Barbeque Is Universal

Tonight we are at a b-y-o barbeque restaurant. These restaurants line the Yantai boardwalk—all outdoors, with long, communal tables, and grills. The beach reaches right up to their concrete foundations. Locals like to frequent these joints, and in the summer many Yantai residents enjoy their Friday evenings here. We are surrounded by other large groups of people enjoying the summer and simply being together.


The man we saved from drowning insisted on hosting a barbeque for our team in gratitude. He is here with his two sons and a few friends. Even the sunset seems to be partaking  in our celebration. We watch the last light frame Yantai Mountain in the distance. The sleepy sunrays dance in shades of pink, orange, blue, and purple. They wiggle in the watery rivulets left bare on the beach by the receding tide. It seems impossible to have a more beautiful night for a barbeque.


At one point, Francisco turns to me and says, “I think barbeque is universal.” I turn and look at everyone on our team. We were all chatting, cooking, laughing, drinking, and/or dancing. Daniela is teaching three students how to salsa dance on our beachfront stage. One student represents Mexico, another China, and the other Russia.  I smile at this beautiful moment. Easton, who is sitting in the chair next to me, also observes the dance floor and says, “Where else would you ever see that? I don’t think that happens.” I think Easton is right.


This moment shows us how our project has become so transformational. It is a gift to be here. We are becoming better workers and people, and some of us are even learning how to dance. We are a sight to see as we twirl away on a balmy beach night. We match the fresh starlight with our connection and energy, and our hearts soar with the knowledge that we are a part of this big, beautiful Pacific Rim Park Family.