I went through my mental checklist about a million times on the way to the airport, frantically scanning my brain in the hopes I hadn't forgotten something vitally important. Thankfully it appeared that I'd been successful in packing everything the night before.
My flight to Dulles Airport was uneventful, and upon arrival I waited until a bus arrived to take us to the 4H center - the site of this year's PDO (PreDeparture Orientation). There was the usual hanging about until rooms were ready, and then we split to go take naps until dinner. All of us going to Oman had a chance to "re-meet" and converse a bit, which was nice, and got to know each other a little better. Later we had a workshop and afterwards all of us went to bed, exhausted as we were.
But the next morning was early wakeup for a long day filled with workshops (eight, to be precise) before we were allowed back to sleep around 10 pm. In between sessions, we talked amongst ourselves and with our alumna group leader, who shared insight regarding Oman. Valuable lessons and program sayings I learned include:
1. It's not good, not bad... Just different
2. Everything will go wrong and it will be okay
3. The 6 of us going to Oman next year will be each others biggest support network
Thursday was DC day... So in the morning, we split off by organization. AMIDEAST manages the Oman and Morocco programs, so we went together to the AMIDEAST center to GooglePlus (Skype is blocked in Oman) with in-country staff. Then we went to the Omani Embassy, followed by a visit to the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center, both of which offered interesting perspectives and lots of useful information.
Next, following lunch, we headed to the State Department, where we met up with the other YES Abroad students. We had a Q&A session inside with a panel of experts on the YES countries, and left feeling that much more confident about ourselves and the journey we are about to undertake. The photos included in this post were taken at our final stop for the day, a bit of touristing around the Lincoln Memorial.
I realize that this Sunday is the first day of the journey for some of us. I wish you all the best - stay safe, be strong, and remember that we all support you, whether or not we can be physically beside you.
🎶Lean On Me - Bill Withers🎶
It's been a long week. Fun, but long. I prepped frantically for the ACT, spent time with my grandparents, and worked on the collection of short stories I am currently writing. Friday morning saw my mother and myself hopping into the car and driving about 2.5 hours to Warsaw. There I studied and we wandered about the city for a few hours before we returned to the hotel and went to bed.
Our wakeup call on Saturday was my phone alarm sounding at 6:15 am to Little Mix's song, "A Different Beat". Snagging the pencils, eraser, and calculator I had set out the night before, we drove to the International School of Warsaw where 16 other students and I intended to take the ACT. Unfortunately for one student, it turned out there were only 16 test booklets. So the last two to arrive were marched to the security office. The one who returned told us that he had arrived 20 seconds before the unfortunate boy who was sent away without a spot.
My mother picked me up at one o'clock from the testing center and we drove to Poznan for a post-wedding dinner, which reminds me - I'd like to extend the biggest of congratulations to my sort-of older brother Philip and his new wife Magda on their marriage!
At this dinner, I met members of the family on both sides, almost none of whom I knew, but all of whom were welcoming. And although I was the youngest person there, I was still able to enjoy myself amongst the company of the other guests. In a way, that is how I imagine Oman to be - new and unknown, but at the same time welcoming and exciting.
So at any rate, this post is about family. Because family is not a thing that is defined by blood, family is an attitude, a love, a mutual feeling of compassion and interest. This summer, on August 26, I will meet my new family. Although I know we will be different in many ways, it is those differences along with the similarities that will bind us together. So, to my families - old, new, and yet to come - I promise to be open-minded, curious, helpful, compassionate, considerate, and most of all, to share a piece of myself with you as I hope you will do the same for me.
🎶A Different Beat - Little Mix🎶
Well, yesterday it hit me like a ton of bricks - this is it. I've graduated. I'm officially a junior. I'm leaving the United States in two months to explore a country halfway around the world that I've never been to before. I have to pack my life into a suitcase, and none of my friends are able to fit.
Hi! My name is Karla Cox. This blog is a compilation of notes, thoughts, and photos from my travels around the world.