Unapologetically Me

To start this blog post honestly, I thought writing a final reflection on CR would be much easier than this. I just can’t seem to find the words adequate enough to completely describe all that is Cultural Routes and how it changed me for the better. One thing I know for sure is that CR would not be the same had it not been for every single person chosen for CR10. I was a little nervous coming in because I didn’t know many people initially, only some slightly familiar faces from Milton. I was nervous I was going to have to put on a mask and change my personality in order to fit the group dynamic. But as early on as our very first meeting, I quickly realized that feeling out of place would never become an issue with these amazing individuals. After we all landed in Germany to embark on our 3.5 weeks together, I started to see glimpses of the “Familia” that those of CR past had gushed about. As we hit the ground running in Berlin, there were already connections being formed. I realized I was already letting my guard down and knew that I could fully be myself.

But it wasn’t until we reached Italy that I realized the true meaning of Familia. As we handed out our awards at our final dinner, I realized how incredibly lucky I was to be surrounding by the most genuine and caring people I had ever met. I realized that the next morning, we all would be flying home and our time on CR was coming to a close. But I had realized that these individuals were so much more than friends, they were family.

The experiences I had this past summer were only shared with my fellow CR10-ers and can never be replicated (as much as we all want to try to crash CR11). I would never trade these experiences for the world and I wouldn’t want to have experienced a single moment of it without my Familia by my side.

My CR family constantly laughs at my jokes, no matter how terrible or poorly timed. My CR family never fails to put a smile on my face or laugh until I cry. My CR family is there for me anytime I need to lean on them. My CR family never lets me take a single moment for granted.

CR wouldn’t have been the same without Lauren’s radiating joy and Brittany’s amazing vine references and the ability to always uplift someone’s mood. CR wouldn’t have been the same without Kyle’s contagious smile and laugh, Marat’s calming spirit, and Indigo’s amazing voice that left us all in tears. CR wouldn’t have been the same without Jake’s ability to grow deep relationships by always knowing exactly what to say or without Ryal’s ability to be an incredible fearless leader. CR wouldn’t have been the same without Abby allowing me to be fully myself or the Olivia’s being able to always leave everyone dying of laughter. CR wouldn’t have been the same without Emma’s inviting spirit, always having her arms wide open, or Brooke’s ability to allow us all to think deeper about the world around us. It wouldn’t have been the same without Jacob constantly having all of our backs or Nishu with his booming laugh that is enough to make anyone’s day. And CR would have not even happened had it not been for Dr. P and his constant dedication and support or Lindsey choosing to spend half of her summer with all of us.

Lauren, Brittany, Kyle, Marat, Indigo, Jake, Ryal, Abby, Olivia W, Olivia C, Emma, Brooke, Audrey, Nishu, Jacob, Lindsey, and Dr. P; Thank you for letting me be unapologetically me.
For the final time,
Taylor Long

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