One tradition that has always been big in my family is spending Thanksgiving together every year. All of us gather at my aunt’s house and celebrate like any other American household, by eating tons of food, watching football, and having more than a few laughs. It is by far one of my favorite days of the year (and not just because I love to eat). It is one of the rare times when all of my family has the chance to come together and take a step back from their busy lives to relax and enjoy each other’s company.
This year in being in Ireland, my Thanksgiving was not going to spent in New Jersey like it has been since I can remember. This year the Sport Changes Life family was kind enough to set up a dinner for all the scholars in Belfast, knowing just how much of a staple this day is in all of our lives. Although the trip to Belfast was a long one coming all the way from Limerick, it was a memorable.
We were up in Belfast for 2 days, arriving on Wednesday and leaving Friday night. The first night was enjoyable as all the scholars were able to catch up with each other and talk about how their experiences have been in Ireland up to date. It truly amazes me how each individual has experienced different stuff, especially being divided up all across the country. Thanksgiving Day in Belfast was so enjoyable for me (once again, not because of the food). That morning, we were able to volunteer at a homeless shelter and give back to the community.
Spending the day helping the homeless really is a great reminder of how fortunate I am, and how important it is to give back. All my life, people have been going out of their way to help me, which has allowed me to have the opportunities I have in my life. Giving back and trying to do the same thing for others is a great way to show gratitude, as well as a sense of appreciativeness. There is no better way to do this then by helping those less fortunate, as it puts into perspective that life could always be worse.
That night, we attended the great event put together by the lovely people at SCL. The whole occasion was extraordinary. It was amazing to see how a group of individuals who did not even know one another existed in August, could look like they have been friends for years. The amount of “craic”, as the Irish would say, that went on that night was enormous. The friendships that have been made over the last four months between all the scholars just proves why all of them were chosen to represent this prestigious program.
Every year I always tend to reflect on the great things I have going on in my life, and how I am thankful for so much. However, this year I had the chance to become thankful for so much more. Some of those new things include all the great people I have met over the past couple of months, the ability to spend a whole year in the beautiful country of Ireland for a whole year, and most importantly the opportunity to represent the Sport Changes Life program.
So, although I did not get to spend Thanksgiving at home this year, I was still able to keep the tradition alive and enjoy a great day with the Sport Changes Life “family”.