As we reached the top of Cavehill just as the sun was setting I couldn’t help but think, “Wow. I’m really here. This is actually happening.” It was an a-ha moment amidst a jam packed week full of new faces and information. It was in that moment that I knew I was exactly where I was meant to be. I had anticipated what it would be like to live in a foreign country all summer long, but the sight of rolling green hills overlooking the city of Belfast surpassed any emotion I could’ve expected. This was Ireland, and it felt like home.
I searched for a word to describe my innate longing for my Irish roots and I came across the German word ‘fernweh’, meaning, “a crave for travel, being homesick for a place you’ve never been.” Everything about this program and this place felt like home from the moment I arrived. On the edge of Cavehill I was surrounded by twenty three other people I had never met before, each one with their own story and unique journey that brought them to this exact moment. And yet, we felt like a family. We had traveled across the world for similar reasons, with the same intentions, and a collective understanding of the legacy we hoped to leave behind. We had fears and anxieties, doubts and hesitations, but once together those uncertainties seemed to melt away.
Every day since being here has been a new adventure and a chance to learn. Things that I once took for granted (checking the time, paying in cash, getting from point A to point B) now require a tad more effort and innovation, but I can already feel myself growing in the process. Throughout our training week we were told to be our authentic selves this year and to leave a footprint behind. Just as I hope to touch the lives of so many here, I can already say that every person I’ve met thus far has left a lasting mark on my own journey. From the thirteen year old girl at the Cremlin Leisure center who explained the history of the catholics and protestants to me, to the traditional Irish band who welcomed Kenzi and I with laughs and good music on our first night in Dublin, to our Dublin Meteors team and coach Greg who spoke to us in a common language through basketball, my experience thus far has been weaved together by the people I’ve encountered. The best part? The journey has just begun. I’m so incredibly grateful to be here, to be home. Cheers!