saying zàijiàn + hǎo yùnqì

My coworker Xiuping has been a great inspiration for me over the past five years and yesterday she left the office for the last time, off on her next adventure. Though originally from mainland China, Xiuping and her husband are going to live in Singapore where he is a political science professor. She grew up in China during the Cultural Revolution and often tells stories about knitting her own clothing, down to her underpants, and not having much of anything. She is an incredibly crafty woman, and I am often stunned at what she creates and remakes from existing creations. She knits, crochets, beads, and a million other things. She also loves folding paper. We've actually bonded over this, making various origami creations with book covers from new books (which are generally recycled). We have a paper crane mobile hanging between our desks that we made together, and I felt that it was important to honor a gift that she has shared with everyone in our office. We all have a little folded trinket from her.

Once I heard she was leaving, I stopped at the craft store and picked up some pretty origami paper. We passed it around the department, each person signing on the blank side of their own piece. I collected all the paper and folded them into cranes over the weekend, attached them to strings and hung them from a yard stick. Space is limited in an international move, so I thought this would be something interactive and fun for her. She can unfold the cranes and read the messages, and once she arrives in Singapore, she can refold them and use them to decorate her home (if she wants). All in all, it's an affordable gift + card combination full of sentimental value.

She was incredibly pleased with the unconventional gift and everyone I work with was astounded that a simple, affordable gift could have such a lasting and interesting impact. She promises to refold the cranes once she gets to Singapore and use them to decorate her cubicle or office.

[All photos taken with Hipstamatic or Instagram on my iPhone - I'm without my camera for a little while!]

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All content © Meaghan O'Malley, 2009-2012. Header image by Rebekka Seale.