Together We Can

Hannah Phalen


September 2, 2014

There have been only a few times in my life where after only a short time with a group of people, I feel comfortable and supported. These have been the times when we all have a something very strong in common. This time, we all are scared out of our minds yet so excited… but also nervous, sad and curious among so many other emotions. This cluster of emotions is what holds us together and made it possible for us to become this close this fast. In elevent days, we’ve eaten all our meals together, slept with twenty of us in each room, had touching moments, danced endlessly, cried, shared stories and excitement and so much more.

I wasn’t able to be comfortable at first. I arrived not knowing anyone, having just said some of my hardest goodbyes and feeling a million different ways at once. I chose a random group of people to stand by and introduced myself. They could tell I had just said goodbye, and many of them felt the same as I did. They all supported me, barely even knowing my name.

We got on a bus to head for the redwoods. I was mostly quiet during the ride, thinking about how this was just the beginning to so many adventures. Throughout our time in the redwoods, I talked to people. I made small talk and shared meals, but was intimidated by everything I was feeling. We were reassured a million times that “it will all be okay” and I believed it, but at the moment, I felt scared. Night time was the hardest, but I always woke up fine and each day got easier and easier. When asked by my friends and family from home if I had made friends, I initially said, “No… Well, kind of.” I realized that even though I hadn’t made a stronger connection with one or a few particular people, I was now comfortable sparking up conversations with pretty much anyone and they all supported me like a friend would.

We went from sharing the days and nights with over ninety people in California, to fifty in Quito, and now I am sitting in my bedroom of my first home stay alone. But after everything, the whole Pre-Departure  Training and beginning of In-Country Training, I can say with full confidence that yes, I have made friends.

I am so ready for each of us to take this journey. Together, we can get the support we need and get the most of this amazing experience.

Hannah Phalen