Some say good and bad things come in threes. Celebrating the completion of our park was no exception: it occurred in three waves, which is fitting for a park named Tides. Each of us celebrated individually, as a group, and publically.
On my own ...
Alex asked us a week prior to completion what we were most looking forward to. I told him I was excited to experience the exact moment when I realized that our park was finished. I knew this moment would come, and I knew I would feel it just once.
When it did, it took my breath away! I walked around, noticed finishing details, and gazed at our park with the sea at my back. For the first time, I could really see what we had accomplished. I had been so involved in the everyday tasks that the end result snuck up on me. I had a moment of bittersweet understanding that our work here in Yantai was complete and the resulting park ... beautiful!
As a group ...
On the final morning we went to the park to view it one last time before giving it to the city of Yantai. We each brought intentional items — letters, mementos, wristbands, pictures, etc. — to place in a time capsule and bury on site. We agreed to return in fifty years to unearth our contributions.
We spent the morning together and digested our accomplishment, sharing the mixed emotions of seeing it all together, seeing our daily work turn into something tangible and beautiful, and trying to capture this touching sensation to place in our time capsule.
All the love we carried with us spilled out when each team member spoke words of gratitude for the experience. The sentiments expressed by all touched upon feelings of deep expansion, belonging, and understanding: all gained through the experience of coming together to design and build Tides Park.
As a community ...
Later in the day we cruised on our bicycles to the official public celebration. It was bold! Street parking was blocked by the local police for a couple hundred meters, reserved chairs awaited visiting delegates and city officials, and more. Fittingly, the site was decorated in red — red banners revealed the name of the park to the people of Yantai, a curtain of red sashes hid the pearl, and red sashes and certificates were to be given to us, the participants. The color red denotes good fortune in Chinese folklore and contemporary culture alike.
The head of Yantai Foreign Affairs spoke words of praise and excitement. The Vice Mayor shared his belief in Tide Park’s sentiments of peace and shared cultures. Kyle Bergman spoke for Pacific Rim Park, thanking the city and all of us for our support, and expressed the hope that more parks would join Tides Park in the Family of the Pacific.
One student from each country involved spoke of their experience. Their words touched the hearts of all in attendance. We received our certificates of participation and a round of applause broke over us like one last wave. Just as the ceremony concluded the rain fell once again.
It seems the rain always knows when it is time to end.