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A Journey Taken

April 20, 2018

A Journey Taken

Tbirds Field Study in Lima

T-birds gather together in Lima as part of the OMGM program. Courtesy of Aaron White

A couple of weeks ago a handful of OMGM’s embarked on a journey. One group went off to Lima and the other to Singapore. Unbeknownst to all of us, while our destinations were different, we were all going on the same trip, following the same path, which led to the same place.

My journey started out where most of my adventures start — at an airport bar with a delicious pint filled with a rich, velvety, malty beverage. Soon the boarding announcement echoed through the terminal. I paid my bill, gathered my things, and made my way to the gate. With passport in hand, the butterflies started to build and questions swirled around in my head like a tornado. Who were all these folks joining me on this trip? Were they going to be cool? What would they think of me? Sure, I knew many of these people by name from countless hours behind a computer screen, but how would we measure up when unveiled?

I boarded the plane, found my seat, stored my carry-on, and several movies later I landed at Changi Airport in Singapore. The first Sunday evening of the trip arrived — time for the opening dinner. Sitting around our tables, we engaged each other, sizing each person up and figuring out who we each were. Sunday night blurred into Monday, which in turn bled into Tuesday, and so it went, each day learning and growing together. The week flew by in a crazy mix of classroom presentations, meetings, group projects, and networking events. However, at the same time the week seemed to fly by it also seemed to be endless. At the closing dinner the following Saturday evening, we talked about the adventures we had and the ones we were going to take, took pictures to encapsulate the moment, hugged, and bid each other adieu.

T-birds part of the OMGM program traveled together to Singapore. Courtesy of Aaron White

On a personal level, something special happened that week, it seemed to be more than just a trip, and I was curious to see if others had the same experience, so I reached out to both groups to find out. Iryna McCain (Lima, OMGM ‘18) quickly responded, “I was really glad to connect with my classmates since we do not really see each other on daily basis and live all over the world… The experience we get from meeting alumni and companies in foreign countries is inspiring… These field seminars are a great way to meet your class and to establish life-long connections.”

This was quickly followed by a response from Johnathan Emkes (Singapore, OMGM ‘18) who wrote, “We’re all in the same boat working our butts off balancing work, family, and school — it was fun to have a week to build relationships in a killer environment… The opportunity the trips provide to meet, interact with, and explore cities [around the world] with fellow T-birds is a one-of-a-kind experience.”

As each response rolled in, as we each reflected on our personal experiences from our trips, we all had a tinge of disbelief that was summed up perfectly by Tiffany Wellton (Singapore, OMGM ’18) who explained, “As I departed for Singapore, I don’t believe I was quite prepared for the bond I would immediately have with our group.”

She was right. We weren’t just on some trip. We were on a journey where we saw each other for what we were — misfits. And that forged simple online interactions into friendships. While every story had its own twist and special flavor, they all undoubtedly shared the same quality that can only be described with two words: Thunderbird Mystique.

Article written by Thunderbird Student Aaron White. Originally published in Das Tor, Thunderbird's student newspaper.

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