Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Thank You Don

 The very beginning

This is probably the one blog I least looked forward to writing. The past 6 months were spent with this very trip on my mind, and it's hard to believe that it's now over. I remember the very day almost two years ago where I saw a man named Don Gosney, in a tropical shirt and cargo shorts. I had no idea what the presentation was for, but within 5 minutes I was hooked. I knew this was something I had to pursue, it was as though it was just calling my name.
Color Me Mine

Fast forward a year later, there I am again, sitting in the very same presentation. This time, however, something was different. I was finally eligible to apply, and guess what I did? I applied to the Women and Leadership course at Brown University. It was the program that stuck out to me the most since the first time I heard of the ILC.

I still remember stressing over the application, rewriting the essays at least 5 times, until I was satisfied. I remember sitting in my SAT  prep class and getting a call from Don Gosney, telling me I got the interview.  I remember how excited yet nervous I was. When I submitted my essays, I kept telling myself I wouldn't get the interview, and I remember sitting at the interview surrounded by a group of amazing people telling myself, and them that I wouldn't get into the program. I remember being filled with joy ( and doubt) when I heard Don call my name. I couldn't believe it, I actually got in.

From there began an experience like no other. Going through the tutorial, orientation board meeting, and dinner, everything still felt surreal. I was still in disbelief that I was actually going to Brown. Along the way, however, I began to form friendships with people within the program and it reminded why I signed up for the program in the first place. I loved meeting new people, and surrounding
The dinner
myself with goal oriented people with similar aspirations. All the people within the program worked their way to that position. I saw potential in each and every one of them, I had absolutely no doubt that they would be going far in life.

My cohort and I began to become closer and closer as time passed, and my excitement continued to grow. Planning out all the places we wanted to visit and all the things we wanted to do made me restless. I remember reading all the other cohorts' blogs, to pass time and get an idea of what our trip would be like when the time came.There were definitely a few bumps along the way, but next thing you know we were all gathered at El Cerrito High School at 2 in the morning.

This was my first time away from home for longer than a weekend. I remember feeling homesick the first night, but slowly but surely I began to enjoy myself more than ever. Sophomore year had been incredibly draining, and finally coming out of the nutshell that I called home was exactly what I needed. Although temporary, it was a fresh start. No one knew of each other's past and approached one another with an open mind. All the laughs and conversations were genuine, and I hold them very dear to my heart.

Every bit and piece of this program was a learning experience. The moment you closed your eyes, you would miss out on something amazing.  Coming out of the routine life I had become accustomed to taught me a lot about myself., as well as others. It was such a short period of time, and yet I
The amazing people I met along the way
managed to learn so much. I went to Brown as a different person and have returned as another. Living on your own definitely forces you to grow up, to be independent, and to be responsible. It's something I had to learn, but it's just another thing to add to the list of why this program truly is life changing.

This program allowed me to meet people from all over the world, with entirely different backgrounds, upbringings, and mindsets of my own. I shared a room with someone who's family was in the 0.01% of the world's wealthiest, while that is a life I couldn't even dream of. I met individuals who spoke 5 or more languages, went to the top schools of their countries, and some who played sports at the national level. At first, it was a huge culture shock, but as time progressed,  I got to know
A class for the books
these people, and it showed me that at the end of the day, people are just people, regardless of their backgrounds. Everyone at Perkins got along with each other so well, and we all became incredibly close.

At Brown, I was surrounded by a group of people that empowered one another to become a better person, to feel comfortable in their own skin, and to pursue their aspirations. I had never been surrounded by so many amazing people all at the same time, it was absolutely wonderful. Getting to know these people, and their stories really opened my eyes. My life back home left me with tunnel visioned thought, but being exposed to such a diverse group of people left me with an entirely new perspective.

Throughout my time at Brown, it would be an understatement to say I had fun. I had the time of my life. But all of this would have been impossible if it weren't for one very hardworking and selfless individual: Don Gosney. Thank you. This man definitely deserves more credit than he receives, because of him, an opportunity like this became a reality. If it weren't for him, so many children would not have achieved the success that they have. For me, and many others, this man has opened doors. His priority has always been for us to learn, to grow, and have fun at the expense of his very own health and money. Whether it be working countless hours to raise funds for our trip, or staying up all night organizing every little detail for all the cohorts, checking up on us multiple times a day, making sure we were on the right track, or making sure he photographs the perfect moments. Instead of spending his retirement years in solitude, he works relentlessly to ensure students of our school district do not remain inferior than those of more affluent backgrounds, to ensure we recognize our potential, and to ensure we pursue our hopes and dreams. I know I may have not been the most responsible ILCer, and for that Don, I apologize. Regardless, I am eternally grateful for everything you have done for me, and the others as well. Your efforts mean the world to me. Thank you.
To the very end

1 comment:

  1. Hello Zunarah. I am a Pastor from Mumbai, India. I am glad to stop by your profile on the blogger and the blog post. I am blessed and feel privileged and honored to get connected with you as well as know you and about your interest in meeting new people. I love getting connected with the people of God around the globe to be encouraged, strengthened and praying for one another. I have been in the Pastoral ministry for last 38 yrs in this great city of Mumbai a city with a great contrast where richest of rich and the poorest of poor live. We reach out to the poorest of poor with the love of Christ to bring healing to the brokenhearted. We also encourage young and the adults from the west to come to Mumbai to work with us during their vacation time. We would love to have you come to Mumbai with your friends to work with us during your vacation time. I am sure it will be a life changing experience. My email id is: dhwankhede(at)gmail(dot)com and my name is Diwakar Wankhede. Looking forward to hear from you. God's richest blessings on you, your family and friends.