Connections

It has been almost a year since I found out that I would be a member of CR 10. It feels like just yesterday but I know I am a different person now then I was back then. It has been a while since I’ve returned to this blog so forgive me for I may be a bit rusty. I find it difficult to return to the experiences of this past summer on CR with the hustle and bustle of sophomore year but I will do my best without getting too sentimental. Here goes nothing…

Coming back from Europe, I felt as if the whole experience was a dream. We packed so much into each day it was truly difficult for me at the time to fully appreciate what we had the opportunity to witness. Family and friends wanted to know every detail of the trip: where we went, what we did, what my favorite city was, who my familia was. Every time I tried to answer, I could only think how my words could never accurately relay the sensory overload I had gone through. How could random facts and anecdotes fully describe this experience to an outsider? How can I introduce to you every member of my familia and explain every experience we had shared together: the laughter, the frustrations, the tears, the awe, the struggles, and the goodbyes? The truth is, I definitely did a poor job of explaining CR to everyone, but I think that is ok. In fact I think that is the point. We call ourselves a family because only we can truly understand what happened in Europe those famed 3 and a half weeks. The weeks where a group of essentially strangers became family.

Connections, this entire experience revolves around them: connecting flights to arrive in Berlin, connecting trains in between countries and cities, and connections that Dr. Pitcock has cultivated so that we may have this experience.  One particular connection that has stuck out to me is the relationship with Dr. Pitcock. Fabio, owner of the restaurant Francesco Vini. It is a friendship that has grown from opposite ends of the world. It spans across two completely different cultures and yet it still flourishes, so much so that we, the students, can benefit from this connection. When we first ventured out into the strange and unknown world of Europe, we 16 were awkward, nervous, and excited around each other all at once. From my experience, there were times that I thought for sure it was a mistake for Dr. P. to choose me to come along for this journey. I couldn’t see how I fit in with the group. But as we all endured the same travels, laughs, tears, and joys, I felt connected with my group in a way I could never be connected with anyone else. While we were all on our own personal journeys, the fact that we journeyed together connected us in ways we never thought were possible.

Since school started, I have been so swamped with classes and extracurriculars that I have found it tough to find time to simply reminisce about our experiences. I found myself so lost in my academics that I was missing the relationships that I had built over CR without even realizing I was missing them. I missed quoting vines and laughing till I cried with Brittany. Her insightfulness kept me on my toes as I would never miss a moment to hear what she had to say. I missed navigating and kayaking with Marat. His compassion and thoughtfulness to consider every member of the group taught me to better consider other’s needs above my own. I missed the joy and smiles from Lauren that I relied on to keep me going when times got tough. The open love she exudes for everyone taught me to care and love more deeply than I thought I ever could. I missed practicing my terrible Australian accent with Indigo and her head turning, bubbly laugh that made my day whenever I heard it. When hearing her voice, whether she was singing or participating in conversation, you couldn’t help but give her your full attention. I missed having intellectual conversations with Ryal where I felt like I was learning more than I was teaching. His ability to be astoundingly intelligent yet his determination to make sure everyone in the group had a voice helped me realize what kind of leader I should aspire to be.  I missed having Brooke as a clear and decisive leader whose judgement I could rely on and who I would follow anywhere with no question. She was the shoulder I could lean on when I was too tired to carry on and she taught me how to lead by example. I missed Audrey’s calmness in the most frustrating circumstances and her ability to mediate differences without ever losing her cool. I also missed her surprising humor and her well timed jokes that could lighten the hearts of anyone within ears reach. I missed having Emma as a confidant for anything. No topic was too personal nor too difficult to share with her as she would open up just as much as you opened up to her. I missed Jake and his never-ending quotability and his voice that commanded the attention of a room whenever you heard it. His smile can light up a room and I can never forget the pure, deep friendship he pursues with everyone. I missed talking about literally anything with Abby. From politics to music, I found out we were essentially the same and I could always turn to her when I needed reassurance in my thoughts. I missed the discussions about religion with Jacob and his ability to teach me about traditions that I had no experience in. He pushed me to become more versed in other traditions. I missed the unapologetically deep questions that Kyle would ask to genuinely get to know each person. He was the catalyst for which I could analyze my own experiences and introspect on how that made me the person I am today. I missed learning about art and music and culture in general from Olivia Chambers. Easily the most well informed person in the group, she taught me to have a more global vision and how to enjoy life’s every moment at the same time. I missed Olivia Wales’s ability to capture every moment in its disastrous perfection. To spend any moment with her is to know pure joy and she taught me to look for special moments in the most unsuspecting of times. I missed shopping with Taylor and her never-ending adventurous spirit. She taught me to love myself and everyone around me without hesitation. I missed Lindsey and her ability to build relationships with each of us. She never shied away from difficult conversations as she sought to teach with humor and experience. She taught me to listen with a clear mind and a full heart. And of course, I missed Dr. Pitcock. Man, if I could write everything down that he has done for me and all of CR, this post would never end. I don’t know where I would be today without his guidance. He guided us through Europe, through hard days, through good days, through tough conversations, through forgotten memories, and essentially, he guided us to finding ourselves. I could not possibly thank him enough for all he has invested in us. I truly believe in his ability to form a team, no, a family.

I know it might seem like I am rambling, but this is honestly what CR is about. It’s not about the places or the cities. It’s not about the food or even the beauty of our surroundings. It’s about the people. The memory of people in history, forgotten and infamous, and it’s about the people who I got to experience it all with. Thank you, each and everyone of you for being a part of my life. Mia familia.

Signing off,

Nishanth Sadagopan

 

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Team Alpha

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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

all-in Familia

Wow. Second semester freshman year has come to a close, and with one door closed, another opens! CR10 is here! Time to be all-in 24/7!

In less than 24 hours, we’ll be across the pond, making our way to meeting in an infamous Starbucks within Berlin’s airport. Our flights are booked, bags are packed, and I’m one sleep away from meeting these incredible leaders (and hopefully soon-to-be best friends) in Europe!

When I found out that I got to be a part of CR10 nearly five months ago, I was so so ecstatic about getting to be a part of this experience, and Europe always seemed like an exciting, but distant adventure. Even up until finals, it seemed far away. But now, as we are hours away and I’m thinking about the flight, it’s all becoming super real.

With this reality, I have some goals for this trip. First, I want to be ALL-IN – creating lifelong, deep friendships with everyone on CR10. I know this is possible.

Funny enough, I was reading through a journal entry from my mission trip to Kenya where I went with 30 other high school students from my church and one of my takeaways was how I was all-in from the beginning in investing in those relationships. Investing in deep relationships from day 1 was one of my goals for that trip, and at the end, I felt I accomplished it. No matter how tired or sick I felt on that trip, I did my best to give my all – love all-in – and I want to do the same on CR.

This was one of my goals for freshman year that I kinda let slip with the sheer number of friends I met this year – total regret not being all-in and so sad I only looked back on this journal entry now! But now is the time to be absolutely ALL-IN, because these people on this trip are incredible!

Incredible could even be an understatement. I was trying to tell my mom about everyone going on this trip, and wow, y’all are AMAZING!

Here are some of my goals:

  • Be ALL-IN and fully invested in making deep relationships
  • Learn about each of the cultures we are immersed in
  • Adventure!
  • Be more comfortable in unknown situations
  • Understand how to balance my extroverted and introverted sides
  • Express my deep love and appreciation for people and situations
    • this is big! so people know how much I deeply care for them ❤

Shortly after being selected for CR10, I realized how much of a Familia each of the cohorts are. I want CR10 to be Familia. Family so close that we would do anything for each other, understand the strengths and weaknesses of one other, encourage and empower one another, and lead each other on. This possibility of Familia has become so much more real, and I’m so excited to fully invest in everyone! Bring on the early mornings, late nights, strenuous hikes, nerve-racking jumps, and confusing maps. Every situation brings an opportunity to grow closer with one another.

I hope through CR10 I will better understand my strengths and weaknesses, learn how to balance my introversion and extroversion, and practice how to best love others the way they want to be loved. I want to bring back Familia to TCU – a bond so tight that together we will lead on together because we stand together, pursue one anther, and push each other to excellence. I want to learn how to be all-in always – following God’s will, all-in to build His kingdom – and knowing when and how being all-in involves taking time for myself to reflect while doing life in community.

Berlin here we come and I could not be more excited to do life with this Familia! Look forward to lots of pictures and memories to come!

With love,

Lauren Rasmussen

(selfless promo – follow @texaschristianuniversity on Instagram, we’ll be doing takeovers :D)