by Marcus B. '23
As I was waving goodbye to my aunt and uncle, I hopped onto the bright red bus with oddly sticky seats, accompanied by my older brother, and a ton of strangers that, I was soon to discover, would be some outstanding friends.
On the bus ride I was admiring the deep blue crashing waves and the thick green jungle while feeling the incredibly humid air sticking to my skin. I started pondering the conflicts that could arise during the next four days of camp. Multiple questions popped into my head. Was I going to collaborate with any of the other kids? Would I understand any of the directions our leaders would give? Were there going to be decent bathrooms with warm showers? While these questions swirled through my brain I noticed we finally arrived at camp.
The bus dumped all twelve of us out at the bottom of a massive hill. We trudged up the gruesome slope and when we reached the top we dropped our heavy bags on a couple of splintery wooden benches. One of the four camp leaders started explaining something, “Zài zhè zhāng zhǐ…”. There was more to the sentence but that’s all I heard and I didn’t quite know what she was talking about. Having gone through Chinese A, B, and C I thought I would know a little bit more. (Sorry cai laoshi.) Our camp leader handed me a piece of paper with what I assumed to be the names of my fellow campers. I signed my name and the leader gave me that look. I guess I was supposed to print my name, legibly. I was getting kind of worried about everything that could go wrong.
As days passed, I was getting used to being different. Even though instructions were hard to follow, and I couldn’t read anything except for google translate and my own handwriting, I was connecting more with my peers. We would have fun, crack jokes, and laugh together. Eventually, I stopped worrying about everything that could go wrong, or all the mistakes I could make. I just let myself be open to whatever happened.
Being open to anything that could happen helped me connect well with my friends despite the fact that we didn’t speak the same language, and we lived on opposite ends of the earth. Being shy or a little receded isn’t technically a bad thing, but at the end of the day we all need to be a little more open to friends, family, teachers, and even strangers. Because then we can quickly meld better bonds with ourselves and others.