From: Simone Evans (Junior Leader, Summer Intensive 2017)
The last few days have been bittersweet. A word I would use to describe this immersion would be togetherness. For every fear shed…. a shoulder was available, and open arms full of love greeted someone who three weeks ago was a stranger. Over the past 2 weeks, we have all became a family, and as cliché as that sounds I gained 35 brothers and sisters on this trip. People have shared their deepest thoughts and biggest fears with such a vulnerability that it allowed a space of comfortability.
We spent three days in a workshop with attempts to learn what others did in months; and before we knew it, we were in Deltas cushioned seats on our way to a different country together. I remember a thought that constantly kept replaying in my mind: “What am I going to learn this time? Will I feel a change? What will be the impact?” I stressed these questions until our very last reflection. Because at the very last reflection, I discovered my answer.
My answer was the blue, brown, green, hazel, multicolored eyes staring back at me. I learned what a genuine, natural love felt like. I learned everyone around me was just like me. We all had fears; we all needed love and we all wanted change. The only way we were going to get through these in two weeks were together, whether if was almost breaking our backs trying to carry what felt like 100 pounds of powered concrete or being a comforter to those crying from their fears. The vulnerability that was carefully allowed was a beautiful thing to watch as a junior leader. It was as if I was looking through a lens of past experience and remembering when that was me. The fear of judgment, the fear of alienation creeping up because of the everyday experiences in high school only to learn that we were all thinking that same thought. But to only be relieved that we are all here for a reason. Right next to you was, as Fiona would eloquently say, “a beautiful person” with a beautiful heart who only wanted to spread the love.
I am quickly filling these pages with words on my way back to Seattle now that I know what this immersion did to me; better yet what this group did to me. They showed me the real definition of what love is. I didn’t really know what that was, because I’ve constantly had fake love shown by friends who surrounded me and I don’t know how or when I would’ve learned that without this group. But as I am walking the tightrope trying to become a strong woman and figure out this thing called life, I know I have 35 amazing people behind me.
Saying goodbye to Guatemala is bitter, but saying hello to my new friends is sweet. Without being uncomfortable by facing your fears, the fear of “no,” the fear of a broken heart, the fear of failure, you may never find what you never knew you needed. And for me, Simone Evans, that was love.