By Karla Perez
Around September of last year, Ms. Mezawi announced an upcoming EF Explore America field trip that would take place in March at our school. Although it would be expensive, many students were ecstatic to participate and did not hesitate to ask their parents to pour their all—time, energy, and especially money—into it so they could attend.
And indeed, 45 students and four chaperones ended up meeting at 4 in the morning on March 17 at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, to begin their journey. They all bid their goodbyes and gave their last hugs to their family members and embarked on the odyssey that would change their lives forever—although none of them knew that yet.
It wasn’t until around 12 a.m. that everyone disembarked the plane and eagerly dragged their luggage to the outside of the airport, where Boston laid in all its glory. To say that Boston and Miami were practically complete opposites is an understatement. When you think of Miami, you’re reminded of its jovial atmosphere, its cultural variety, its modern, tropical and welcoming surroundings; when you think of Boston, you’re reminded of its rather saturnine, historically-inclined and traditional environment, of its chilly weather, of its tall and old-fashioned architecture.
As everyone enjoyed the beautiful scenery of Boston despite the cold, they met up with Suzanne Young, the EF Explore America tour guide, and thus the adventure commenced. That first day, students got to wander around MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), where they got the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to talk to five students from the college—all which had some sort of relation to Florida (2 of them being MLEC alumni themselves).
“The fact that we got to talk to students—I feel like that was really special. We got an advantage over other people who go on tours—they usually get a tour done by a professional tour guide—so I really liked how we were able to get most of ours done by actual students,” said junior, Chika Ojukwu.
When day 1 was done, the bus driver, Louise, who became our friend and even DJ later on, drove us to our hotel. Some students gathered excitedly with their roommates—who they already knew—but others were a bit shy and hesitant to talk to new people at first.
The hesitance and discomfort only lasted a while, though; all students and even the chaperones (Ms. McDonald, Ms. Mezawi, Mr. Puentes, and Ms. Whitby) soon became inseparable or immediate best friends by the end of the first day, so the trip became even more fun than expected.
“At first, I was scared that I wouldn’t like my roommates, and that I’d be miserable the entire trip, [but then] I met them. We all clicked instantly and developed friendships that could last a lifetime,” said junior, Nicole Hernandez.
‘When my roommates told the teachers to sing me ‘Happy Birthday’ (about three days into the trip), I was so amazed at how people I’ve known for such a short period of time could be better friends to me than people I’ve known for years… [My new friends and I] made our trip even more enjoyable for each other, and I’m really glad I met them.”
The day that followed, students got to hang around Boston University, the Museum of Science, Faneuil Hall, and, of course, the beloved and anticipated Harvard University.
After that, they visited Northeastern University, Boston College, Providence College, Brown University and Yale University throughout the next two days. It wasn’t until March 21st that the moment everyone was waiting for arrived–the day we would wake up in New York City.
As we transitioned from New Jersey (where our hotel was) to New York, the city looked colossal yet constricted, elegant yet noisy. And to their luck, it started raining, but it was mesmerizing nonetheless.
As soon as they arrived, they commenced their day, going from NYU (New York University) to the subway to Central Park to Times Square and, lastly, to the Majestic Theater, where they went to watch the famous Broadway show the Phantom of the Opera.
“My favorite moment from the trip was going to Broadway because going there is a once in a lifetime experience that not that many people get to experience. I was blessed to be able to be there,” said sophomore, Mya Young.
The last day of the trip was a hectic one. Everyone had to be up and ready by 8:15 a.m. despite having come back from the Broadway show at 1 a.m. From there they went on a tour at Sarah Lawrence College, and then did a quick trip to Columbia University–all while rushing so they wouldn’t be late to the airport. By the time they got there, some were already getting teary at the thought of having to leave; some even joked that they would sneak into a New York to Boston plane, instead.
After over five hours of traveling, they landed in Fort Lauderdale and most kids met with their parents for the first time in nearly a week. Others complained in the sacred GroupMe group chat that they already wanted to go back again and that they could not wait to see if they have a trip like this again.
“Miami isn’t anything compared to what we just lived,” commented junior, Matthew Bruges. “I hope that one day we can all go back. Thank you so much Ms. Mezawi, Whitby, McDonald, and Puentes for making this amazing opportunity possible. At this point, you could take me on a trip to South Sudan and I would be confident that it would be a breezy vacation.”
To say the least, they gained more from the tour than they had expected. Many agreed to go thinking that they were going there strictly to learn about colleges and find what they were looking for in a university or something of the sort, but they all earned much more than that. They earned a new set of, as Ms. Mezawi puts it, 44 best friends. They learned about four different locations with completely different characteristics to their home that they would have never imagined they would like. They learned about some top colleges in the United States that many of them could have chances of getting into. But most importantly, many of them discovered new things about ourselves that they did not know before they left Miami.
They all found peace and, as one of the students that attended, Daviela Candelario, says, a datsuzoku, or “an escape from our everyday routine.” They all found amazing new friends and connections that will accompany, guide, mentor and aid them in the future. Some even found a little bit of love they didn’t know was there. They all shared a beautiful moment in their lives with one another, and the outcome was just splendid.
Source:: The Harbinger