**Before I start this post I first want to take a moment to express my deepest sympathies for those involved in last nights movie theater shooting in Lafayette. What sort of world are we leaving in where this can happen. I don’t know if you are a praying person or not but if you are are send some prayers to Louisiana. This one was a little too close to home. **
I’ve lived a very full 28 years so far so there are a lot of memories I could go back to. I think I will choose one that wasn’t just an event but a big part of who I was and how I became the person I am today. When I was in high school I joined a club called GPA. GPA stood for the Governor’s Program on Abstinence. Though this organization has since dissolved it was something I truly believed in and cherished. I was the public relations director for my high school club for two years. Being an officers meant that I got to go to all of the annual events and I had the opportunity to apply for one of the awards the club offered. When I was a senior I wrote and essay and interviewed for a Distinguished Service Award. This award was given to high school seniors who showed leadership promise and in turn was rewarded with a trip to Washington D.C. for training that would be used throughout the year. I never thought I would win let alone be able to travel with two close friends from my high school.
I spent 10 of the best days with a group of 50 or so students from all across Louisiana. We were surprised the week before with information that we were going to be able to go to New York for the first day of our trip. We rode for 36 hours on a bus and hopped off smelly and excited at Ground Zero. It was a truly moving experience. I can also say I ate an authentic street vendor hot dog, walked through Time Square and stood in front of Tiffany’s wishing I was Audrey Hepburn.
On the second day of our trip we travel to Washington D.C. on the 4th of July. We had such an amazing time celebrating at the National Mall listening to the O’Jays and Gloria Estefan. I’m pretty sure we had the longest Love Train out there. For the next week we took leadership classes and learned not only about how to lead others but to find in ourselves the confidence and strengths we each possessed to make our teams work. In the evening we traveled to the monuments and learned about our nation’s history.
The best thing about this trip was the friends that I made. I have several of them, that 10 years later, I still keep in contact with. One of the greatest friendships I gained was with Kelli. She sat quietly on the bus next to us for probably the first 2 hours of the trip until I brought up the musical Evangeline. For those of you not from Louisiana this is a wonderful play about Longfellow’s poem. We bonded over that moment and have been friends ever since. I am forever grateful for that conversation.
For all my fellow GPAers out there I hope this brings back some great memories for you too.