December 21, 2016. 11:26 a.m.: I receive a text message from Eli Reynolds saying, “Christmas is a good season, Will. For some reason I thought of you when I saw this video.” I open the link to watch said video. As the video plays, my mouth drops open and I sit in awe, not believing what I’m watching. I am totally caught off guard that I was just accepted to Cultural Routes 9. I quickly respond to Eli with 4 short, but true, messages,
“Oh my goodness”
“I don’t even know what to say”
…in that sequence.
May 16, 2017. 7:26 a.m.: In the past 146 days, my thoughts and emotions haven’t really changed since that morning of December 21, 2016. These four text messages still reign true in my life, right now.
“Oh my goodness”: What in the world am I about to do? Throughout the past 146 days I have often tried to convince myself that I am ready for this trip. That I know what to expect. That I’m fully equipped, packed, and ready to roll. But, in fact, that is not true. As I sit here this morning, writing this last blog from the States, I know that I’m not completely ready (literally, my bag isn’t completely packed) and that I’ll never be fully prepared for this trip. But, that’s okay with me. I think there is something raw and authentic about going into an experience unprepared, ready to take each moment by storm. And, that is something that I hope I do every single day. I hope that I never lose sight of what I am about to be doing for the next 3.5 weeks. I hope that I never forget that I have the opportunity to spend 25 days exploring, learning, and conversing with 15 other unbelievably spectacular students, Dr. P and Mollie.
“I don’t even know what to say”: This one is interesting, because normally I have a decent ability to articulate my emotions and put them into words; but right now, I can’t. I am experiencing a conglomeration of emotions and thoughts right now, and I can’t seem pinpoint the root of it all. I am primarily excited (obviously), but with feelings of nervousness, awe, incompetency, enthusiasm, and more. But, that’s also okay with me. What’s cool about this trip is that not one of us knows what is coming for us. Every day is an adventure from which we can learn, grow, and be challenged. And I hope to do just that. I hope that I, and the rest of the group, will learn to desire growth and to desire to be challenged. I hope that each one of us relentlessly asks questions to dig deeper into the roots of the history we will learn about, the roots of the stories that make up us as individuals, and the roots of who we want to become during our next three years at TCU. Questions breed communication, so I want to ask lots of questions.
“Thank you”: Thank you. Thank you to my parents who are letting me go to Europe for 3.5 weeks during my summer. Thanks for not making me stay back in Raleigh to get a boring job. Thank you to Dr. P for trusting me and this group enough to take us to foreign places to explore. Thank you for investing so much of your time throughout this semester planning for this trip, and thank you for taking so much of your time this summer to invest in each of us. Thank you to past CRers, who have encouraged me throughout my time at TCU and going into this trip. This past year has been one of immense growth because of all these individuals, and I can’t wait to see what growth comes out of the next few weeks.
“!!!!!!!!!!”: Well, here we go. Just a few more hours before I leave for the airport and board a plane to London, and then to Berlin. It’s insane to think that in 24 hours, my dreams of going on Cultural Routes will finally be in fruition, and I’m so eager to hit the ground running. I am definitely not completely prepared, but let’s do this thing. Let’s embrace our weaknesses and fears, let’s join together in excitement and awe, and let’s expect to discover people and places we have not seen and cultivate our minds. Cultural Routes 9, we’re coming for you (literally).