We all have memories that we look back on fondly. These moments come quickly, and we often don’t realize they were “the good times” until they’ve long passed. However, if we’re lucky, we find ourselves in a situation that forces us to take a step back and realize that the good times are in the present. I have been lucky enough to experience the JSB Program two times; once as a student, and once as a teaching assistant. The sights I’ve seen and the knowledge I’ve gained are things that I will always cherish, but my favorite part has by far been the relationships that I’ve formed along the way. This program forces you to step outside of your comfort zone, but not like you would during a syllabus week icebreaker activity in undergrad. Here, you’re given the opportunity to ask the hard questions, to build relationships with 20 other people on a level you never thought possible, and to find out more about yourself than you ever thought you needed to know. I would be lying if I said every day was easy, and honestly, I’d be lying if I said every day was fun- but that’s where the personal growth happens. These relationships form on spontaneous weekend trips to places you didn’t know even existed, where the excitement of new experiences turns into a breeding ground for intentional conversations and strengthening friendships.
While I can’t believe that our time in Italy is coming to a close, I know that in 2 weeks, 10 months, or even 20 years I will look back on this experience with the same fondness that I do right now. I also know that “The Good Times” are far from over, because the bonds formed on this trip will not be easily broken, and the experiences we have had will shape all of the good times to come.
So in conclusion, to my Summer ‘18 Chigi Babies: I could not be more thankful for every one of you. I am confident that each of us were hand-picked to be here this summer for a reason. I’ve had the privilege of watching all of you grow and learn over the last 12 weeks, and I can confidently say that you’ve made this one of the best experiences of my life. I am better because of each of you, and I hope that you always look back on your summer in Italy as one of the best times.