Amira has been passionate about becoming a sports medic since childhood. Read about her travel to the National Student Leadership Conference in Washington DC and her difficult parting from her family below.
When my family got to the bus at Port Authority, I felt tranquil. It was as if we were going on a family vacation to Washington DC. Halfway there, none of my feelings had changed. I felt neutral and the long bus ride made me extremely soporific. However, these emotions changed when we got to our rest stop in Silver Springs, Maryland because I knew that we were about thirty or so minutes away from Washington DC. I was going to participate in something that would guide me in my career, and possibly be one of the greatest experiences of my life. Why did that scare me?
The answer—family. I was worried about leaving my family; rather, my family leaving me. I had been in several situations before where I had to go places overnight without my parents, but this was different. All those other times, I was with people that I knew. Whether it was my teachers or friends who had accompanied me, I had felt safe. We finally arrived in DC, hailed a taxi and drove the twenty minutes to the American University campus. It was a silent ride. I didn’t know what to say or how to hide my feelings other than by keeping quiet. My mother occasionally asked me what was wrong and I replied with “nothing”, but she knew exactly what I was feeling.
When we pulled up to the campus, I took a deep breath and tried to relax, but that did not work. When I walked up to the registration table, I could feel my tension rising to the point that I looked like I did not want to be there. I talked gingerly, I shook hands hesitantly and I thought to myself, “you could still turn around and go home”.
It was painful saying goodbye to my parents. I did not want to. I wanted them to stay with me. For about an hour of unpacking, it almost felt as if they were going to stay. Too soon, it was time for them to leave. I could never have fathomed how I would feel or behave in this scenario. I gave them all hugs, and told them I loved them. They wanted more but I was unable to give more without breaking down. How did I handle this? It was very difficult for me, but I forced myself to say goodbye.
I’m here at NLSC now, on my own. I walked up to someone on the way to lunch and talked to him. He was not as nervous as I was, even though he came from overseas. He made me feel comfortable, and we hung out for the rest of the day. That same day, I made more friends. And I felt like I was at Port Authority on my way to my home. I felt at peace, safe and most importantly, at home.