I can’t count the number of times in the past 3.5 weeks where all I wanted was some peace and quiet. As I’m sure Dr. P can attest, CR10 is known for making our presence known everywhere we go. Whether it’s walking down the streets of Rome or eating dinner in a German beer hall, our energy hits like an uncontrollable wave. While I always appreciated our ability to make life entertaining, my borderline introverted/extroverted personality yearned for just 5 minutes of silence. In those overwhelming moments, that’s what I thought I needed. Yet, here I am, writing in the London-Heathrow airport, sipping on an iced coffee surrounded by thousands of people from all around the world and I’ve seldom ever been more aware of the silence. Though the echoes of rolling suitcases and voices of young children create a monotonous, dull roar, I am overwhelmed by an intense silence; a silence I thought that I needed. But as I sit here and reflect on my unease in the silence, I realize that it’s not the silence that is causing my sadness, but rather the void that the silence represents; the void of my familia.
The noise was always more than just a noise. The noise was Jake Lynn cracking obscure jokes. It was Brittany Harano’s booming laughter. It was Nishu Sadagopan’s insightful knowledge. The noise was the angelic voice of Indigo Crandell, the thought provoking questions of Kyle Hepting and Lauren Rasmussen, and the Parent Trap references of Olivia Chambers and Olivia Wales. It was Emma Hofmeister’s quick wit, Taylor Long’s pristine storytelling abilities, and Abby Souder’s awareness of the world around her. It was Marat Rosencrants’s calming voice and Audrey Payne’s words of wisdom. It was Ryal Reddick’s voice of motivation and Jacob James finding his true inner voice. It was Lindsey and Dr. P’s continuous voice of reason. Sitting in the silence, this void is all too present. In the silence I thought I needed, I yearn for just one more moment in the chaos.
Dr. P told us not to lament at CR being over, but how can I not lament when I feel that part of my heart is being left in Europe? These 17 individuals have impacted my life in ways that I could have never imagined. They taught me to be patient with others around me, to be comfortable following a leader, and to be present in conversation. They forced me to challenge my beliefs and to learn to defend what I believe in while also keeping an open mind to what others have to say. They taught me the importance of intentionality and what it means to put others before yourself. They showed me that life isn’t always perfect, that you will argue over which street to take or where you should eat lunch. But it’s not about being perfect. It’s about accepting one another as they are and appreciating their differences while continually pushing them to be the best versions of themselves.
While I’m sad our European experience is over, I am optimistic about where the future will take us. Cultural Routes has influenced each of us in so many ways and has inspired me personally to make the most of every opportunity that presents itself. We have been given an incredibly special and unique opportunity to use the people we’ve met and the places we’ve been to on CR to catalyze the development of a mindset centered around being a global citizen. In a world that is increasingly more egocentric, it is important that we focus not on what is best for ourselves, but what is best for humanity as a whole. One of the things that was really revealed to me in these past 3.5 weeks was where we find value in other human beings. Throughout history, people have been valued based on gender, race, religion, and nationality and they have been subjected to discrimination based on these qualities. Despite our acknowledgment of these wrongs, they are still present in our society today. While I’m very proud to be an American, I never want to have a view of others that is so nationalistic and selfish as to degrade people unlike myself. In a world that is becoming increasingly more globalized, it is important that we see the value in all of humanity, not just those like ourselves.
CR10 has 3 more years. 3 more years to make a difference at TCU and to create a legacy that will leave TCU a better place. We’ve been given the tools to make it happen. Now, it’s up to us. How much am I willing to do? How much does it matter? Even if I’m not the next student body president and even if I’ll never be the perfect 4.0 student, CR has showed me that I have qualities that extend deeper than grades and visibility on campus. I have qualities that make me unique, that allow me to make deep connections with those around me, and that make me a valuable asset to a cause for change. Big change stems from small actions. They stem from investing in everyone around you and acting upon good intentions and being kind to everyone. As I look toward the future and CR10’s potential to make an impact on campus, I hope to remember the wise words of my mom: “When in doubt, just be kind.”