I will always remember this. This was on the day before my oral examination, the night that I bid farewell with the Hungarian dragonboat team. The team that had to wait forever for the transportation, got a gold taken away after the 2000 M race, and endured 3 fever-athletes during the 7 days stay in Kaohsiung. The team with the captain Mate, the odd man out Tomas, and the crew on the train station sky bridge. Oh, and the 46 gold medals from the worlds. Coincidentally I also met the general secretary of Hungarian athletes, Eva, and the incredible traumatologist of the Hungarian team, Pall. What a team, what a memory. This was for Kai-Yun the partner to read on the bus on the way to the airport. It turned out that I recieved their Hungarian cheers via the cell phone right after my bomb-blasting oral exam. It really was something. So here it is.
To My Dear Hungarian Paddlers,
As you are reading this letter, I am probably in the middle of an intense debate with my professors. Sunday was my last day with the dragon boat program, yet there are still a few words I would like to share with you all before I bid good-bye.
I will begin by telling how special it is to me as a resident of Kaohsiung to have you here. The road to host World Games 2009 in Kaohsiung in the past 4 years has been rough and difficult. Even just a week prior to the opening ceremony, the organizers still worried about filling-up the attendances and the reactions from the international athletes: we could only prepare our best and wait. We would like our international guests to feel welcome and discover the beauty of the city. Therefore it was wonderful to see all of you travelling comfortably in the city either by foot, metro, or even on little motorcycles, to the love river, world game plaza, or just anywhere. In preparation for the World Games, Kaohsiung has worked very hard to transform from an industrial city to the beautiful marine capital you see now. If you think it’s great to compete in Kaohsiung, we would like to tell you that the city has benefited from the event for more than you could imagine. Thank you for coming to here.
I will now tell you how special it is to me as someone growing up dreaming to become an athlete. I began rowing in jr. high school and fell in love with paddling. That is also why I chose dragon boat to serve as a volunteer. In you the dragon boat team, I saw the strong team-oriented spirit and the will to train in order to win. There were also the world-class paddling skill and the love for water sport. In you the Hungarians I saw people with both high-confidence and a big heart for new things. I also saw the dignities you displayed when in face of frustrations: I was glad that you didn’t unlock the boat manually like the Germans did after the officials agreed to unlock the boat. And of course, a sense of humor (Justice for Hungary!). It really has been an honor.
I don’t know if we’ll ever meet again, but I know I will be seeing some of you twice a week, at the train station. I don’t know which team will I serve next, but I know that you are the first Hugarians I’ve ever met, and I will miss that.
So, thank you for the national jersey, sorry about the bus-delays, and good-bye.
Hans, in Tainan, Taiwan. (July 20th, 2009)