Saturday, July 23, 2011

Final Day

Yesterday was such a roller coaster of emotions. I said some of the hardest goodbyes that I have ever had to say. Even though I was the only girl who did not cry, I can promise you I felt just as strongly as everyone else. I am home now but I feel like I now have a new home at Brown University, or really anywhere that my Summer@Brown friends are. This experience has been truly life changing for me. I learned so much from the class and from the students there that I feel it has left me a completely new person. My apologies for the short blogging, I will be posting my lengthy reflection blog soon enough to go more in depth about the great things I experience at Brown.

A Seemingly Endless Period Of Taking Pictures

Today was our last day at Summer@Brown.

I woke up today, jumped into the shower, and finished packing. I dashed off to class and arrived with about two minutes to spare. I did a lot better than some of my classmates though; after a late final night everyone was exhausted and some people showed up a little late.

We turned in all of our final assignments and Kisa had us do a forced choice activity. On our first day of class we also did a forced choice activity, so it felt like we were coming full circle. As we moved from one side of the room to the other, I was happy to realize that I have become a more analytical thinker than I was before and I felt much more comfortable making my choice. For example: Twilight or Harry Potter? (If you are concerned about an absence of gravity in this activity, don’t be. This was the silliest question and the lack of solemnity was only because we all chose to answer this literally. In case you're curious, I chose Harry. Of course!)

After a few more farewell exercises, Kisa gave us a little time to take pictures and say more personal goodbyes. We all dashed around the room shoving our cameras at our classmates. Several people got teary-eyed. We were kicked out around 11:30 to go have lunch, and were reminded to meet by the main green at 12:45 to present our Action Plan presentations.

During lunch, all of us ILC girls dragged our luggage over to Faunce Arch in preparation for our imminent departure. The heat made this an uncomfortable and difficult procedure, but by 12:15 I had deposited my luggage in the student center. Caroline and I ran over to the Rockefeller Library to return some books and then headed over to the Ratty for lunch one last time.

There were a few final speeches in the big auditorium in Saloman Hall, and then we split off into small groups to present our Action Plans. I was so nervous to present my speech, but I should not have worried. I had prepared more than adequately and the audience (about seven other students and a facilitator) was very supportive. I heard some interesting Action Plans and got a couple of ideas for things to do better with my own plan.

And then, it was time to say goodbye. We ran around finding our friends and taking the last few sets of pictures. I didn’t realize how hard it would be to say goodbye to Kisa, Tiffany, Laura, and even Dean Rose. (I don’t know if Dean Rose remembers who I am, but she is SO COOL!!!)

Poor Ms. Williams had a terrible time corralling us all into the shuttle bus because we quite simply didn’t want to leave. Our friends escorted us to the student center and helped us carry our luggage to the shuttle. It took forever to even reach the student center because kept hugging each other and taking more photos. I hadn’t really expected to cry, but we pretty much all started sobbing at the same time. I think it was a combination of looking at Maddie’s teary eyes and realizing as I was hugging Kaylyn that I might not see her again that really set me off.

Finally we were all crammed into the van and we drove off, waving frantically through the windows. We turned the corner and they were gone. As one of my classmates said, “Gosh you guys, why do you all have to be so amazing? I would be so much happier right now if I had just hated everyone so that I would be glad to go home now.”

These friends that I’ve made have helped my life become so much richer now that they are in it. I’m going to miss them, but I know that our whole class is going to keep in touch.

Leaving Home to Come Home

After staying up all of last night, I was too tired this morning to realize the significance of actually going home. That all changed when I got to class, and I realized that this would be my last time in that room, my last time learning from Kisa, Laura, and Tiffany, and my last time being greeted, being inspired being amazed, and simply being with this amazing group of girls. I realized how truly special this experience has been and I couldn’t get myself to believe that it was over.

Well, this was partially because it wasn’t quite over. Even after our final activities, exchanging contact info, and saying our “goodbyes”, we still had to present our action plans.

Personally, I was terrified to present my action plan. Being new to public speaking, I wasn’t sure what type of speech preparation was best for me. I was also feeling less confident about my action plan the more that I tried to prepare. When I saw the other kids in my presenting group (who weren’t in my class) present their projects confidently, eloquently, and without notes, I felt extremely intimidated. It was even more intimidating when the boy before me had a project concerning the same issue, but with more statistics and more confidence in his presentation.
I then realized that even though these kids seemed to be more prepared and had done more public speaking than I had, their action plan ideas weren’t necessarily better. I also realized that many of them seemed too confident, making it seem like they weren’t prepared for dealing with the inevitable obstacles that were to come. I had nothing to lose if I just acted like myself and was modest, sincere, and presented my plan in a more conversational style that was natural to me. I think it generally went over pretty well, and I now feel more confident in myself and in my action plan.

Then came the hardest part –saying goodbye to all the girls. Tears were in everybody’s eyes, and when Ms. Williams finally convinced us to board the shuttle, they helped us carry all of our bags and were wishing us a safe flight, much like parents sending their daughter off to college. And as they cried and waved as we left, we cried and waved back.

It's not goodbye; it's write you later!

I have returned to the Bay Area. Thinking back on today, I cannot believe that I have left Brown and am back in the Bay Area. It is great to see my mother and sister again after almost three weeks...but it is freezing cold. And to think that this is considered normal temperature. I will miss the constant heat in Providence (well...not when it's 100 degrees)...and essentially everything about Providence.

I woke up this morning at eight and started packing more of my belongings into my carry-on bag and suitcase. I decided that I would completely finish it once class split for lunch break, so I freshened up, got my last breakfast at The Ratty, and headed to class with Cynthia, Marylyn, Josie, and Rebecca.

Class today was bittersweet. We wrote letters to ourselves about how we have grown as people - Kisa is going to mail them to us in six months. We played the game we played on the fist day of class; the one where there are two sides and you go to the side that applies to you the most. We also took several pictures with one another and passed out lists with everyone's mailing address, Facebook profile name, and cell phone numbers. Lastly, we sat in a circle and did an activity that we did not get to finish last night - say how the class has affected you.

I stated that this class has completely changed my life. I now have 24 sisters (including my actual sister, Monica) and I will treasure them for the rest of my life. I no longer feel like a perfectionist on the inside, and that is a great feeling.

During lunch, I completely finished packing. I hugged Kaylyn and told her she was the best roommate I have ever had, because she truly is. I will miss her, her dancing, her energy, and how she made the dorm like our little home. I went and got a quick lunch at The Ratty before heading out to the Main Green.

We went to the auditorium and were given a speech by Dean Rose before heading off into selected rooms for us to give our Action Speeches. I was the second person to give my speech. I had no butterflies in my stomach, I spoke freely, and I was cheerful. I feel like my public speaking has grown so much and I am so thankful for that. I was also happy to hear the other five people's Action Plans, which were inspiring.

So this is goodbye...

Saying goodbye to everyone was very hard. So many girls were crying, and in the end, I cried too. I felt like I was losing a part of me as we left these girls. Their smiles, jokes, laughs, and all the good times we had will be engraved in my heart for years to come.

Going to the airport was tough. I definitely did not want to leave Providence, but at the same time, I knew it was time. We took a smooth flight to Chicago and then a very long, tiring, and freezing flight to Oakland.

Women and Leadership changed me as a person, and for that, I am forever grateful.

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