A letter to Tianyue’s parents

MARY CLARE EDWARDS — I met Tianyue Li this past winter break on a volunteer trip that took us to East St. Louis, Illinois. We became close on the trip and good friends when we returned to campus.

I feel lucky that I met Tianyue on that trip. We shared many car rides together and when it was her turn to play music in the car we listened to her favorite artist, Greyson Chance. I listen to his music often now and think of Tianyue. She told me she was excited to see him perform live in San Francisco over spring break.

I shared a room with Tianyue and her close friend Jiayi on that trip. She could have easily only spent time with Jiayi, but both of them were so kind and made the effort to get to know me. Later in the trip I told Tianyue that I was also born in China. Tianyue stayed up late with me and answered a lot of my questions about Chinese culture. She even offered to help me practice Mandarin. Tianyue was my first friend at Denison that was a Chinese international student. She genuinely wanted to get to know me even though we grew up so differently.

When the trip ended I saw Tianyue on campus a lot. She worked at the gym and I would always enjoy catching up with her while she managed the front desk. She was always smiling and willing to share her Denison experiences with me. We both were taking a lot of communication classes this semester and we would both laugh about how we had too much homework and how we initially thought communication was going to be easy.

Tianyue was a very caring person. My roommate needed a better job and she went out of her way to ask her manager if he could hire another student to work at the gym. She would also get dinner with me and talk about her study abroad experience in London. This fall I will be doing the exact same internship program she did. She showed me pictures of where I will be living in London and advised me to take classes at a partner university. I know my study abroad experience will be better because Tianyue took the time to answer my many questions and share her experiences with me.

I feel so fortunate to have become close with Tianyue these past few months. She was deeply involved on campus as a public relations officer in Asian Culture Club and as a study abroad ambassador. She worked hard in her communication classes that have a lot of reading. She supported her friends and told me to come to Jiayi’s theater performance. She was driven, and told me about how she was applying to graduate schools and fitting in interviews between classes. She kept a job and always wanted to talk when I ran into her working at the gym. She was willing to try new things, which is how I met her on the volunteer trip. I saw how big of a heart she had as we spent the week working with children who were living in poverty. Tianyue touched my life in so many different ways and I will think of her when I am abroad in London. I will never forget her and our time together. She told me that her parents met while they were in college. I am so happy I found a good friend like Tianyue here at Denison.

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