My Bittersweet Goodbye

June 1st. It’s supposed to be the start of a new month, like the birth of summer supposedly. Really, what student doesn’t look forward to hearing that June had rolled around? It either means you’re already out of school or you’re on the brink of ending school and that is much more exciting than presents on Christmas!

But for me, it was one of the saddest days of my life.

Because it was on June 1st 2009 that the JRYC had its last meeting of the year.

It was on June 1st 2009 that I graduated from my two years on the Jade Ribbon Youth Council.

It’s one of the those things that you try to prepare yourself from crying, but when you begin to remember, or when you realize that you’re losing a part of who you are, you cry anyways.  To be completely honest, I cried last year when my beloved friends of the past JRYC graduated, and I cried even harder on the drive home this past Monday.

The people I’ve met, the stories I’ve heard, the experiences that I have gained are irreplaceable. The smiles, the laughter, there isn’t a single moment I’ve spent on the council that I regret, nor is there a memory that isn’t bright associated with the JRYC.  From meetings, to screenings, to the Tet Festival, to the Chinese New Year Festival, to city proclamations, to Hepatitis B Awareness Week, to the Youth Leadership Conference, 2 years have gone quickly but overflow with such sweet recollections.

I keep wondering what I will do with my Mondays, how they will never been the same seeing those familiar faces.  I know I’ll miss, as Dylan, a former member of the JRYC who graduated last year, used to say, all the “inside-jokes” and desperately hold onto the ones I have. And since I’m off to college on the East Coast, I won’t have the luxury of traveling every month back to the Asian Liver Center to see how all my JRYC babies are progressing.

But then I realize I’m acting as if I’ve lost something, as if someone’s ripped out an important part of my heart and has kept it hostage in front of my eyes. And yet that’s not true at all.

Because, I haven’t lost the Jade Ribbon Youth Council and I’m not ever going to.  I can’t even begin to list all the happy memories being on the council have graced me with.  Or what it has done for me in the past two years.

Being on the council has made me more proficient in foreign languages. I’ve learned how to put together an entire event, not just as a leader, but just as part of an equal team.  It’s opened my eyes to a plight that has been blind-sighted, and handed me the skills to open the eyes of so many others. It’s made me confident enough to make a fool of myself in front of unknown high school peers and yell in an old Cantonese, unemployed male persona.

And someone I’ve managed to become the Council’s official photographer, though to be honest, it was the Jade Ribbon Youth Council that made me love photography even more and I’m not that fantastic at it.

It’s given me life-long friends, it’s given me perspective, it’s given me a family, and most importantly, it’s given me a cause to believe in.  And these are all points of character that can’t easily be taken from me as they’re who I am now.

So to my JRYC family, I want you to always remember how much I love each and every one of you and that no amount of words can express how wonderful you’ve made these past two years.

And know this, no matter what I do at U Penn or where the future might take me, you’ll always be in my heart and thoughts.


To Amy and Nicole, thank you for being so supportive and watching us like mothers to baby chicks.  I know I speak for all of us when I say that our endeavors could not have been made possible without you both. And Tini, having you as part of the JRYC has made Mondays such much more enjoyable, your unique personality of spirit and random loudness are your signature features I’ll carry with me forever. Don’t ever stop rockin’ socks!

To Amanjit, although we haven’t really got to know one another, the time we have conversed has been enlightening.  I know I sure won’t forget that when I tried to call you once, some man, I think it was your father, who picked up and I was so freaked out! What a weird memory, but it was really great being able to collaborate our ideas and make them into something amazing. Definitely looking forward to what you’ll accomplish next!

To Yvi, whose adorable, innocent beam lights the skies, I wonder what will happen to me not being able to see your smile. Every time I saw that trademark smile of yours, I melted because it’s so hard to explain, but there was just something, honest, something so pure about your smile that made me want to love the world, even when I was depressed or lackadaisical.  I think if I could bottle your smile’s essence in a bottle, I would, and it’s a shame that I can’t. Be sure to keep on smiling because I know that your smile will be as precious to others as it was for me.

To Jon, the more attentive of the Wang “twins,” it’s always a drastic contrast to Matt when I see your efficiency and professionalism, though it’s not surprising since you’re older. Although I can’t let go of the fact that you’re way taller than me but so much younger! But when you bring up an idea or report your findings, it’s so hard to remember that you’re so young because you display so much greater capability than your age deceives. Make sure to represent the male faction of the JRYC and East Bay as you have and keep Matt in check. And do me a favor, don’t grow any more by the time I see you again!

To Matt, my freshmen Team Sexy member who can’t pay attention, our memories together date back to the past Youth Leadership Conference and you haven’t changed one bit.  I’m glad that you have the same boy-ish sense of humor and personality as the first day I met you, but I’m even more looking forward to seeing how you progress as you’re only a freshmen. I hope you don’t forget our time together not only on the council, but as the only two members of Team Sexy to be on the JRYC. Do us proud.

To Sarah, my Eastie Bay carpool, your enthusiasm as a first-year JRYC member has for the past year inspired me to be such much more.  You are, to me, the passionate promise of the youth for this strengthening cause, diligent in all that you do.  I know that when I’m gone next year, you will be more than equipped to represent the East Bay in all that is to come as a part of the Jade Ribbon Youth Council and I will not forget our conversations and your tender determination.  Keep your flame ablaze and I know there isn’t anything you can’t accomplish.

To Patrick, my gangster photographer player, having met you is like having around a breath of refreshing air! It’s not just that we share a passion in photography (although you’re much better and your camera owns mine), but I love laughing with you at even the smallest things!  I think you brought out the ghetto nature in me, although being Asian kind of destroys that.  Between the serious, business Patrick, and the extrovert, ghetto Patrick, it’s hard to choose which one I admire more! Although the ghetto Patrick looks better in my photos! I will miss how you can always make me laugh with your silly nature or just being one of the few males on the JRYC, so never stop from sharing your warmth.

To Esther, my muse, your beauty and quiet grace has elegantly descended on me this year. My camera simply can’t get enough wonderful photos of you!  And although you’re in constant denial of this, I’ll be sure to remind you everyday! In my mind, you’ll always be the sweet and delicate girl who didn’t take me to see Epik High. Just kidding. I’ll never forget how fantastically caring you’ve been to me or the happiness you give simply by talking with me or how your virtuousness subconsciously makes me smile. I lament the loss of my muse but rest assured, I’ll be back to capture your adorable-ness in no time!

To Serena, my roommate and 1st Jade Ribbon friend, you are the person I’ve been with the longest and it’s so strange that we’re now going to be separated in retrospect.  I’ll never forget how it all started and how we both were accepted onto the council and how you’re amazing at making library displays (even though you probably are sick of it!) I know that you’re going to represent the cause and Asians for that matter when you rock Berkeley’s world.  But still you’ll always be my #1 roommate.

To Cerena, my source of all things spontaneous and passionate, although we don’t many YLC memories, we sure made up for that with memories outside the JRYC, like the Caltech reception.  Your innovativeness (all mostly random but I love that about you too) and stubborn ardor has evolved the feminist in me. I can always hear your voice in my head urging me never to say “no” to anything that I know I can handle, to rise up and fight with a smile on my face and stick to what I believe in, no matter what anyone tries to say.  You remind always that there is beauty in strength and I know that’s the image of Cerena Chen I’ll keep in my mind to the end of time.  I know you’ll wow the world, just like you’ve wow-ed all of us.

To Michelle, the last remaining original member of Team Bootie, your sense of Korean pride and as well your keenness in just about everything has certainly made its mark on me. I’ll never forget how excited you are at every opportunity and that optimism is sure to be your legacy to me as I have learned to face every challenge or task with as much zeal as you always displayed in my presence.  I hope that your take-charge approach brings you to higher heights (many of them in law) and that you wave to me from the clouds once you’re there.

To Daniel Kim, my Harvard, romance boy who isn’t going to stay single for long, your way with technology and prom/ball stories will be with me for all of time. And seeing how amazing you are (I swear, you’re so talented) has taught me that I can be better, not just with my work on the JRYC, but in every aspect of life. I remember when I first saw you at the youth leadership conference two years ago, I thought you were much older than you really were, and that just proves to me, that maturity goes a long way, and that I myself, have I long way to go to reaching your status. I won’t forget you and I hope you don’t forget me either as you rock Harvard to the ground!

To Katherine, my sweetheart genius, your everyday compliments, mainly on Facebook, are much too valuable to be given to me, someone that isn’t worthy of your praise, but I love you to bits for being so thoughtful. Your words of encouragement, especially about my photography, cause me to strive to be even more creative, just to hear you say them once more. And even though you’ve only been on the council for this past year, in that short amount of time, I’m so glad we got to become friends.  One day, I promise I’ll be admirable enough to have you as my model and do your excellence justice.

To Evaline, my photo partner in crime, my photos will never be the same, not having you in there with me. Your bubbly personality and sense of humor has given my heart insight about how to smile each and every day.  I can’t even begin to count our adventures of ruining Daniel’s photos, or being utterly ridiculous but having the time of our lives in the process. And puppies, adorable puppies, that’s what I will attribute you to! Live, laugh, and love, that’s what you’ve silently shown me and it’s made me a better person because of that.  Lead the JRYC into a brighter potential as a senior next year and I can’t wait to continue our shenanigans when I come back to visit!

And to Daniel Ki, my former-freshmen, Cantonese, left-handed, counter part, although our memories have been bitter sweet, I would not have traded them for the world. Hm, what can I say about you other than that I didn’t haze you and that I only teased you because you teased me! So in essence, my final words to you are that I was the victim and I was wrongly accused. Sometimes. I’m just kidding. Although you still have to give me those pictures (have you no guilt that I’m leaving and you stole those pictures?!) You’ve made my time on the council more than fun than it ever could and you know that no matter what happened between us, we’re rock solid and that I will miss you immensely, more than I can honestly tell you.  I mean, you’re like my little brother. It’s my duty to fight with you on a casual friendly sense. I can’t wait to visit the JRYC and ruffle your hair the moment I get back so don’t change during that time, okay? It’s a promise.

To all of you, my eternal love and wishes. This past year with the current council has been more fantastic for me than you can imagine and to my seniors who I’ve known for these past two, some two and a half, years: the moon and the stars in your reach for the future.

Infinitesimal love,

Elisabeth Sum


Monte Vista High School ’09

U Penn Jerome Fisher ’13