Wow, I can’t believe it is Friday evening at 7:30pm. Our Prague experience is rapidly coming to an end. We just finished dinner and now the group is heading back to the hostel for warm clothes and rain gear. The day started off warm as we have been experiencing until a significant thunderstorm rolled in around 2:30pm and it has been raining ever since. The temperature has also dropped about 30 degrees and it is quite chilly now. “Chilly” isn’t a word we ever thought we would be using after all the heat we have experienced. For Erin and myself, it has been a busy day with meetings, staffing our booth and my YMCA History presentation this afternoon. We are going to spend the evening at the main stage, rain or not!
The plan for tomorrow is as follows. We are getting up at 7:00am to pack and check the rooms one last time. Then breakfast at 8:15am and load the bus which will be picking us up at the hostel to drive to the airport. From there we will secure a space and wait for our various flights. Most of us are changing flights at Heathrow and then flying on to the US. Barring any weather or mechanical delays, we should arrive to our final destinations on time for pick up. For parents or friends picking up travelers, please check the flight status to ensure we are running on schedule.
On a personal note, it has been a delight to travel with this group. We have had our challenges with unexpected events but everyone rose to the occasion to ensure that the ultimate outcome was a positive one, and based on the laughter and chatter I was listening to at dinner, we have been successful. I think you can expect everyone to sleep quite late on Sunday morning as we are all exhausted from late nights and busy schedules, not to mention the six hour time difference but there will be plenty of stories and photos to share. I hope they really internalize this experience and think about their own legacy and role on the world based on what they have learned and been exposed to. They have been with 5,000 teens and young adults from 62 countries, all with a passion and desire to make a difference. With graduation just a short one or two years away, now is when they need to really start formulating how they are going to make their personal mark on this global world we live in. The opportunity to touch lives, to make a difference and find a career path that will bring meaning and purpose to their lives is the ultimate outcome. The opportunity to have felt the energy, commitment and excitement of the future that has been present all week at this youth festival should hopefully have a lasting impact on everyone. This is a group of wonderful young adults and both Erin and I are excited about their potential going forward.
I want to say thanks to my colleague and friend Erin Friedman who has put so much energy and planning into this experience. Her commitment to excellence and managing details is what has made this trip so successful. And as tired as I know she is, never is she without a smile or a positive outlook on things. Erin, you are the BEST!!! You make this experience for me a delight and I truly appreciate your support and friendship!
Thanks to Tammy Biggins who is our office administrative assistant. While Erin and I are off on our adventures, she is always there in the office keeping things moving and managing the many details that come up on a daily basis. Tammy, Erin and I really appreciate your effort!
Thanks to our spouses, Tim and Anne. You both keep the home front daily lives going in our respective homes while we are away. Neither of us could be away on the many trips we run without the continuous support from our families and it is always comforting to know that you are there waiting for us on our return home.
Thanks to the Springfield College International Center for helping to fund the trip and for sending along Sarah Heminger, the assistant director of the Center who has been a huge help to Erin and myself. Thanks for staying up to all hours and allowing your room to be a hangout for the students!
Thanks to Bill Allen, Trustee of the Elwell Fund which is a significant funding source of this trip. Bill, without your enthusiastic support of us and the financial funding, we would not be here.
Thanks to the various college departments who have helped us with logistics of being here. It is always nice to know that we can count on our college colleagues to come through. One notable department is MarCom who helps us in so many ways, including setting up the blog we have been posting to. Brian, you are always there for us.
Thanks to the families, friends, relatives and other people who have supported the students with this endeavor. Your emotional (as well as financial) support is what has provided each of them the confidence and opportunity to travel to a foreign country and have an experience with memories that will remain with them for the rest of their lives.
It has been a pleasure trying to keep everyone connected to the experience we have been having through this blog. WiFi connections have been exceedingly rare and difficult to find so I apologize for the delays at times but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.
With that I am going to sign off for the last time and try to find a connection. Thanks again to everyone for following the blog and for your supportive and caring notes to your loved ones.
ps: Jessica is fine and back with us after a good night sleep! She will be continuing her adventure exploring Europe with Nicole. Be safe and have the time of your life!