Laura and Tim met the group at the Quality Inn and rode in the vans with them to the airport, where Ji Won, Kevin, and I went separately. We stood on a long, slow line to check the luggage in, and then Ji Won generously treated everyone in the group to coffee. We drank our coffee, talked, sang, took pictures, cried, and hugged until it was time for them to go through security. We five stood and waved as each AGUer, with Tatsuya Uchida bringing up the rear, passed through the security checkpoint and into the restricted area. We continued waving until we had lost sight of the very last person. Even then, we stood around and talked about what an amazing experience these two weeks had been for all of us. "It was the best part of my summer," Tim said, and I do not think anyone disagreed.
After we went with Kevin to the United Airlines counter, we went to the parking lot. Ji Won had his car, and I took Tim and Laura back to the Quality Inn. Then I went to MEI to finish some paperwork. It felt strange to walk on campus, knowing that "my kids" were gone. I kept imagining I was seeing them!
When I awoke this morning, I checked the ANA website and found that the plane had landed safely at Narita Airport. As I write this, it's about 1 p.m. on Thursday, so that means it is 2 a.m. on Friday in Japan. I imagine they are all sound asleep in their own beds.
Now that "AGU in America" is no longer in America, it seems appropriate to end the blog and to recommence with a new way of keeping the group united and in touch. I am going to investigate GoogleGroups and YahooGroups and will let everyone know how to register for an "AGU in America 2006" group. I hope that the students will continue to post to their blogs as a way to practice writing in English (including pictures and slideshows!). I still plan to add a few pictures or slideshows and perhaps a few links to the sights we saw, so I hope people will not stop checking the blog just yet! However, I think this particular blog should come to an end with this post. I have really enjoyed doing it!
PS I will set a date for our first intercontinental chat around the middle of September. Watch your email for details!