Life is amazing beyond words. I apologize for the tiny photos, but they’re all I have at the moment. Pictured above is a Hmong girl named Shu. We met her 10 years ago, almost exactly to the day, high in the hills around Sapa. Shu grabbed my hand and won my heart as she led us through the countryside and home to meet her family.
When we returned to the United States, I wrote a story about our encounters. The article was published in Kyoto Journal. It won an award and it accrued something of a followingâ€”fellow Americans who came to adore this vibrant little girl. Really, I can’t do the story more justice here than I did when I first wrote it, so please please read it if you’re interested.
For years, I have wondered what became of Shu and her family. Yesterday, she sent us an email. She had searched the Internet for her name and came upon the story of our days together in Sapa.
Shu and her family are doing just fine. She has a daughter of her own now, and she established a nonprofit trekking business with the help of a few foreigners. It’s hard for me to imagine this little, lovable girl all grown up. Stories always go on, long after they are printed. Just like life, and the happiness we get in meeting people along the way. Next year, I will try my best to return to Sapa.