Just before my alarm went off this morning, a thought flew through my brain. “It’s the last day today”. I opened my eyes and looked around my dorm. My roommate was still asleep and the soft light of the morning was just peeking out. I listened to the birds chirping for a while, and then thought about how peaceful it was. Throughout these two weeks I didn’t realize how quiet it gets in Providence. Back home, I am constantly awoken by dogs barking, racing cars, fireworks, trains, and even gunshots.
Then I carried all my stuff downstairs to Kendra, who was already there. I must say taking all my stuff down was way harder than taking it up three flights of stairs. As I was walking down the stairs an overwhelming feeling of realization occurred to me. I would no longer walk up and down these stairs.
I packed my umbrella into my carry-on backpack and left it with Kendra. As soon as she drove off it started to rain. The rain was a soft drizzle, and relieved me from the morning heat. I headed to the Ratty for my last breakfast there. Of course, I had my usual oatmeal and coffee. I said good morning to the woman who always scanned me in and greeted me with a smile. I think that these little things about Brown that I didn’t really think about before, are going to be things that I vividly remember.
I went back to my dorm with Bianche to get our fans and return them, my RA told me that they opened at 9:00 AM so I thought I could get it turned in early instead of later. Unfortunately when we went to the building the door was locked and no one was inside. So we went to class which started at 9:30 today.
Mary Grace was sitting in her usual spot at the front of the class, and waiting for everyone to arrive. I kept thinking about how this was the last time I might ever see her again, and I wanted to cry. She has been so inspirational and empowering. To start off class she put up two quotes on the wall. We were going to write about each. The second quote read “Knowledge makes me more aware, it makes me more conscious. ‘Knowing’ is painful because after ‘it’ happens I can’t stay in the same place and be comfortable. I am no longer the same person I was before.” - Gloria Anzaldua.
I decided to write about the second one because I felt like I could say more about it. I talked about how I interpreted it as knowledge is a good thing since it makes us aware of issues that we need to know about, but with that knowledge comes a price. This burden of bearing awareness, can be quite heavy on some shoulders. It causes us to feel discomfort with ourselves and society. However, with this knowledge we can take two paths, either ignorance or action. To choose ignorance would mean to pretend that you aren’t aware of your knowledge, but to choose action means that you accept that it makes you uncomfortable, and instead of running away or hiding from it. You choose to do something about it to make a change.
Later on we played an activity that was truly heartwarming. I hadn’t had my heart touched so deeply by others in a class setting before. The activity was when students would close their eyes and about five would get up. Then Mary Grace would say something like, “Tap someone who is inspirational”. The five people chosen would silently go around the room tapping shoulders. With every touch from someone, chills went shooting down my spine. I tried so hard to contain my hurricane of emotions, my throat was aching. I felt my eyes closed, and when we were asked “Who has a good heart, so many of my classmates came to me to tap my shoulder. I heard the sniffles and sharp breaths from other girls. I couldn’t bear to try and hold in my tears. My eyes overflowed with hot tears rolling down my cheeks onto my chin to be dropped onto the desk. It felt so incredibly good to let out all of my suppressed emotion. The energy in the class was pure love and support and I couldn’t help but feel so proud and happy of the girls around me. In small groups of five while everyone else’s eyes were closed we took turns tapping shoulders.
After the activity we all showed our faces, mascara stained our cheeks, we laughed about it and wiped it away. Just when I thought that I could stop crying I was wrong, we then went around and talked about what we thought about the class. I wanted to say so much, but I could only mutter out a mere “This class was out of this world.” without choking up and crying some more.
Mary Grace had Imani and Ashley sit in front of the class, where they talked to us about their experience with these two weeks. Their words also warmed my heart. Then we all had the chance to tell them how we felt. While going around I gathered the courage to tell them how I felt. I told them how much I look up to them, and that there couldn’t be anyone else that would be perfect for this opportunity. They are so inspiring, and I look up to them in so many ways. As I was telling them how I felt, I didn’t try to stop the tears falling out of my eyes. I am going to miss them so much.
After that, Mary Grace did something that completely shocked me. She passed out each of us a small bag. Inside the bag was a small Kleenex packet, a rubber band, band aid, Play-Doh, bubbles, and four puzzle pieces.
Each thing represented something relevant to what we will experience throughout our lives. The tissues meant that it was okay to cry. The rubber band meant that we shouldn’t try to stretch ourselves too far out because we can break. The band aid encouraged us to take risks, because even if we do get hurt we will always heal. The Play-Doh symbolized how no one is born a leader, rather we mold ourselves into one over time. The bubbles represented how we will always rise up over the tendencies to be competitive with others, so that we can be better leaders. Lastly, the four puzzle pieces were to signify how we are all a part of one big puzzle, and how one day we will come together again to put our pieces together and make a puzzle.
When class was over, I didn’t want to leave. In fact no one did. We all stood still. Eventually, after complaining about how we didn’t want to leave, we all got up and hugged each other. We took some last photos with each other and headed out to lunch. I am going to miss my new friends, Ashley, Imani, and Mary Grace so much. I’m probably going to cry so much more later. Just writing all of this brings back the emotions from then.
Afterwards we were off to our presentations. My heart dropped so low, it was time for the big event that I had been thinking about all summer. Once I found my lead I introduced myself and talked with her until everyone else came. We walked over to the Brown Center for Students of Color. We walked upstairs and went into a lounge. I was so shocked to see couches, and a coffee table. I was presenting in a living room! All of my anxiety melted away and I felt so relaxed. There were only a few people in the room as well. Since we had to catch a plane, I presented first and afterwards had to rush out to meet with Kendra.
I became so connected with my class. I didn’t think it was possible to create such an open, and supportive environment. From the first day of class to the last, I loved every single moment of this program. I already feel so much more confident, empowered, and strong. Learned so much about leadership, and I was able to look at teamwork from different perspectives.
Even though we had to say goodbye to each other, my classmates, Ashley, Imani, and Mary Grace will stay in my heart for the rest of my life. I will always reminisce about the experience I had this summer at Brown.
I truly owe so much to the ILC, and Don Gosney for dealing with so much, taking care of us, and making sure that everything was going to go smooth. I know that when I go back to class on Monday that I am going to spend all my free time telling them about this life changing experience. I wish that everyone I know could be able to partake in this program.
Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity. One day, I hope to see everyone again, and bring each of our pieces together once again. Just like each person was a piece of our own puzzle of some sort. Without one piece, it wouldn’t be complete.