Growth & Goodbyes

Authored by:
Ashlyn Thomas

Ashlyn Thomas

As a Program Leader, I'm always amazed at how much students grow in their short time abroad. Over the last three weeks, I saw student positions challenged, changed, expanded upon, and defended in ways they never expected. Outside of class, I witnessed students let go of insecurities, embrace unlikely frienships, and develop new ambitions. Towards the end of the program, students had a chance to showcase this growth in group presentations. They applied the new skills and understandings they gained to a range of topics - from the definition of justice to colonial reparations to the representation of female heads of state in the media. Students made conclusions based on research and developed calls to action. When it came time for feedback, their professor, David, didn't hold back. However, his suggestions and challenges pushed the students to be even better thinkers, debators, presenters, and prolem solvers. 

Saying goodbye was tough. Our final day was full of celebration for each student's unique achievements. Asked to describe their experience in Amsterdam in six-word biographies, one group eloquently chose, "Tap On, Tap Off Global Navigators," referencing the group motto for everytime we got on and off the tram. At the farwell dinner, we reflected back on our favorite moments and the people we met along the way like our local tour guide extraordinaire, Jan or the strangers who shared their stories with us in the Humans of Amsterdam interview activity. Before we broke for the evening to finish up packing and catch the 3 A.M. airport shuttle, we had one final "shout-out" time. Shout-outs were our nightly ritual where we expressed gratitude and praise for the ways we saw each other go above and beyond as roommates, as colleagues, as peers, and as friends. Many spoke out about the impact others had on them in this experience and we ended the night in true Session Two fashion - with a big group hug.

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