Passport, check! Medicine list, check! Packing list, check! Vaccines and certificates, check! Thermals, check! Down jacket, check! Luggage cleaned, check!
The first time I heard that my son was an official participant of the 2013 Xavier China Experience (XCE) Yunnan, I personally prepared a checklist of what needed to be done. But I took a step backward and remembered that he is all of 15 years old; not yet a man, but no longer a boy. So I made sure that he would play a big part in the preparation by letting him choose what he would need to bring and would just suggest and help in the packing.
Fast forward to October 25, 2013, day 0 of the 7-day cycle.
This was the day of the send-off Mass. It was also the last day of the 2nd quarter. Most of the Xavier boys were already dismissed by 12 noon and were enjoying the onset of the much coveted semestral break, while the XCE boys for Guangzhou, Yunnan, and Beijing marched to and converged at the Angelo King, Multi-Purpose Center, with bright eyes and big smiles to boot. The day before the Mass, I was asked by Mr. Mike Cuepo, XCE Yunnan Team Leader, to be a part of the offertory. Some of the boys from Grade 8, High 2, and High 4, offered samples of the XCE shirt and jacket, another parent offered the host, and I offered the wine.
As we listened to the readings, the Holy Gospel, and the Homily, it dawned on me that these XCE boys were about to leave in a few days. I was not even sure if my son was actually ready for this. However, I knew that he was just immensely excited and super ecstatic for this immersion, culturalization, and adventure in Yunnan, and that, to me, was what mattered most.
Fr. Ari bid the boys goodbye, and he assured the parents that we will see our sons go off as boys, but they will come home as men, much more responsible, much more disciplined, team players, flexible, and considerate. Armed with the 6 Cs (Culture, Character, Conscience, Compassion, Competence and Community) that Xavier has taught them ever since, they will most definitely be able to sharpen, harness, and hone all these Cs in China. To the boys, it is not just all fun, but also a lot of learning, and, yes, long hours of Chinese education. I am so sure that they have psyched their inner self in embracing everything Chinese in this academic endeavor, from classroom encounters, group mentoring sessions, sports, explorations, street food, night markets, banking, budgeting, interviews, interactions, and more.
I would tell and advise my fellow parents this: “Let them go. Let them be. Let them spread their wings and allow them to gain wisdom from it. Just make sure you have armed them with the essentials, and they will be fine.” Whether the parents listened or not, I was just happy psyching myself as well every time I said this statement. It worked both ways.
On the day that the boys left, I busied myself talking to Fr. Xavier, and the best thing he ever said to me was, “There is so much to be thankful for!” and yes, I just agreed with him and totally believed that our Lord will take care of them and will cover them with His blood as a mantle of protection. I also conversed with Mrs. Berras, my son’s supervisor for Bai Minority, and she was also as excited as the boys. I already thanked her (in advance) for taking care of our sons. I talked to other parents, took photos, and finally waved my last farewell. To my surprise, not a single tear was shed as I sent him with positive and happy vibes. I was just as excited as my son!
I know that he will make do and be fine.