I remember the day I stepped on the bus for my first trip with SUNY Plattsburgh Upward Bound. I walked on with my cousin, but even after having the feeling of comfort being with her, I felt sick to my stomach. Passing all of the seats full of people I had never met before scared me to death. My cousin and I made plans to sit together on the bus because the trip to Washington D.C. can be excruciating if you are sitting next to someone you have never seen before.
Finally approaching the back of the bus, I began to feel worse and worse when coming to the realization that there were not any open double seats for my cousin and I to sit together. I think, at this point, I began to regret submitting my application to join the population of high school students that use this program to receive college preparation.
Things started to look up when one of the Tutor Counselors got on the bus and noticed the extreme discomfort and intimidated look in my eyes. He kindly moved his seat that way a double was open for us to sit in. I was shocked that someone would do this for a kid they never met, but I guess people can surprise you.
Making friends quickly was never my thing because I have the tendency to make awkward conversations, create tense environments and show my shy side when confronting others. On our way to Washington D.C., making friends seemed easy to me. The people were easy to talk to, quick with humor and overall friendly. With the attempt to pass some time, our two newly acquired friends thought it was a good idea to play games, listen to music, and get to know each other. All of these things were stuff that I did not feel comfortable doing with people that have not gotten to know me. The two girls that sat in front of us had enough enthusiasm for the entire bus population and somehow this encouraged me to join in on the fun.
While in the city, the comfort of having friends filled me. This was not something that I got to feel very often because my school did not have very many over-enthusiastic people to pull me out of my comfort zone. Shockingly, when it was time to head back home I felt as though my life was going to go back to normal-- a boring type of normal.
The trip back home was definitely inspiring. I remember the darkness that filled the bus, the cell phone lights that brighten up faces, and the snoring that made some feel sleepy. The radio was on and we hit that spot where the good stations began to play the powerful music that filled our hearts with motivation, love, and the need to dance. The soft soothing sound of a cappella escaped us as the entire bus sang the overplayed songs that escaped the buses best form of entertainment. After this night, the radio has never been the same to me.
When departing from the bus in Plattsburgh, I knew that my life had changed because of Upward Bound, but I didn’t understand how quite yet. Somehow and somewhere, I was able to open up to people and find ways to freely encourage myself to actively engage in conversations. Not only did this trip in the program change my life, but it encouraged me to expand my horizons and that is something I needed to do.
Thank you SUNY Plattsburgh Upward Bound!