I arrived home from WJMC back on Saturday, July 16, 2016…but just because I was home did not mean the journey was over. If anything, it had only just begun. Arguably, I cried the most on Friday, departure day. Okay, cried is quite the understatement, but I have a lot to say. On Friday, I was not at all ready to come home to small Red Bluff. I had had so much fun, so many fantastic memories and so many more grayt friends that I did not want to leave. The thought of being separated by thousands of miles and being forced to pretend that those people hadn’t captured my heart was simply too much to bear. They showed me that anyone can become a part of one’s life: all someone has to do is let them in. And so now as tears stream down my face for the umpteenth time since arriving home, I turn the spotlight to them because they are the most deserving at this point.

Olivia- Just like me, you are loud and crazy sometimes, and you are also emotional, which is okay because I learned from you that being yourself is one of the most important aspects in life. While you’re a hard core Bostonian and I am a California girl, we truly related to one another, even if all my sleeping on the bus pissed you off. Always remember that hot picture of a girl sleeping on a bus is me because I will always remember one Bill Clinton impression.

Kayla- At the beginning of the week, I was not in the slightest a Kanye fan. In a matter of days you forever changed that and I will never forget to award you that credit nor your insight on how to better integrate the section of the National American History Museum concerning only African Americans in US History alongside the rest of the museum.

Cat- For a cheerleader, you shattered the mean girl stereotype. You were so thoughtful and considerate, and you never failed to surprise me with your insight on just about any information presented to us.

Emma- For someone so much younger than most of us, you were the most mature. For someone so young you seemed the most grown up, but most importantly you never forgot to enjoy your youth that week. For teaching me to enjoy being a teenager while also learning the ropes of adulthood responsibilities, thank you.

Tim- I had never even heard of a Dank meme before WJMC. Now every time I see one, I will always think of you and how chill you can be, even when tearing up the dance floor or sitting next to me when Assad Khan doesn’t let me introduce him like I was supposed to.

Sophia- You were surprised at how chill I was when you told me that Olivia had taken a picture of me sleeping on the bus. If there was anyone at WJMC I could have gotten to know better, it was you. You were always quiet, but always had a way of silencing the room when you had something to say.

Brittney- I hope I spelled your name right because you’re not in the group chat. You fall into the same boat as Sophia, but I learned from you that silence can mean everything yet nothing all at once. I found that absolutely beautiful.

Joel- You always had something to say and do. We looked up to you as a leader and we still do. You taught me that not all Texas people are the same and their hearts can come in all shapes and sizes. While you didn’t display so much emotion on departure day, the fact you still eagerly reach out to us only goes to show the inseparable bond you forged with us all.

Zoe- Much like myself, honesty is a must when it comes to you. You were seemingly fearless whenever you interjected into the conversations and you held your head high. Never lose that quality about you. It speaks volumes.

Haley- While you may call yourself, “Ginger Freak”, you are part of another family in my world, but certainly not a freak of any kind. You know how to make people laugh, how to comfort them, how to relate to them all, and how to keep your decisions fair. I’m so glad I know I can Skype such an agrayzing person.

Alexis- You may not stand a chance when it comes to Never Have I Ever, but that makes you a fun Kansas girl. For someone landlocked in the Mid West, that game unveiled that you have done a lot in your lifetime.

Ariella- Not only do you have a beautiful name, you also have a bright personality. You taught us that laughter can be obtained in almost any situation. The first half of WJMC it just seemed like you were never present when Logan needed you to count off, Number Two.

Julia- You always seemed to be just there. When someone needed someone else they can relate to, you piped up. I always got a vibe of wisdom from you. I could never shake that feeling when someone was emotional you just knew.

Kaiden- I could not have asked for a better person to have girl talk with when walking around DC on Thursday. You pulled on my heartstrings in such a gentle manner that I almost didn’t realize it when I opened up to you. Not many people are able to do that to me.

Alex- You are smart, witty, and unbelievably funny. Most importantly, you reminded me that sometimes you just gotta roll with the punches. You were always there to light up someone’s day whether or not they needed it. Thank you.

Jules- You were spunky and interesting. I was always hooked on every word that came out of your mouth. You are so fair, kind and compassionate. Stay that way.

Veronica- You may think you’re not that smart or interesting, but reality says it is the total opposite. You are sassy and humorous, and you know how to bust some moves on the dance floor. Stay strong and true to who you are.

Cara- I hope your aunt recovers from whatever she had to go to the hospital for well. I completely understand the roller coaster of emotions you went through on Friday. You were always able to make someone smile just by speaking your mind.

Jenna- I nearly forgot you, but you, like many others, you made me smile. You always looked past the bad moments and from them created good ones. You would always be there for us, and it was you who first opened up to us and caused us to reach out to one another. I can’t thank you enough.

Last but not least, Garrett- We may have an identical sense of humor, but I learned perhaps my most important lesson from you: I will always have friends out in the world. All I have to do is step out of my personal sphere and reach out to new acquaintances. When things go wrong, I know I will always have your shoulder to lean on. Just remember that you will always have mine when you need it.

Collectively, I learned that I will have twenty of the most fantastic with me for the rest of my life. We might argue, we might fight, we might not see eye-to-eye, but at the end of each day we put aside those differences and have a good time. I now forever know that no matter how far away time takes us from each other, all they ever have to do is text me, and I will come racing to my phone for them, regardless of the storms I may be facing back home.


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