By Robert Sgrignoli
Today, I reflected on how truly lucky I am to have been chosen for this experience. Not only have I had the opportunity to see the textbook come to life, supplemented by actual testimony of those who created history, but I’ve also had tremendous people surround me along the way. When I had originally touched down in Washington D.C., I never expected to be as fortunate as I have been to gain friends such as these.
Originally, I had thought this trip was only going to pertain to the civil rights movement in 1961, but I have been exposed to an assortment of various issues. Whether it was Francisco and Maricela telling me about the DREAM Act, or Doaa informing me on discrimination against Muslims, I have been blessed to have dialogue with them. Every rider on the bus has their own issue that they are concerned about and I wish I had more time to talk with all of them, but the common factor uniting them is their extraordinary determination to change the world.
I am also eternally grateful for the chance to have people help point out my flaws such as Rachael, Anna, Erica and Sarah showing me my own internalized male-supremacy attitude that has been instilled in me by society. My roommate, Ryan, has widely expanded my knowledge and concern for the LGBT community that I have never noticed before.
I am thankful for the opportunity to have hung out with Crews and Petey, two of the most intellectually stimulating and simultaneously hilarious people I have ever met. Having been able to listen to Charles, Tubbs, and Michellay speak on violence showed nothing less than a genuine passion for empowering the youth and exposing racism in the criminal justice system.
Lily, Davy, and Carla exhibit traits I wish I could obtain; they refuse to fit into a mold that society wishes to impose upon them. I rarely hear peers as articulate as Marshall, Karl, and LeRoy; I’ll be waiting to see them on television running for office. Zilong– this kid asks the deepest questions I have ever heard! JWalk, I appreciate the late-night conversations we shared. Alicia, they coming!
I thank Tania, Raj, Meghna and Esther for making me feel comfortable right away. Baha, Will, and Jason can make anybody laugh and it was much needed on this very emotional trip. Jayanni and Tariq can always be counted on to voice their opinions and produce interesting dialogue. I was happy to see amazing talent in the arts whether it was May and her slam poetry or Jaja and his fluid freestyles.
It was also inspiring to see some of us who have already achieved so much academic success such as Kaitlyn and her acceptance into law school. There were also those I got to know later on in the trip such as JoyEllen and Samantha, bringing their own unique viewpoints and encouraging conversation on a wide assortment of issues. Diana and Stephanie were extremely easy to relate to and were great to interact with.
One of the most real and caring people I have ever met has been Lu-Anne. Talking to her on the bus and seeing her remain humble and genuine has really been a great highlight of the trip. I will put $5 down that we’ll see her on a musical stage someday. Now my main peeps: Lauren and Sara. It has truly been an amazing ride and far surpassed all expectations, and it is all because of their hard work.
One last thanks to everybody involved with the trip, I cannot express my gratitude enough!