So little time left! Just one day now separates my time here at UPenn from returning home. While I still possess a sense of nostalgia after being away from home for close to a month now, I will miss the routine I have established here. Waking up every morning anxious for the day, attending classes and spending time in the evening with my friends as we all become closer. I will even miss the small miniscule aspects of my everyday lifestyle here. Saying good morning to the security guard at the door as I walk to class each day, the intense humidity and even the continuous sound of construction dispersed throughout the campus. I cannot say I am not say that I do not miss home, because I honestly do. However, I have come to love my life here and all the things that make each day memorable. It will hurt me a lot to leave but I know that I have made the most of the experience I have had the opportunity of being given. I feel as though I am a changed person who is ready to enlighten the world he lives in.
Moving on to today. Personally, today was one of the most memorable days out of this entire program. Unlike most days where we would either have a guest speaker come in to give us a lecture or go out on field trips into the city, today was dedicated to the students. For both sessions anyone could take a turn and give a short presentation about a topic they either felt passionate about or felt that they profoundly related to. The array of topics bewildered me. Some were on key issues with the world, however, most revolved around personal experiences and personal intrigue. Topics ranged broadly, from the Invasion of Iraq to analysis of the Chinese education system. Even more personal issues were brought into discussion, such as the confines of beauty and racial profiling. However, with each topic, one thing was common in each and every one of them, the speakers spoke with a fervent passion. It was something that completely blew me away. Where I attend school, often very few display such a fervor for what they believed. However, being surrounded by countless individuals who displayed this vehemence was breathtaking , especially when each did so in a unique way. Some recited speeches, poems or even articles. Some spoke from the heart and others used the power of music to make a compelling argument for their perspectives. To me it was truly one of the highlights of my time here at the program. I had bonded heavily with many of my classmates but after this experience I felt that I knew them all on a much deeper level. I was able to broadly understand some of the hardships they had faced or where their points of view were placed. More importantly was that it was a unifying exercise. It is hard to think that only three weeks ago, we were all strangers to each other, however now, it seems as though we have all become close friends. At the end of the session, many were already beginning to show signs of sadness for the end of the program. Some were already displaying tears and hugs and songs were exchanged all around.
The evening was not as adventurous as one could hope, but it still possessed a many memories that I will carry with me for a long time. Right after class, a few of my friends from my RC group and class, all decided to have one last game of soccer together at Penn Park. We ended up playing for close to 2 hours before we were all exhausted. Regardless, it was incredible being able to have fun together playing the one sport we all have an immense passion for. Later on, the evening was more oriented towards my friends in my social justice class. In order to give appreciation to all the teaching fellows, Andy and all the others who had shaped our experience in the course drastically, one of the students in the class decided to make posters for each of them where we would all sign and show our appreciation. For me this was a great display for how unified we had all grown over the course of the last 3 weeks. Instead of just ending the program, we wanted to go out with a bang and show how much everyone has meant for us. Moreover, it was great to spend more time together outside of class where we could joke around and just have fun. It displayed a new side of all of us that lay hidden during class discussions.
As my time here draws to a close, I cannot help but feel sad. Sad because I am leaving one of the greatest experiences I have ever had. Sad because I know unfortunately I may never see some of the friends I have made here ever again, although I hope to do my best to stay in contact with as many people as possible. While I look forward to tomorrow, I know that it will be difficult to say goodbye at the end.