Recent graduate Haijiao Sun planned to make the trip back to China after studying at Troy University for six years.
He told friends that he was traveling back to China after his graduation.
“I asked him why he was going home instead of getting a job here (in the U.S.), and he said it was because he wanted to go home to take care of his father,” Confucius Institute faculty member Sue Sun said.
Although Sun, his father, cousin and aunt will not make that trip home; those who knew him remember Sun as a “kindhearted” and “selfless” individual.
Sue Sun stood over a computer at her podium and played the slide show that the Confucius Institute would play for Sun’s mother when she arrived from China to celebrate the life of her son.
In the slide show were dozens of photos taken during Sun’s work with the Confucius Institute. Photos slid across the screen of Sun helping students, laughing, performing in a drama, playing basketball in Wright Hall and wielding a Chinese dragon float.
At the Confucius Institute, Sun took part in the Star Talk program that began in July of 2013 where he worked as a teaching assistant helping American’s learn Chinese.
That’s where he met Xian Ruo, a senior graduate student in Master Public Administration from Shenzhen, China.
Ruo described Sun as “quiet,” “a good listener” and “kindhearted.” She said that he enjoyed playing basketball while earning his degree in sports management.
“I think he was very selfless. In the program, we had many activities, and we had to move a lot of desks and many chairs. He helped a lot. He was like a real man.”
Ruo and Sun acted in short dramas that for the program. They acted out a school scenario with teachers and bad students. She laughed as she recalled that each time Sun would always choose to be the student taking a nap during class.
Sue Sun spoke about Sun’s smile. She said that this was what she thought about when recalling his memory.
She described a time when Sun was having his photo made for the Confucius Institute. In the first two frames he stood there in a blank stare until she urged him to smile. She did not expect him to smile, but when he did she said that it was a smile that made her feel “very warm.”