Returning to our wet, cold land on my 7 hour flight, I thought of all I’ve accomplished in a month. All I’ve experienced, learned, imbibed and felt in the past 29 days. As I reminisced in all the memories that I accidentally made, the trip elongated. It grew larger in length as I felt nostalgia already creeping in to everything that had happened in the split second of that month. As I was engrossed in this surreal world, it soared as fast as the plane I was seated in, but my experience and flight home never felt so long as it did in those moments full of reflection and understanding in all that had just happened. In that moment, it all felt like a lengthy, distant dream.
I landed, greeted by my family and everything proceeded as usual. Regardless that, oblivious to some that I was even gone and others outraged that a month had passed in the blink of an eye, I felt different. I felt like a new and updated version of myself. Walking around my familiar town streets again, I felt significant. As though people could tell I have grown internally and though it was written on my forehead.
I go back bearing knowledge and ideas. I hope to set up a mental health organisation in Longford so people in my home can get quick, cheap, real help, before a permanent damage comes upon our community. I hope to open it up next year some time and I really want to get The Attic Youth Cafe involved as much as possible. Also next year in Brussels, my group and I are underway with plans of a conference for young people interested in the EU. I hope to release more details of this conference in the future.
The experiences I have from BFTF are something that I can’t explain and so anger me that I cant give others a flavour of what I have been so privileged enough to get. The only way I can see someone else understanding, even slightly, what I have experienced, is by experiencing BFTF for themselves.
They told us we would love it. They told us we won’t forget it. They said we will make friends for life and learn things that we will carry with us on our sleeve till the day we die. We listened, but we didn’t understand until we took a step back and just saw all of what we had accomplished.
Again, I want to thank everyone who has made this possible for me. To Ron, Alessandra and Taylor for directing such an amazing programme, to the U.S Embassy in Dublin, in particular Sinead O’Donovan for keeping me up to date and sorting out my every problem, to Foroige for nominating me and letting me write this blog each week and to my host family, the Winters, for putting up with my European weird ways. To all the mentors who took me by surprise in your wiliness to deal with us and understand us on such a personal level that I and every single person from BFTF can consider you guys friends. That meant more than I can put into words.
Lastly, to all my newly made best friends, thanks for making this experience what it was and when people ask me what the best part of BFTF was, I always say my friends. We didn’t realise we were making memories. We just knew we were having fun, the most exhilarating and amazing fun you can have.
Not to be cliché, but being a BFTF Alumni literally changed my life. So thanks.
Thanks for reading!