Remembering Qi He – Emily Irani

August 26, 2016
Alumni Stories

I applied to Penn Impact Lab with my usual optimistic desire to change the world and, before I knew it, I was alone on a plane flying to San José. I was anxious for the upcoming week and wondered what this experience would be. To my surprise and delight, the other PIL Fellows were the most innovative, passionate, caring, bright social impact dreamers I’ve ever met. They became my family in ways I never thought were possible. The magic of human connection and openness was an unexpected highlight of the trip and my absolute favorite part.

Qi He was a member of PIL who fully embodied this magic every day of the fellowship. His easy-going, adventurous, kind personality was contagious, and he instantly made everyone feel like a life-long friend. He was one of the first people on the trip that I knew I would enjoy spending an unlimited amount of time with.



Throughout the week, he never failed to put a smile on everyone’s face every single day. He was focused, always engaged in conversation, forever happy-go-lucky. Looking back, my favorite thing about him was that he always raised his hand to volunteer. Following one exercise, he delivered a charming speech on the spot seemingly with ease. This is something that I am not very good at and he inspired me to conquer my fear and to strive to get better at it with patience. Qi had qualities and characteristics that I admire and will continue to model my own behavior after.

The day I found out Qi went missing felt like a dream. I read a Daily Pennsylvanian article on June 10th that detailed his disappearance with shock: he was glissading (using an ice ax to control his slide) down Asgard Pass, a popular alpine hiking area near Seattle, when he apparently lost control and slide over the edge of a rock into a snow waterfall. About a month later, his body was found. I couldn’t believe what had happened to such an amazing person.



Members of the PIL family shared their personal memories of Qi on Facebook:

This past week has been extremely trying with all of the incidents that have occurred around the country, and my heart weeps for all those who have lost a loved one, friend, and neighbor. Mine in particular cries for Qi He, one of the most incredible, kindest, and wittiest people I have ever met.

I’m so thankful to call Qi my friend who made this PIL family so incredible and special.

Qi is filled with compassion, love for his family and friends, and a strong and genuine desire to better the world. I am so fortunate to have enjoyed his contagious enthusiasm, bright presence, and kind heart during this memorable trip to Costa Rica.

Qi is an adventurous soul, whose warmth and kind spirit have touched me and everyone who has gotten to know him. I am lucky to have met Qi on a life-changing social impact trip this past winter.

Qi is such an incredible man and has a heart filled with courage and deep care for the wellbeing of others.

Thinking so much about you, Qi, as I’m filled with gratefulness to have danced in circles, attempted to draw each other’s face and do acroyoga, and been reminded how goofy and adventurous humans can be when together with you.

Thank you, Qi. For your friendship. Passion. Adventure. Warmth. Courage. Impact. You will be dearly missed by your PIL family and we will carry your energy and soul with us throughout the rest of our lives.

Rest in peace, you beautiful human.

Written by Emily Irani; Edited by Ashton Yount; Photography selected from Facebook posts about Qi