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Thursday, May 23, 2024
The Observer

Sadness won’t come until the last minute of saying goodbye

When I was overwhelmed with all the papers and the COVID-19 news, I didn’t think about graduation.

Pessimistically speaking, I don’t think me and my friends are able to see each other in the future because we all leave for different countries. However, all the emotions just don’t come as they should. The more you try to be sad intentionally, the less you feel, and it sucks.

It was not until one of my friends was leaving for Egypt really soon that the sadness suddenly gushed in my mind. I realized he was like a big brother who always took care of everyone’s feelings, including mine. He would choose not to go to the bar with other friends and accompanied me to a restaurant if I forgot to bring my passport. The mix of feelings, the appreciation that never been spoken out, the sadness that we won’t see each other again, made me feel tears in my eyes.

Like many men, we immediately switched to another topic to avoid being emotional (the toxic masculinity). We clapped hands. We hugged. We said goodbye.

This is the first farewell for me at Notre Dame, and there are more to come. All the subtle and beautiful moments will flash before my eyes when saying goodbye, and I know I will cry. 

It started to rain when I wrote these words at midnight, like many other rainings in the summer where the farewell comes. 

Me and my friends are all international students at our program. We came to Notre Dame because we’re guided by similar beliefs — the beliefs that have so many names in different cultures, religions and languages, but with the same essence: freedom, equality, dignity and love.

But our life is not always as serious as our work of human rights. We made eye contact and winked in class. We gossiped and laughed in the common rooms in the law school. We watched Harry Potter every weekend.

Diversity expands our horizons. We held a party where we cooked food from China, Mexico, Afghanistan, Pakistan and South Africa. We sang “happy birthday” in different languages and waited for the birthday boy/girl to blow the candle. We shared different experiences and opinions from different backgrounds. We broke stereotypes and eliminated ignorance by respecting, accepting and understanding each other. This process won’t happen once I go back home, and I’ll miss it.

The close friendship starts when we truly get to know each other as individuals. I sat with one of my friends studying together in the law school library for the whole winter. In the afternoon, the sunshine went through the colorful glass and fell on her brown hair, and the whole space was filled with warm and beautiful tranquility. We would sit until night fell, pack our stuff, wave and say “see you,” like we would always see each other again.

When not feeling like studying, I would sit in the common room, waiting for my friends to show up to hang out, and they always did. We sat and talked about everything in our lives. When the sun went down little by little, we said goodbye, and we knew we would see each other again.

We’ve also done crazy things like when we went to a building at 2 a.m. and took photos, posing as the cast of “Friends.” The laughter in the midnight of summer resembled the youth of high school.

Living in a foreign country far away from old friends and family can be hard sometimes. There has been a period of time that I felt depressed while many friends supported me, consoled me and told me, “I will always be there for you.” We held each other like brothers and sisters. Their warm kindness saved me, and I will always remember it.

It took time for people to truly get to know each other, and one year is an unusual time. However, once we started to feel really close, it was time to say goodbye.

We come from different places all over the world. We gathered at Notre Dame for one year. Then we left for different places again.

Notre Dame is only one small stop in our lives, among so many other stops before and after. I’m only one of the people, among so many others, that my friends have met, and will meet. 

While I don’t know how much space I can occupy in other’s memories, I said to every of my friend, “Please don’t forget me.”

And my only hope is:

If I won’t be able to see you in the future, I’ll send my simple, while best, wish to you: Have a wonderful morning, afternoon and evening the very next day.


Zixu Wang was the first-ever Director of Diversity and Inclusion and is graduating with a degree in Master of Law in International Human Rights. He is currently unemployed and waiting for some miracle to happen during COVID-19, but he may also go back to Beijing to resume his journalism career. If you want to become the best lawyer in a newsroom or the best journalist in a courthouse, please write to him via

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.