Today we woke with an early start to head home. Although we are leaving the sides of our veterans this morning, they are not leaving our hearts. It was hard on everyone to load the colorful and highly decorated Korean bus for the last time. We waved goodbye out the windows to our wonderful veterans who have adopted us over the last ten days. Many eyes were filled with tears, but others expressed pure joy because we all know this is just the beginning. It is comforting to know that these goodbyes are merely 'see you laters.'
It was bittersweet to depart for home and reflect over our precious time spent in this beautiful country. Our journey in Korea was exciting, insightful, and full of exploration. However, nothing compares to the deep relationships that we have cultivated with the veterans that accompanied us on this trip. The veteran we were paired with was Mr. Tremblay and we are looking forward to keeping in touch with him. He is planning on bringing his wife down to College of the Ozarks in a few months so we can meet her. He has become family to us over such a short period of time. God placed this great man in our lives and nothing has made us happier than having the opportunity to learn from him. From inside jokes to deep conversations to precious gifts, Mr. Tremblay captured our hearts and not only ours but everyone on this trip!
"My (Alli) grandpa fought alongside the nine sweet-hearted veterans that we had with us on this trip. Although, he is no longer with us today and was unable to revisit Korea after the war, I know how proud he is of me and all the students on this trip, to be able to experience history in this manner."
I (C.W.) left ten days ago embarking on a voyage with little expectations; I had no idea what lay in store. I left with an open mind and heart and my how it was filled! I saw first hand the effect that my grandfather, Mr. Tremblay and the others we traveled with, had on a nation and people. The Korean people are truly grateful and it was a blessing to see their gratitude. They are inspiring in how hard they work and study to take advantage of the freedom they have been given. They have only to look a few kilometers north to see what could have been, had it not been for the great sacrifice of the men that fought there; and now they are the tenth largest economy in the world only 60 years after the war! I pray that I can inspire the people of America to look back and see where it is we have come from and where we could have been had it not been for the sacrifice of these men.
Over the past ten days we have been able to see firsthand what our country, loved ones, and service men/women were able to provide for South Korea. They defended people they did not know in a land they had never heard of. Being able to experience this and share the memories of nine outstanding men is something that words cannot describe. This opportunity gave us knowledge that cannot be learned from reading a textbook and can be passed on for generations to come.
We have made lifelong friends on this trip. Mr. Tremblay, or Lt. Col. Tremblay was the gentleman, we had the great pleasure of spending the week getting to know. From him we have learned a great deal; not only about Korea, the Korean War and United States Air Force, but he shared with us valuable life lessons and his love for our Lord. it was an incredible experience spending the week with a man that has lived four times our lifetime with more than four lifetimes worth of wisdom. Mr. Tremblay constantly told us throughout the trip: "Bloom where you are planted and prepare to be transplanted at a moments notice." This greatly applies to our trip because we were able to grow and flourish in knowledge over the past week. Now we are ready to incorporate these lessons into all aspects of our lives as students, employees, family members, and friends. This experience was life-changing and will stay with us forever as we are transplanted throughout our lifetime. Mr. Tremblay was one of the most genuinely encouraging and inspiring individuals we have ever met.
Today we said goodbye to Korea, but are going home with more than we thought was possible..Our appreciation for our military, country and loved ones who fought in the Korean War will never stop growing. I (C.W.) wish more than anything that my grandfather was still alive, so I could share this experience with him. However, I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to honor him and his memory on this trip!
College of the Ozarks has provided us with an incredible opportunity that many of us could have only dreamed about. Thank you for making it a reality for us. From this trip our worldview has grown immensely, along with our understanding of Korean culture.
Today we returned to Point Lookout, MO, United States of America, changed, and for the better. We will never forget.
C.W. Elliott and Alli Chandler