“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.”

– Tim Cahill

This summer I have traveled to three different states excluding West Virginia, my home nine months out of the year, Pennsylvania, my permanent residence with my family and New Jersey where my family and I go for day trips to the Jersey Shore!

My first trip was to Orland Park, Illinois. Orland Park was my home until I was 15 when my dad was offered a new position at work and my family was transferred to PA. The last week of June we loaded the van and drove across PA, through Ohio and Indiana to Illinois, a trip lasting a total of 12 hours. We were in Illinois for just about a week. Whenever we visit we stay with my mom’s parents, my Oma and Opa. Their house is smaller then ours so while the six of us are visiting it is a little cramped but I love staying at their house and miss being able to see them whenever I want. We also held a graduation party for my brothers at my dad’s parents house, my Grandma and Grandpa.

My brothers, sister and me before the boys graduation – June 2012

My dad is one of five and my mom is one of two. There are 12 grandkids, 4 of which are married, and 5 great-grandkids on my dad’s side. There are six grandkids on my mom’s side. As you can imagine our family parties are always big and very lively. I had previously seen most of my family members earlier this year at my cousin Mike’s wedding; but before that had not seen them in about two years. I had a great time visiting with everyone, sharing my most recent experiences, what I plan to do in the future and listening to their advice for as I move forward. The visit went by too fast. The biggest disappointment from the move, and I am staring to tear up as I write this, is that we are not able to see everyone as often. We stay in touch through phone calls and e-mails, but it is not the same as physically being there. Both sets of my grandparents and my dad’s sister and her husband have been out to visit us at least two times each. I enjoy having them here too because then we can show them how we adapted to life in PA and they can see first hand all that we share with them via phone or internet.

My second trip was to visit my friend Chrissy in Virginia just a few days after returning to PA from IL. Last summer my dad had enough frequent flyer miles for a one person round trip, so he offered it too me to fly down to see her. This time I drove myself, a trip lasting only four hours. Chrissy and I met the summer going into our freshman year at WVU. We both attended a week long camping trip through Adventure WV.

Chrissy & me at Blackwater Falls, WV – July 2010

I am not a huge camper but I would give anything to go back to that week if I had the opportunity. Our trip consisted of 20 freshman journalism majors exploring the natures of West Virginia. My freshman year would have been a completely different experience had I not went on this trip and met the people who for that first year I would call my best friends. Unfortunately, as time past we all became more distant but Chrissy and I are still best of friends and I grateful for having her in my life! But I digress. I had a short 5 day visit in VA. We ventured into Washington DC braving the 110 degree weather, spent a day and night at her Lake house visiting with her grandparents from out of state and hung out with her friends who I have come to call my friends as well! I was so glad I got the opportunity to visit again. It was a last minute trip and because of commitments with my internship could not last longer, however I wish it could have! I plan to visit again, that is if she’ll have me!

Chrissy and me at the ESPN College Game day football game WVU vs. LSU – Sept 2011

My third trip was to Atlanta, GA for the Golden Key International Summit! I was in Atlanta for only a weekend but accomplished a lot! The summit was held on the Georgia Tech Campus. Being the only delegate from WVU to attend I was placed in a room with girls from Ohio. I later realized I was placed in their room because WV, OH and KY make up the fourth region of GK. At first I was nervous and felt very alone because I did not know anyone or where I was. Throughout the weekend I met many people from my region and beyond, and became more comfortable navigating the campus. The delegates attended workshops to learn how to better your chapter and how to brand Golden Key on your campus, as well as personal/professional development. After the workshops we had an open day to explore Atlanta. A group of about 15 of us took the GATech Trolley to the MARTA to Underground Atlanta.

Region 4 at dinner in Underground Atlanta – July 2012

It was a cute street, literally underground, of shops and vendors. We enjoyed dinner at a Jamaican restaurant then headed back to campus. The next morning we took part in a Project Live Love community service event, helping in a garden built by and for refugees living in Clarkston, GA. The last night of the summit included a dinner and motivational speech at the Georgia Aquarium. I am so glad I attended the summit. Last year our chapter did not have much involvement, which I found to be true for most of the chapters present this past weekend. After all that I learned about Golden Key and what other chapters are doing to create more involvement I have plenty ideas to kick start a great year at WVU. I can only hope that the other officers are on board, if not we will have to compromise and or put our heads together to think what will work best on our campus! There is a regional summit coming up in February 2013. I am more then excited to attend, to see all my new GK friends and to discuss how the International Summit helped flourish their chapter as well!

Delegates from regions 1, 3, 4 & myself place a GK created sign into the refugee garden

xoxo

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