What started out as a way to help one of the new international students transition into Saint Viator, led to a lasting friendship that not even Jack Geary ’18 and Haoquing Bi ’18 could have predicted.
“Our friendship grew tremendously from his first day at Viator,” Jack says. “We always talked about me possibly going back to China with him, but the closer we got to senior year, the more serious we got about it.”
Sure enough, the two flew to Haoquing’s native Bejing earlier this summer, for what turned out to be a once in a lifetime trip.
“Before I knew it, I was sitting next to him on a 12-hour trip to China,” Jack said. “It still didn’t feel real when we landed that I was on the other side of the world.”
Mrs. Rose Ruffatto, director of the Rev. Mark R. Francis International Program, says that while the program is intended to help international students succeed academically and socially, the benefits for Saint Viator students are just as important.
“We hope to create lifelong friends and global awareness with our students.” Ruffatto says, “but as far as I know, Jack was our first student to visit one of the international students in their home country.”
Over the next two weeks, Haoquing showed Jack everything from the Forbidden City and its miles of palaces to the emperor’s Summer Palace and the Great Wall.
“It was a breathtaking view every step of the way,” Jack says.
The second half of their trip included a bullet train ride to Shanghai, as well as a trip to the bottom of Mount Huangshan and hiking up the Yellow Mountain, and taking in the famous Terra Cotta warriors, all before heading back to Jack’s home in Beijing.
“I’m truly grateful to have experienced such an amazing trip. But it wouldn’t have been possible without Haoqing,” Jack says. “Saint Viator provided me with a friend for life and a trip full of memories that will last a lifetime.”