The end of the school year was a blur. I graduated, bid farewell to the people and places that have made State College home for me for the past 4 years, and shipped off to Europe with my best friend / previous vice president of SfW Tessa Sontheimer for ten days of adventure. As we hopped from cafe to cafe in Paris, we had the intentions of sitting down and reflecting about our time leading SfW together, but it never really happened. I think this was a product of our head spaces at the time; we were tired of being ‘work’ colleagues and ready to be two young women romping around Paris, talking about men, going out to bars, etc… and we totally lived that up. It was great. But it didn’t fufill my need for reflection on the year with SfW.
It wasn’t until I got off the phone with sophomore SfW member Nina Trach the other day that I felt like my year with SfW had truly come full cirlce. We had the most refreshing conversation, the kind that transpires when you’ve had a deep shared experience with someone. She had just gotten back from a month of volunteering at Hekima Place in Kenya, an organization I’ve been a part of for five years and just introduced to SfW / SHC this year. Nina, Divya Jain, Belle Biase, and three other Penn State women traveled to Kenya to further our international service partnership with them, and they layed some pretty incredible groundwork for future endeavors. We laughed over the funny quirks of some of the girls, the beauty of the Ngong Hills, and the frustrations of being an American female in East Africa. I found myself flashing back to when I brought Jenny Roach, the Kenyan director of Hekima Place, to speak to SfW this fall and I couldn’t believe that here we were, 8 months later, with five other Penn Staters having experienced the magic that is Hekima. But, that’s life, and that is change making in progress. I’m so proud of Nina, Diya, and Belle, and frankly I’m proud of myself too.
My hope for SfW in its second year is that more deep, genuine human connections continue to occur - over coffee, in C9, when talking to a rad alumni - you don’t have to travel to Kenya and back to make awesome connections and lifelong girlfriends. Cheers to you all, happy summer!