Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Joy that Words Can Bring

The last day I spent in Summer at Brown was truly a memorable and touching experience. Every moment was enjoyable and went by faster than I ever thought. It all came to the day we would all say our goodbye's and present our Action Plans.

In the morning, I quickly got up, got ready and packed some of my final belongings. I then headed out with my roommate Sara to eat breakfast for the last time together with our close Women and Leadership friend group with the ILC cohort, Sachi, Fern , Ishani and Lauren. Even though I got tired of eating breakfast at the Ratty, I really will miss the people I usually spent slow and sleepy mornings with together.

Women and Leadership met inside our usual classroom in room 227. Some of my friends were already getting emotional because it was our last class session together. In our first activity, Christine and Tina went out of the room so that all of us students could write answers on questions posted all around the room. Some of  these questions included most memorable experiences and evaluations of Christine as a TA and Tina as an instructor. I wrote very sweet and genuine things around the room along with the other young women. I thought the class and the people were perfect. This space made me feel safe, happy and powerful. I wouldn't mind taking another course with these lovely people.

For a while, we had a photo shoot with each other when Tina and Christine went back inside. Countless pictures were taken for memories. I saw what looked like friendship bracelet threads set up on a table in the front of class. This got me really excited for what our next activity would be, but before that, Tina gave us a few emotional and motivational words. There has been a lot of cruelty with all the killings that has been occurring the past few weeks. She's sad that it's the world we have to go back to, but she knows we are bringing positive change to the world. Tina got teary, and it made it even harder for all of us to say goodbye soon. I wanted to hug everyone in class--and I did.
Sweet words

The bundles of thread were for tying one on each person's wrist while telling them words of affirmation. We took our time tying these words onto each other and it was one of the most touching experiences I've went through with other people. This activity was what really drove many of us home and burst people into tears. It's crazy how we've all only known each other for two weeks, but we all have a strong and unbreakable bond.  My classmates, Tina and Christine told me the nicest and most sincere affirmations ever. All the words said to me were words I needed to hear. They made me feel special, loved and beautiful. I decided in that moment that I'd always try to be a kind person to everyone I meet because it really does change lives.
After this tear-jerking activity, we watched videos as a class, such as Beyonce's live performance, Jesse Williams' acceptance speech, T-rex ice skating, and Avichie's Ted Talk of "Why We Should All Be Feminists." It was a relaxing and grand end to our last time in class together.

I ate lunch with my usual group of friends at the VDub while looking over my Action Plan presentation a couple more times. We were all definitely feeling the nerves and the jitters, but we all encouraged each other and gave moral support.

We walked to the MacMillan Hall to meet up with all of Leadership Institute and get our Action Plan presentations started. Kisa Takesue started off the program by welcoming us all and acknowledging our accomplishments. All the Instructors, TA's, RA's and Leader Fellows also introduced themselves. When Tina and Christine were introduced, Women and Leadership cheered loudly for them. We're super supportive. There was also a slideshow presented and pictures from our whole time here at Brown were displayed. It produced a lot of laughs and emotions.

Soon, we all finally broke off into our presentation groups. I was with Group D and we went to the Watson Institute in the 3rd floor library. Jennifer from my Women and Leadership class was in my group as well and we agreed to smiling while the other presented to make us feel less nervous. Our instructor was Kelly Keogh. There were five other students from different classes like Global Engagement. Some parents were also watching. I was second to present. My actual presentation was ten times better than my practice presentation on Thursday. I was really proud of myself. I got some questions from parents and a student after, so I was relieved that they wanted to know more about my plan. My peers did great as well and there Action Plans had to do with issues such as Alzheimer's Disease, child care, education for girls, treating wounds and caribou. I got us all to take pictures afterward, so it was great.
My Action Plan group
Happy with our presentations
Everyone returned to MacMillan Hall to say last goodbye's  since many were leaving in the afternoon, including my cohort. I was chatting with Jennifer on the way there about our trips back home and what we'd do. When we got there, we took a billion more pictures with friends and people in the Leadership Institute. My group of friends greeted Tina goodbye and as she walking away, we all shouted, "We love you Tina!"

Leaving Providence
It was nearing 4:00 PM, our time to get a shuttle, so we left to finally return our keys. We hugged all our new friends goodbye and made our way to Providence Airport.

Our cohort went through all the tight security and we ate at Johnny Rockets and an Italian place. I got some Chili Cheese Fries and an Oreo Milkshake.
Thanks for the bracelets Ms. Cruzat!!!
Our flight was apparently delayed by half an hour, so we waited a while to board. My seat was 29D. I had a middle seat. It took a long time before we left because of some weather and refueling issues. The flight was longer than it should have been and when we finally arrived in Atlanta, we were more than an hour late! The next plane would leave us in about fifteen minutes and it was taking forever for people to exit the plane. People in the back with us were complaining about missing their next flights. When it finally cleared out, we ran for our lives up escalators with our heavy bags, rode a shuttle to our terminal and ran all the way at the end to our gate, but when we got there, it was closed. We died a little inside. The Delta worker wouldn't allow us inside with the few minutes we had to spare before departure time. The next flight was scheduled for the next morning and we were frustrated. It was an intense night of ranting out to customer service and Delta. I had gone through something like this before, so I kept my calm most the time.
Stuck in Atlanta
We were low on money to pay for a stay overnight at a hotel and for breakfast, but thankfully, Don helped us take care of that. Our cohort checked in at Ramada Plaza, but we didn't get into our rooms until around 1:00 AM. We had to wake up early at 5:00 AM so we only had a few hours of sleep. The Atlanta air was humid and I noticed that people had different accents. It was stressful, but an adventure at the same time. Many stories will come out of this experience.
Tired at the hotel
As you can tell, it was a really long day and night. It was exhausting, but it was an interesting and incredible way to wrap up our last day in Providence.

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