May 23rd, 2015 | Uncategorized
Ten months later, and I’m back. We did it. We made it. A year packed with more memories than I can even divulge in one sitting, yet at the same time, it blew past in one big blur.
I remember the commencement of my Irish journey. The interviews before I was inducted into the Victory Scholar family, the phone call offering me a position at the University of Limerick, the application and travel preparation processes. It was all so surreal then, yet somehow just as surreal when I think back to those times now.
I remember my arrival in Dublin airport. I remember my good man Pat O’Neill being the first Sport Changes Life face I saw in person. I remember getting into the van after having a coffee with Aimee the energizer bunny at 6 am. I remember meeting each scholar and the exciting yet anxious period of getting to know one another as we embarked on a year ahead together. I remember very clearly my introduction to Gareth, Deirdre, Marc, and other Sport Changes Lifers who would guide us through the year. From Belfast, to Dublin, to Clonmel to Limerick, the first week of touring the Éire was the perfect prologue for the year ahead.
I remember getting to know my roomie Kelsey in our early experiences at the University of Limerick, and being lucky and thankful to have such a sound of mind person in my academic courses and simply as a friend.
I remember working in the Limerick community, engaging and connecting with youth and adults alike, and getting to know the town and the people of Limerick to the point where I felt as comfortable around town as if it were my home. I can’t forget my classmates, who became closer over the course of the year than I could’ve imagined.
I remember all of my Collingwood Cup and Harding Cup sessions preparing to represent the UL Wolves, the craic had at the cups themselves, and I remember all of the friends that I will undoubtedly keep for years to come. I remember Hillceltic FC, I remember our journey to the top of 2A, and I cannot forget all of the lessons I learned and the family I became a part of.
Outside of Ireland, my travels took me to Paris, Madrid, London, Amsterdam and South Africa, places I would have only dreamed of exploring.
My travels in Northern Ireland were just as enlightening and important to my year’s journey. The Mallon family and the town of Dungannon might have been the hallmark of my entire year, as I was reminded again what family and selflessness means while thousands of miles from my own home.
I could go on and on recounting the great moments and memories, and I hate to sum it up or generalize my experience. However, after such an extraordinary year, I can sincerely say that the past ten months have served as a formative life experience. As I prepare to enter another year in Europe, this time in Spain, the way that I conduct myself, the way that I go about introducing myself into a new environment, and the manner in which I develop and maintain relationships are forever marked by the lessons that I have learned over the past year. Placed in many situations that might at first evoke feelings of anxiety or uneasiness, I have tapped into levels of confidence and self-knowledge that I never thought existed. The uniqueness of this past year is so much more than the year itself. Every single relationship built and every single person that I helped grow also helped me grow in a distinct way. This is because I can truly say that my year is an accumulation of each relationship, each experience, and each memory that transpired every single day. So, although it is important to remember the little things, the small tokens that made each day memorable, what I now carry with me every day is the timeless value of a year that has taught lessons that are best exemplified rather than verbalized. The worth of the year that has just passed deserves to be demonstrated, dispersing the beauty of such a year through acting upon what I have profoundly learned. As I sit in the Georgia sun and reminisce on the year, I know that talking about my year doesn’t do it justice, but personally embodying the growth, love, and learning that the Victory Scholar experience held will be a worthy attempt.