most disciplines, professionals work with people in need (doctors, dentists, lawyers, etc) but rarely get the joy seeing the positive benefits of their involvement. Last January, it was my good fortune to meet up with over a hundred former HKIS students and colleagues, in 13 cities, over an 8000-mile journey via Amtrak.

Not wanting to spend all of my winter feeding my woodstove in Oregon, I decided to book a 30-day rail journey, utilizing Amtrak’s “North American Rail Pass.” I thought it might be fun to ride the rails, visit and stay with friends and alumni, and even promote the “DragonTaels” book of alumni memories which I had compiled for the 40th Anniversary. Via e-mail and the DragonTrain, helpful alumni and I set up gatherings in Minneapolis, Chicago, Buffalo, New York City, Boston, Portland (ME), Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Washington DC, St. Louis, Dallas, Austin, and Los Angeles.

I was rewarded with some wonderful mealtime meetings, overnight visits and discovering local museums and Chinatowns - while laughing, reminiscing, networking, and celebrating both Hong Kong International School, and the Christian spirit which so contributed to our mutual caring for each other over the years.

I also found that there is little distinction between faculty and students - we are all just alumni of a remarkable and life-altering experience at HKIS. Sometimes, there were alumni who I had never taught or even met, from classes as early as 1968 and as recent as 2003. No matter the age, we found instant connections thru the Hong Kong experience, discovering overlaps of career, education, travels, or family.

Conversations sounded like:
“Did you know…
“He was my brother’s best friend…
“She was my roomate at…
“I went there too…
“Wasn’t she the one who…
“I remember Mr… He used to…
“Whatever happened to…
“I didn’t know her, but we lived in their flat years later…
“The assignments Mrs… gave us made such a difference when I got to college…
“We were on the same Interim trip…
“Remember the time when…

I also had some fairly unique adventures on this wintertime trip - leaving Minneapolis in -15 degree weather; watching Pat Hotung play hockey in Buffalo; getting a tour and research time in the stacks at the Library of Congress with Ann Sullivan; arriving just in time to watch the Super Bowl with friends of Patrick Pang in Philadelphia; exploring coastal Maine with Ian Geopfert;being put up in the executive suite of Gregg Saunders’ hotel in Austin; attending church in St. Louis with many friends and alumni hearing Libby Wallis Reinking preach (followed by dim sum for 25); digging thru church archives with Lois and Fritz Voelts plus Karl and LaVerne Boehmke;mobbing an Los Angeles chinatown restaurant with 32 alumni for dim sum. Is it possible to have too much dim sum? (you all know the answer to this one!)

Be assured, wherever two or more HKIS alumni gather, a good time will be had by all. I encourage you to reach out, find alumni in your geographic area, set up a gathering. The energy and spirit is one of our special heritage as HKIS alums.

Source:  DragonTales  Volume 10 Winter Edition 2008