Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Writing, Teaching, Language, Landscape, Life

Team Shanghai and the Apple Pie Adventure


Infinite apple peels.

Infinite apple peels.

Luke’s friend, an exchange student from China, invited him to come to Shanghai this summer. As we often appreciate more the things we earn, Luke (and our family) made homemade apple pies for Easter to sell to raise funds to go. 

Wyatt, London

Wyatt, London

The Apple Pie Idea emerged a few years ago, when our oldest son, Wyatt, was invited to be a People-to-People Student Ambassador in the UK. This invitation happened during Wyatt’s freshman year, a time when he was really struggling. Our family sat in the invitational meeting, hearing about all of the wonders of this trip to Ireland, England, Wales, and Scotland. Wyatt has always been entranced with this area of the world and read books about all by the wheelbarrow. Then, the numbers of what the trip would cost came up on the screen. There was simply no way. I looked at Wyatt, flashed on his struggles during that time, and deep inside me I knew that in ways I didn’t understand, we had to make this happen. Now, how?  What did our family have to offer? I make a very fine apple pie. When might people want one? The next holiday was Easter. Easter it was. Over the course of the next months, we experienced a transformation in Wyatt that left us speechless. 

Then came Luke’s invitation to go to Shanghai. It had been three years and we’d almost recovered from the last round of baking. Our hope is that in making this an experience that Luke works for, those greater life lessons will be an integral aspect of this experience. In addition to all he’ll learn through international travel and experiencing other cultures, we hope that through the making and selling of these apple pies, he will learn that life is about relationships, giving, working to create a life, and being gracious and grateful. He will give a presentation of photos and what he learned to gain experience in speaking in front of people. For all those who bought pies, we tell Luke that one day it will be his turn to give. That this is life. 

Luke wrote a letter to announce our upcoming sale of pies and Team Shanghai prepared. 

Luke - peeling and slicing.

Luke – peeling and slicing.

Wynn and Noé—the crust makers.

Wynn and Noé—the crust makers

Wynn and Noé—the crust makers

Wynn and Noé - sifting flour.

Wynn and Noé – sifting flour.

The apple peels, sliced apples, baskets and bags of all slowly took over our kitchen. I mixed, rolled the crust, and put the pies together.

How many more pies??

Late one day—How many more pies??

I never measure anything when I make apple pies. For all to help, I had to figure out more-or-less the measurements. I scribbled on a piece of paper and set in the middle of the table. 



We discovered good music was essential. We played stations of The Four Seasons, Motown, 80’s Rock, current hits, and everybody’s favorite, which Luke described as “weirdly perfect,” Disney soundtracks. Wynn and her best friend, Erin, sang all.

Erin and Wynn led the singing.

Erin and Wynn led the singing.

Two and a half days, 400 apples, 45 batches of dough…and a partridge in a pear tree later, we emerged with 70 pies. 

Luke heading pies into town.

Luke heading pies into town.

One of the tables of pies. ©Elizabeth Hinds

One of the tables of pies. ©Elizabeth Hinds

We returned home to survey a home still covered in apple peelings, butter, sugar, and flour on every surface. The boys dove into a chess game, Wynn went to her room humming a tune, Noé and I poured a glass of wine and collapsed on the couch. Whatever unfolds remains to be seen. Our hopes that this will be an experience in gratitude and learning Luke remains. Whatever happens, our family came together to peel, bake, sing, dance, work together to create a dream, talk, and laugh together for three days.

For this moment in time, that means everything. 

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Author: Dawn Wink

Dawn Wink is a writer and educator whose work explores the beauty and tensions of language, culture, and place.

37 thoughts on “Team Shanghai and the Apple Pie Adventure

  1. Pingback: New Horizon | Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

  2. What a wonderful story and the best pic of you ever!

    • Dear Carole – Thanks so much for sharing in this story! That pic of me… on the millionth pie! 🙂 What a day. Thanks so much for taking the time to write and connect!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing the pie making event. We would have bought several, they looked delicious. Gotta go now, I feel like making a pie. Love and Blessings to all of you

    • Querida Juanita! I love that this made you feel like making a pie. 🙂 We bake together in spirit. Love and love to you! xoxox La Hija de tu Güerita que te quiere mucho

  4. Real family teamwork. Lovely story in words and pictures.

  5. I LOVED reading your story about the Team Shanghai experience making apple pies. You answered two questions I wondered aloud to Charlie – How many pies did they make and how long did it take? Your family sets a wonderful example to every family. Praise be to God for each of you.

    • Dear Jane, I’m so glad this answered two of your questions! Yes, lo those many, many pies… So deeply grateful to you and Charlie for your sharing this journey.

  6. All I can think to say is that you are incredible. And I say amen to all of the other comments. XOXO

  7. Dawn – what a great life lesson and it looked like lots of fun also.

  8. The world needs more Wink families.

  9. Oh, Dawn! What a fabulous story! I’m forwarding it to Jeannie and Abby! I wish we were there in the middle of it!

    Love and miss you! Gail

  10. this reminds me of cooking sessions we had with church and family friends when we kept our acre of garden in Indiana. Kimberly and Michelle were under five years of age, so they couldn’t help a whole lot, but the memories are priceless.

    • Dear Carol, an acre of garden—and gathering with family friends and church. How beautiful and what memories for your girls. Thank you so much for sharing these memories. Priceless, yes.

  11. A memorable story, Dawn! I was truly amazed at all the finished apple pies that went through the human process of togetherness.

  12. Fabulous event and learning experience. Kay


    • Dear Kay, you’ve lived this yourself with your kids. So grateful that we shared these years together. Kristin sent a photo when she and her family visited you in your new home. Gorgeous view – and you have a fabulous haircut!

  13. Very nice, dawn!! Energy flows from the page. Xo Peggy

    Sent from my iPhone


  14. Oh my, Dawn, this is just amazing! Not only that you made so many pies in such a short amount of time but how your whole family, including friends, all pulled together to make this happen. Amazing also that you all were still smiling when it was over. I had goosebumps reading this. One more child to go . . . more pies 😀 A side benefit for you – biceps from rolling out all those crusts 😀 Now for a kickstarter (or some such endeavor) campaign for those of us who live too far away to buy a pie so we can donate toward this amazing adventure. Sending hugs to you and your amazing family XOXO

    • Dear Lindy, you would’ve loved this—kids, music, flour flying, all! Yes, one more child to go…and more pies. Fortunately, we’ll have a year to recover and regain our strength and sense of humor! In the midst of all, I looked at Wynn, who had been making pie crusts for hours and said, “Next year, we’ll be doing this for you.” I asked Wyatt to come home and join us, but he had a Regionals competition for rock climbing. He was so relieved. 🙂 Oh, thanks so much for all here. Much love!

  15. Those look sooo good! You can truly say they’re made with love. Wish you could ship one to Wyoming. Hope Luke earns enough to get to make the trip.

    • Dear Deborah, ah, love the thought that we can say they’re truly made with love. Yes, 100%. I so wish we could close my eyes and have a pie appear in Wyoming for you! Thanks so much for taking the time to connect.

  16. I think this is wonderful…a big part of the trip is the earning of it &it is a far MOre rewarding experience..a family affair & a great one!!!

  17. So interesting—Hanna is doing the People to People ambassador program this summer!

  18. This is surely a case for building memories, precious memories and it’s all documented in word and photographs. Look at the battle zone, wearied soldiers, battered sign (there’s a pun in there somewhere), Wynn has a shoe knocked off. That must have been a “You want to take a picture now?” moment. This is a tale for the generations; when Luke is a senior citizen he can brag about how pies where made by hand in the old days and how easy the young generation has it. Four hundred apples, my my. I bet it was a crazy fun time and it will never be forgotten by all involved, all of you being good sports to work that long and hard. I’m sure the pies were well receive; I wished I had a slice for breakfast this morning. Luke will surely treasure his trip to Shanghai in many ways, getting there is part of the adventure!

    • Dear Dan, love this. Yes, Wynn’s missing shoe..isn’t that a riot? The apples, butter, dough…and shoes were flying! I only noticed in the photo. Definitely a “You want to take a picture now, Mom?” moment. I do hope this will be a time of memories for all, of coming together as a family. Shared lots of stories and laughter. I wish I could magic a slice of pie to you for breakfast. Love the thought that getting to Shanghai as part of the adventure. True.

  19. Love love love this piece, dear Dawn. Great lessons learned — and great photos, too! Can’t wait to taste our pie in two weeks!

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