I’m here at Chicago O’hare waiting to board my plane. And I can’t believe China is nearly here. Just a mere 15 hour plane ride away…
All in all, my pre-departure experience has been wonderful. I am so fortunate to have such supportive family and friends. Even last night as I was doing the final pack of my bags, I was getting texts and messages from friends and loved ones wishing me good luck and a safe trip. For a girl who is going solo halfway across the world, that means a lot.
But I’m also feeling really fortunate for another reason. About four years ago, I had an amazing opportunity to take a gap year after high school graduation and was a Rotary exchange student to Thailand. I lived in Thailand with three different host families over the course of a year, and my experience with them was truly life-changing. The most amazing thing about that experience, though, was not just the fact that got to spend a year abroad. The best part of the trip was the people I became friends with and relationships I made there. It has followed me even into my college life, and even today I continue to see the repercussions of the incredible experience I had. Case in point: a few hours ago I saw a few young people walking around with the jackets that I once wore as a Rotary exchange student. I went up to them and asked if they were with Rotary, and they said yes, they were headed to Ecuador! I sat and talked with them until their flight left, and I was just reminded about what a small and interconnected world we live in. I’ve experienced such amazing things as a result of being a part of Rotary, and even four years later I still see the connections.
The other thing I feel fortunate for being a part of is AIESEC. AIESEC is an international completely student run organization that focuses on the peace and fulfillment of humankind’a potential through the promotion of cultural exchanges abroad. I joined AIESEC during my 2nd semester of my sophomore year at University of Illinois and my uni life was forever changed. I met people from all walks of life and with incredible international mindsets and world views. And now, because of AIESEC, I have met people from all over the world and all over the US. And I am also planning on connecting with AIESEC clubs while I am in China.
It’s organizations like Rotary and AIESEC that make me genuinely excited and optimistic for my life and for the future of the world. I’ve learned so much from these people and as I embark on my next journey I can’t help but be thankful about how far I’ve come as a result of these truly inspirational organizations. I can’t wait to get over to the other side of the world and continue fostering these incredible relationships.
So….here we go. T-minus 50 minutes until departure. See you on the flip side, USA!!!!