Its been a true experience, starting from being locked out of the house hours before my flight leaving Atlanta for San Francisco. Then, missing my first flight, and now flying standby. As I approached security I tried to keep together at least until I was out of the sight of my mother and little sister who were now completely in tears, but it didn’t work, I began to cry, actually I kind of fell apart like a 2 year old for several different reasons. Of course because I would be leaving my family that I had always been with and my sister who I have never been away from for more than a week. But also, I was crying out of joy; overwhelmed at the idea that I was there, that I had actually made it! I was at the airport about to embark on the greatest experience of my life thus far. I knew that this trip would change my life. I wasn’t and still am not exactly sure how but I know it will. I realized I was really by myself as I found my way through the airport to my terminal and to a seat. As I waited for my fight any and everything began to go through my head: how were the other Fellows going to be? Would they be a bunch of snobby prep school kids? How would they perceive me as a black girl from Atlanta? Most of all, was I just in over my head? How could I possibly survive without my backbone, my mom? And once again I found myself crying at the airport. So what did I do?
The only thing I knew was to call my mommy, so I did and she could immediately tell I was falling apart. She said, “Chichi, don’t cry, you know why you have done this program, to discover who you are; everything in your life has led you to this. God is with you and so am I. You are going to do amazing things in the next year, more than any college could have taught you this year, and I love you”. After she said those words I prayed and meditated, asked God to give me strength and guidance, then pulled myself together. Soon enough it was time to board the plan to San Fran!! The flight was OK, I sat next to some strange women who went in and out of sleep.
Meanwhile, I continued to pray and meditate, asking for strength, guidance, understanding, hope and faith, faith in what I was doing and faith in myself that I could and would actually do it. Having no idea yet of the strength I would need to just get through Fall Training, not mentioning the in country stay. Once the plane landed I realized that my phone had been turned off by my very angry father who I hadn’t spoken to or seen prior to my leaving. I knew he must have been very mad and probably felt really disrespected. But I just made my way to baggage claim where I was greeted by smiling faces, super excited to meet me, and met the other Fellows, as we all would be taking this journey together. We loaded up all my many bags and headed to fall training at Stanford University. Just in the car alone I learned so much about my fellow Fellows, where they were from and what inspired them to take this amazing bridge year. The stories I heard were amazing and gave me the conformation I need. I knew then that I was exactly where I belonged with the people I belonged with.
By yours truly,