By Billy Lee – January 2020

Rushton Hurley, Founder and Executive Director of Next Vista for Learning ( ),  read the article, ’Seven Tips To International Friendship’ from . He immediately approached me and asked for an introduction to the author, Jeremi Snook, Executive Director of Journey- Friendship Force International  ( ).

Indeed, it gave me great pleasure to arrange this connection, because both of them are devoted to the same cause, and both have established platforms to promote THE SPIRIT OF INTERNATIONAL CROSS-CULTURAL FRIENDSHIP! It made my Winter Holidays 2019 the happiest One, indeed!

Andover Classmate George Rider, who attended Yale as I, sent out a challenge to our Andover-Princeton friends to submit news for the Andover Alumni News Magazine.  Within two days, two classmates responded although neither of them attended Princeton. One wrote joyfully in high spirit, but he informed us that he was writing to us from a Hospice. Yes, Jocko and I were both considered ‘Foreign Students’ at this New England Prep-school – I was from exotic Shanghai and he from the wild-west Wyoming. I decided to reconnect with him. I wrote to him with an attached video about Chinese Opera and told him that during my childhood days in Shanghai, my father had bought two ponies for my brother and me. My pony was especially sweet and proper. It always trotted behind my elder brother’s slightly taller fella. Subsequently I suffered quite a few times the accidents from behind-the-tail. I also asked him to check out the Chinese opera singing. They actually sound very similar to the famous howling winds in Western Wyoming.  Jocko countered with pictures of his cowboy country and said that he really enjoyed our holiday exchanges. Indeed, Jocko and I played soccer together at Andover in 1950-51. Both at the forward line had practiced swift short passes back and forth to each other. Now we are happy to connect by email, from wherever we are. This is what I call Rekindling Happy Childhood ( possibly Childish ) Friendship after age 85.

I was thinking about what meaningful experiences to share with good friends during this Holliday Season. I decided to explore various MOMENTS. Yes, there are the ‘AH-HA’ Moments. ‘MAGIC’ Moments, ‘MOST CONFUSED’ Moments, ‘FRIGHTENING- PANIC’ Moments,  and ‘WAKE-UP-CALL’ Moments, etc. etc.. Sharing intimate and personal MOMENTS, I believed, enhances BONDING.

A most ‘Magic Moment’ I had ever experienced was that morning when I arranged for a group of middle school students from Menlo Park, California to travel to Beijing to do a mural painting together with a selected group of Chinese students at the China National Children Center.  As the Chinese students, teachers, and their family members noticed that the American Guests had arrived at the main gate, 15 designated painter students started to line up in one row and their teachers and parents gathered behind them.  The American students without instructions instinctively marched forward and lined up in a row opposite the Chinese students, and their teachers and parents lined up behind them.  Ms Chen, the Chinese Activities Director, cheerfully welcomed the American guests and suggested to the students who were going to paint together to first close their eyes but stretch out their arms and walk slowly towards each other. That person whose hands they touch was to be his or her Painting Partner for the weekend.  The students had various facial expressions with their eyes closed – some anxious, some curious, some more determined, and few naughty with mischievous thoughts. Amazingly most adults from both sides were in AWE. They looked intensely at the children who were about to touch each other. Some smiled with lips sealed, a few were in tears. They, including myself, felt a special MAGIC MOMENT There is HOPE for PEACE, PURE FRIENDSHIP AND GOODWILL for our future generations.