As an old Chinese saying goes, “A timely snow promises a good harvest.” In China, it is thought, snow at the New Year always brings some good luck. In early January, I found myself thinking, what kind of good luck might a really heavy Boston snow (“near blizzard conditions,” according to The National Weather Service) bring? As it turned out, this auspicious January snow brought many good things to our lab in the following weeks.
First good news come from two of my lab-mates, Gulin and Xiahui -- both of them got married! Gulin and I share the same office, and if you have ever been to one of the offices in building 13, you will immediately understand how close we are: as the office is so tight, we sit almost back to back to each other. Xiahui is one of my comrades that stayed up with me during our synchrotron experiments. He did his PhD in Boston and knows almost everything about the area. Additionally, he is so good at driving. As we sometimes need to drive to the Brookhaven National Lab on snowy days, it is nice to have an experienced driver with you.
I am not surprised by the good news since both Gulin and Xiahui have been with their partners for many years. I have met their partners several times during after-work activities and I can tell how sweet they are. So, though not surprised, I was still so excited and touched at the moment when I was informed about their good news: The first day when I came to office after the New Year’s holiday, Gulin happily announced her marriage, with a beautiful ring on her hand. Meanwhile, in the social messaging app “WeChat,” Xiahui, who was then in China, posted a picture of himself and his wife in front of the civil affairs bureau (Minzheng Ju 民政局, where people register to get married in China), labeling their partnership a “legitimate marriage.”
The second piece of good luck in our lab was Qiyang finishing his defense – he should now be officially addressed as Dr. Lu. Qiyang had his defense on the very first day when MIT re-opened after the storm (January 8th) and we are glad that his defense did not get postponed due to the snow. Qiyang is the person who taught me everything about experiments when I first joined the lab. During the three years we spent together, we went to multiple synchrotron beamlines to conduct fancy experiments, which essentially means staying up late to click various buttons and to turn various knobs. I feel lucky that I got the opportunity to work closely with Qiyang: he is a role model and shows me how to be a good experimentalist. I am happy for him as I know how much effort he has put into this journey, and I wish him all the best in his career.
This year is my 3rd year at MIT during the PhD program. I found that lab-mates have become like family in many ways: while I spend less than a month with my family in China every year, I spent most of the remaining time with these lovely lab-mates. We discuss exciting science, help and support each other, and we play board games, eat delicious food, and celebrate the New Year together. I am grateful for the company and support from them and I am also very happy to see the “lab family” have such a nice beginning of the year, with the auspicious Boston snow.