By now, you have probably heard about our wonderful adventures at powerful locations such as Treptower Park, the East Side Gallery, Checkpoint Charlie, or the Soviet Memorial. With all of these amazing cites, the question “What was your favorite part of the experience so far?” can be very difficult to answer. However, after talking with several other people about the differences in our daily journeys, I have seen a difference in what I have gotten out of the historically rich city of Berlin. Ryal, Emma, and I went to Frog Camp Berlin last summer, and we all agreed that it was a very special opportunity to have been able to see the city twice on two totally different experiences. Of course, all of the memorials of both tragedy and redemption were extremely moving and emotional, but I wanted to focus on the interactions between the people that make up the newest additions to the Familia.
I was a member of the A Team (aka team Alpha aka the type A type A’s aka the Alpha Dogs), which was composed of Emma, Nishu, Brooke, OC (Olivia Chambers), and myself. Each day we were given a word like “connect” or “patience” or “starburst” that we should make the theme of the day. The great thing about team Alpha was we never had to try to implement any of those themes. The first day we all connected with our passionate hearts about the tragedy of the Holocaust, the second day we naturally communicated our feelings to each other that made patience come as second nature, and starbursting was something we’d been doing from the word “go” the very first day.
My favorite part of the experience thus far has definitely been growing closer to Team Alpha. We may not have had a theme song or secret handshake, but we all dug deep to get to know each other. I felt like Dr. P trying to take notes on each person because they were all so fascinating. It’s amazing to see how our differences can bring us closer together than some similarities can. For example, our bonding did not come from us having the same Meyer’s Briggs personality types, it came from our differing perspectives on what we looked for in significant others, what we want to do with our lives, how we interact with our families back at home, what makes us all tick, etc.
So I thought I’d make this blog post to show the things I love about them with the hope that you will have the opportunity to know and love them too.
Pictured above Is Nishu; he’s a total stud. He is extremely passionate about medicine and his biggest goal in life is to leave a permanent impact on the world of either neurosurgery, heart disease, or cancer research. He enjoys the classic “music and medicine” school of thought and loves to explore all parts of his brain; he’s in the jazz band at TCU and can make sick beats on his computer. His producer name is “The Nerd,” and he is unable to touch his toes in mid air (see above). Nishu is from Chicago, but his mother preaches at a church in Wisconsin while his father is an engineer in Indiana. It was incredible to hear about the unique position he had to travel to all three of those places and build connections in them. He was raised in a house that celebrated both Christianity and Hinduism, which is extremely unique and allows him to have a very different outlook on life. He truly cares for everyone and believes in equality of all cultures and people. We brought this up several times, and it was an extremely fitting topic of discussion in a city of Berlin; the former capital of oppression and systematic racism. I loved hearing Nishu talk about how a doctor saved his father’s life, and how he wants to give back to the field however he can. Not to mention, this guy is definitely one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. He was so observant that he explained to us that a slightly chilly day could be described as “slightly colder than warm.”
Okay, honestly I have no idea what my life would be like without Emma. She has become one of my closest friends over the last year and has made such an incredible impact on me that ranges from something as small writing encouraging notes and leaving them on my Bible in my room back in Milton Daniel to something as large as reminding that my self worth is something so strong that not even I can screw it up. But in the course of this week, I have loved watching her grow and learn more about herself. She discovered that her personality was a little bit different than any Meyer’s Briggs test could ever tell her. And she discovered (though probably already knew) that she is amazing at reading maps in German. Emma is a very independent person, but is incredible at supporting others and letting other people support her. Sometimes I feel like she already has a lot of the answers and asks questions to make other people realize they might have some of them too. Emma comes from a family that absolutely loves Jesus. She can’t pick a favorite family member because they all inspire her in different ways, but she has a heart for law and justice, and wants to pursue law just like her father. She just cannot do criminal law; she never wants to be in a position to defend someone who she knows is in the wrong and have to fight for something she doesn’t believe in.
Above is Brooke Boisvert. I also finally discovered how to pronounce her last name this week: it’s like boy-ver. I think. Honestly who knows. Anyways, Brooke is truly amazing. I started the starbursting moment off strong with the classic, “So Brooke, tell me about your family.” It’s amazing how much you can learn about a person just from that one statement. I learned about her amazing parents who have been excellent role models for her, her two brothers who are way cooler than she is. Living with two younger brothers has been an incredible experience for her; she’s gotten to watch them grow and mature in ways that are different from her own experiences. Brooke was a killer navigator in Berlin and was probably the sole reason we were able to figure out the S-Bahn/U-Bahn system. Her sense of humor is pretty much the same as mine, so we got along very well. While we only had a few heart-to-heart talks throughout the time in Berlin, we were comfortable with walking in silent contemplation next to each other, which says a lot more about a relationship than the ability to make small talk. Brooke is just one of those people that can be the both the funniest and deepest person you’ve ever met at the same time. I love how this combination allows her to utilize empathy for everyone around her and know how to react to whatever situation with the exact right words or actions.
Last but certainly not least is Olivia Chambers (aka OC). OC is, as Shrek would put it, like an onion because she has layers. And I’m not talking about the layered look that California’s usually pull off. I took a class with her in the fall and got to hear her perspective on many subjects as it was a seminar-style honors class, but she never brought up stuff like the fact that she was a professional musical theatre actress back in the day. This blew our minds when she finally revealed that to us, and it really speaks to her humility. One of the questions that our group brought up was “what qualities do you look for in a significant other?” And I absolutely loved her answer. She said she doesn’t feel like she should be going through life with a list of expectations to check off; she’ll just be disappointed by not getting exactly what she wants. OC is comfortable with taking her hands off the wheel and letting the Lord make the plan. Olivia truly goes through life viewing everything and everyone as a gift to be appreciated and she always manages to find the light in the darkest places.
The words above could never come close to fully conveying how incredible the people with whom I got to explore Berlin were, but I thought I should give them some credit in their ability to carry out one of most important things we set out to do: build a familia.