As I sit down to write this post on a warm Austin afternoon, the waves of nostalgia surrounding the past weekend feel bittersweet. A few days spent in my favorite US city, Washington DC, for the 2019 NSLI-Y Alumni Representative Workshop passed far too quickly. I could dedicate this post to the various things I learnt about State Department jobs, or our packed sessions about event organization and leadership, but I feel that my post from last year did a nice job capturing the events. This year, after my second and last NSLI-Y Alumni Representative Workshop, I want this post to be a tribute to the people, my fellow representatives, who made this experience so memorable.
It’s strange to say that we formed close bonds in a matter of two days, yet it’s certainly the truth. I found that we had so many things to share and learn from one another. As one rep shared her expertise of linguistics, another told me about the role of Arab and Turkish minorities in Germany. I was intrigued to finally meet someone who had participated on the NSLI-Y Russian and Ballet program, and spent many happy moments reliving my summer in Jordan with another alumna who actually stayed with the same host family as me! Of course, I must admit that my appreciation and friendliness devolved into outright hostility during the many NSLI-Y “merch” trivia competitions, wherein I’ll confess I was extremely petty and competitive… anything for NSLI-Y merch, right? 😂 I should also add that this year, I didn’t win a single trivia game. Karma…. *sigh*.
On Friday, a group of us sat in the hotel lobby and worked on calligraphy (guided by an extremely talented rep), and I filled my Arabic notebook with Darija phrases, while sharing some Shaami grammar concepts. The next day was interspersed with conversations in Arabic, Hindi, Spanish, and French, and time spent sharing our favorite international music. Even ice skating, which fills my inner-Southerner with dread, was a blast, undoubtedly due to the amazing people I was surrounded by. Being one of the slowest and most cautious, I was definitely laughed at, but it was still a lot of fun!
Looking back, I laugh at the fact that on Friday morning, I woke up feeling nervous and a little tense. Here I am, just days later, remembering the brief moments we all spent together, and the friendships that we formed. What strikes me about our group of Alumni Representatives is that we are not just individuals, but rather, a community. Whether we were working on activities during session, reading our college essays, or hanging out in DC, there was a sense of cohesion that I am sure will last. To all of the 2019 Alumni Representatives, I want to tell you how much I admire (and already miss) each and every one of you. You inspire me, and I am excited to work with you this year and celebrate your accomplishments. ❤ ❤ The past weekend was too short, but I hope we can all meet sometime in the future, and until then, there’s technology. (Also, to those of y’all who told me at the workshop that you read my blog, thank you! Your support means a lot to me. <3)