"Arielle, I have a bone to pick with CIEE. They did not disclose how hard it would be to leave." -Libby
On our last night in Prague, we headed out to the Vltava River where we embarked on a two-hour private boat ride for a farewell celebration. We were greeted with welcome drinks, with which we toasted in the typical Czech fashion: na zdravi! The staff prepared for us a beautiful all-you-can-eat dinner buffet, which we enjoyed as the boat set sail. For dessert, we enjoyed a delicious raspberry cheesecake in celebration of Angie's 17th birthday!
Our final activity aboard the boat was my personal favorite: Paper Plate Awards. Earlier that week, each student pulled the name of a fellow participant out of a hat. Their job was to find some sort of superlative or award to present to that person. In secret, they decorated a paper plate and brought it to the boat. During the ceremony, each person publically presented their award to their secret recipient and made a short speech to justify why that person is so deserving. The awards were creative, genuine, personal, and affirming. Some made us laugh-out-loud, and some made us tear up. It was a testament to the depth of these friendships formed in just three weeks.
We were not ready to say goodbye to Prague or to one another, but the ticking of Prague's famous astronomical clock waits for no one. We boarded the plane the next day feeling so much fullness and so much loss all at the same time. My greatest hope is that these friendships and this place inspire us all to keep traveling. May we be fully aware of the heartbreak of leaving, and may we choose to go forth anyway.