Another stride, even harder.
All the way up to the New Cemetery, the cement road cracked. The blowing wind in New England made the withered grasses rampage ceaselessly. In the air, the crispy fragments of dead leaves hit the tombstone. They hit my bare arms, too – my flesh crept. I let it splash on me: I know that was the surge of the vibrance of life. I’m back, my dear old buddy.
In the fall of my freshmen year in high school, I ran into the New Cemetery during an X-Country practice. Seeing no one running in front of me, I realized that I got lost.
When I just crashed into this new culture, I had the same confusion. My hometown is a spring city that never snows. There, people wander aimlessly, idling as they were immersed in honey-sweet. But in New England, winter came sooner and harsher than I’ve expected. I thought it would only be a matter of time for me to get used to this rampant coldness, but the longer I live in the cold, the more violently homesickness would hit me – no matter how thick my winter coats were.
The wind was roaring. As I ran up the hill to New Cemetery, I burst into tears. The winter came more fierce than I’ve prepared for, so did the challenges of adapting to a new culture. The carings from my home sweet home were twelve hours away and already lost their warmth. I longed for new friends, but I could not make myself another joke by just talking to people and not making sense.
New Cemetery appeared softer with the snow. It embraced me quietly. Now I heard a sonorous crying, the crying that was not mine: Like all the other lives in this woods, it danced and rampaged, as it would never die away, never ceasing the rebellion against absurdity and ruthlessness. I believed it to be a prophecy – it tells me to fight the gap between me and the new world, no matter the wretched. Starting on that day, going up to the cemetery to shadow after speeches and yelling English literature out loud became a part of my daily routine. The crazy it seems, it brought me so much comfort.
Up climbing was icy and slippery, but it could not stop me from striding.
This cemetery became more of a home for me. It has been shielding me and witnessing the progress of me making new friends. My friends and I were like those wild grasses that grew out of limits, and we were grateful for each other’s existence and help. We went to Nanjian to live with the Dai people, living their reality and their crisis of being assimilated and their powerlessness of defending their cultural identity; We climbed to the rooftop of a 280-meter skyscraper in Shenzhen, having a glimpse of how the city grows; we traveled through city parks, morning markets in Kunming, resting at places where people live furiously. We explore the topic of the connection between the world, ourselves, and life. We grew wilder together. We act on our values and never stop. We all want to be that wind in New Cemetery, empowering other lives with our own lives. We went to New Cemetery together, and here, we paint the future.
New Cemetery became my confidant and my supporter. It witnessed how I climbed out of the helpless abyss, and it witnessed my growing interests and determination in bringing an educational revolution in my home city: After realizing the unequal educational allocation that constrained the children from having the rights they deserve, I dedicated myself to forming a systematic mentorship training. I want to bring the children here a vibrant life. I explore every corner of my home city extensively, either the market hall, the residential neighborhood, or different colleges, in this limited but diverse city, I try to hunt for what the students left behind home could learn from.
In a fast-pacing world like the one we are living in, we left so many opportunities unheeded and moved on. Someone needs to walk the students around, and show them how to develop curiosity and explore the world around them, and make the most out of it – and that happens to be us, we are missioned to bring a revolution.