Sunday, December 30, 2012

2nd Annual NSLI-Y New Year's Eve

NSLI-Y is probably going to shoot me for saying this, but in the long-run, for most of the students, NSLI-Y isn't about learning the language. I'm ashamed to admit it, but I know that my Arabic skills have plummeted from where they were when I ended the program. I won't make excuses about it - but my Arabic right now is simply not fantastic.

There are two other big things that you gain from exchange programs - the cultural immersion and understanding, and the friendships. Oftentimes, I think that the friendships get overlooked. My NSLI-Y group consisted of fifteen high schoolers from across the United States - who happen to be some of the most amazing people that I know, and some of my closest friends.

It's strange now, because NSLI-Y was years ago for me. And while my language skills have faded, the friendships have not. Between Skype, Facebook, and intermittent reunions when we figure out a weekend and scrape together the money for bus tickets, we've kept in amazingly good touch for a group scattered from sea to shining sea.

A few days before we left Jordan, I remember sitting around in our apartment building, kind of daydreaming about how we'd spend New Year's Eve together once we were back in America. At the time, I didn't really think it would happen, but sure enough, I spent my last moments of 2011 and first moments of 2012 with my "Jordan habibtis."

Wonderfully enough, it's happening again this year! It's the last day of 2012, and I'll be spending the last hours, minutes, and seconds of the year with the same habibtis I started it with. It's changed from a "surprised-that-this-is-actually-happening" excited to a "warm-fuzzy-I-love-that-this-family-reunites-every-year-and-I-just-want-to-hug-everyone" excited, but a wonderful excited nonetheless.

Yo, habibtis, I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE YOU ALL! Those of you who can't be there, especially Sera, who is a hoss and on the year-long NSLI-Y trip to Morocco, I miss you. We'll be thinking of you guys as we ring in 2013 here in Chicago!

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