Sentiment in the Silence

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.”

Ciao Europa,

Brooke Boisvert

Ciao, CR10

This blog post is going to be a little different than the rest of the posts I’ve done. Instead of a long post describing a single day in detail, I compiled a list of some of the moments from CR that make me smile.

The first night in Florence: Dr. P surprised us with one of the most beautiful activities yet. We walked along the Arno River and paused by the Ponte Vecchio bridge, one of the few bridges in the area not destroyed by Hitler’s army during World War II. As we were watching the sun set over the Arno, Dr. P walked over to us and asked us if we were ready to get on the river. Sure enough, we looked at the river and saw a gondola waiting for us. We climbed in and floated along the river as the sun set and the lights came on. The streetlights along the river added a fairytale feel to the scene, making the water twinkle in the light. This night makes me smile because I sat next to Brooke, who was laughing with joy the whole time because she was enjoying the experience so much.

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The second night in Florence: Dr. P made sure to bring us to the Piazza della Signoria in time to see the street musicians. We relaxed on some nearby steps as we listened to a guitarist play hit songs to a soundtrack in the background, eventually ending with the tenor aria Nessun Dorma. Next, to my surprise and joy, a flute player arrived to perform. As another flute player, my jaw dropped in awe as this man began to play. His flute playing was absolutely magical! He opened with “Beauty and the Beast” and blew everyone away with his performance. He also ended his performance with Nessun Dorma, filling the air with his magical sound. I smiled the whole evening listening to him play and looking around at the artwork in the piazza. Florence is a perfect blend of art, culture, and history rolled into one city. I love music, so experiencing that kind of music in a place so full of creativity and life was an experience I’ll never forget.

The first day in Rome: After traveling to Rome in the morning, we dropped our bags off and had lunch. Unfortunately, I was feeling awful. I had the beginnings of a sinus infection and the symptoms were wearing me down. I could barely focus during the meal because I couldn’t breathe, I felt dizzy, and my throat hurt. Dr. P pulled me aside and suggested that I don’t participate in the cooking class that evening so that I would be rested for the Vatican the next day. I reluctantly agreed. I’m not going to lie, I was heartbroken that I would be missing out on a unique opportunity to learn to make pasta, tiramisu, and other yummy foods with fifteen of my best friends. However, I understood that the Vatican was going to be an experience of a lifetime, so I stayed behind. To my surprise, right before everyone left the hotel to go to the cooking class, Brooke and Emma came into the room and brought me goodies from the store nearby! They gave me a giant bottle of water, a Powerade, some caramel candies, and Kit Kats, which are my favorite chocolate candy bars. It meant so much to me that they thought to treat me and take care of me, knowing I would be disappointed that I was missing out on the class. Even after the class, everyone came in to check on me and see how I was feeling. They even brought me dinner and hung out with me as I ate, telling me stories from the cooking class and joking around. I felt so loved and cared for, which really helped me cope with the disappointment of missing out on the cooking class.

The third day in Rome: We had the opportunity to visit the Villa Aurora, a historic hunting lodge owned by¬†Princess Rita Boncompagni. She gave us a personal tour of the villa, pointing out the breathtaking frescoes and describing the magnificent artwork in each room in detail. We paused in one of the rooms for a while as the princess told us about the history of the villa. She asked us if there were any singers among us, and Indigo raised her hand. The princess then told us we were standing in the room where the idea for opera was born! She then asked Indigo to sing for the group – she wanted to record it and store the in the building’s archives. Indigo agreed. She sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and her angelic voice took everyone’s breath away. She even made some people cry. Afterward, we were stunned and silent for a moment, then rushed her with hugs and smiles while the princess looked on.

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These are just a few of the countless moments of CR that make me smile. It is impossible to describe CR accurately to someone who hasn’t experienced it; the best I can do is describe moments like these. CR is so much more than a trip. CR is an incredible, indescribable experience because of the people we experience it with. Without Indigo, Emma, Olivia Wales, Brooke, Ryal, Kyle, Jake, Jacob, Marat, Nishu, Taylor, Olivia Chambers, Brittany, Lauren, Abby, Dr. P, and Lindsey, the experience would have been completely different. These people pushed me out of my comfort zone, changed my perspective, and inspired me to learn and grow. They comforted me when I was down, made me laugh so hard my stomach hurt, and forged friendships so strong that I know they will last for a lifetime. There is no better way to get to know people than through getting lost together in foreign cities, and as I got to know everyone, I was constantly impressed and humbled by how much I have to learn from these people. I could not be more thankful that I am lucky enough to call all of these people my friends.

Although it pains me to say goodbye to three and a half weeks of life-changing experiences, we are stepping forward into the future together. CR may be over, but we can carry everything we have learned and the friendships we have made into the rest of our time at TCU and beyond. I am sorry to let CR go, but I cannot wait to continue to build these friendships for the rest of my life. Thank you so much, Dr. P and Lindsey, for the opportunity to experience CR. Thank you, fellow CR students, for making CR an experience I will never forget. Tu es familia.