This experience was simply AWESOME!! Coming to GROW this summer was the best decision I could make this year. It has been a memorable experience. Romania was lovely and Sibiu was amazing! I’m actually planning to bring my parents here so they can see too just how awesome it was for me. For me, the 2014 summer will forever remain the time I spent doing some serious self-discovery, risk taking and above all, fun.

muhammadThere were some challenges, but what’s life without some ups and downs? I feel that if you don’t challenge yourself, you can never learn about your weaknesses or strengths. The biggest challenge for me was in the beginning. Some of the teenagers were shy. But that’s where it stopped. Romanians are very friendly people. Although there was a small response from teenagers in the start, with in the next few sessions I saw them getting more and more friendly, open and sociable. By the end of the project, we were such good friends that each session lasted longer than usual because of overwhelming participation and fun.

The most important thing I learned was the fact that even if we all have different religion, beliefs, backgrounds and different values, we can all have a fantastic time together. I lived with people who were polar opposites of me in terms of culture and values. Yet, instead of facing confrontation and discrimination on the basis of our differences, we all lived together, accepted our differences and had fun. I made life-long friends in completely different parts of the world.

This experience actually forced me to reconsider and analyze my life’s choices. I now appreciate my own choices and for the first time ever, I felt like all my life I have been making the best choices I could. In fact, after this summer, I felt completely satisfied with the direction in which my life is heading.

Every day was a new fun filled moment. I only realized the extent of my love for my students and my new friends when it was time for me to say goodbye. At that point it hit me that I had made some of the strongest connections ever. I realized the beauty of friendship and that it represents something beyond borders, genders, cultures and values.

The most beautiful feeling and moment for me was the end of the program, when some of my Romanian friends gave me a goodbye present and they had tears in their eyes. At that moment, I was so happy I cannot even describe it and at the same time I had tears in my eyes. This bitter sweet memory will stay forever with me.

I would tell anyone to visit Romania and go to Peles. I would tell them to see the beauty of Old Sibiu. I would tell them to enjoy the charm of Hunedoara Castle. I would tell them to hike on the Balea Lac. But most of all, I would tell them to visit Romania and meet the people. The wonderful, charming, friendly and simply awesome people.