In the summer of 2015, an official-looking envelope arrived at my home with the signature of a famous American hero. The letter would later take me to an amazing gathering of young people from across the country and down some of the most famous cobblestone streets of history. What was in store was more than I could have imagined: events filled with exhilaration, newfound friendships, and a renewed sense of myself.
It was a warm, breezy afternoon of mindlessly tossing decorative college solicitations into a nearby trash can overbrimming with mail, when I spotted it.
“You have been nominated to attend the National Congress of Future Scientists in Boston, Massachusetts.”
-Buzz Aldrin, NASA Astronaut, Col. Retired.
BUZZ ALDRIN?! Are you kidding me? The famous astronaut who historically walked on the moon with Neil Armstrong? I thought, “Maybe I should open this one.” Breathlessly turning to my mom with the dangling, crisp letter still in my eager hand I squealed, “Can we go to Boston?”
Fast forward eight weeks later and I stood confidently in line at the bustling airport looking like a chic host of the travel channel. As I waited for my flight, the unique smells and aromas of airport cuisine filled my nostrils. From the warm baguettes with melted cheese, to the freshly popped popcorn being devoured by the little girl next me, my seating area seemed to be filled with aromatic delights. Meanwhile, I was loaded down with all the essentials: favorite Fiji water, sugar-free gum, and a clandestine, bottomless bag of Kit Kats. Seven hours later, entranced, I floated out onto the bustling, brightly lit streets of Boston, Massachusetts, ready to take on the world. Before me, I saw the pure, vibrant blueness of the Boston sky and smelled the salt in the air above the transparent waters.
However, after arriving at the sprawling Marriott, I quickly felt exhausted and the familiar sounds of the TV softly playing in the background and the hotel rhythm of opening and closing doors did not take long to lull me to sleep. The next morning, I arrived to the vast arena on a mission. The letter stated to come early to get a seat in one of the front rows, which turned out to be harder than studying for the ACT and just as competitive. My very long legs helped me out as I sprinted like Jesse Owens from the car, making my way through a sea of well-dressed students gathered outside the large, looming doors, which glistened in the early morning sunlight. Inside the arena, the chilled air greeted my body as my name tag swung to and fro and distracted me from the blurred sounds of thousands of honor students simultaneously chatting as they navigated their way past the bag check. I slid victoriously into the second row like a seasoned MLB player stealing home base and immediately introduced myself to complete strangers, who would in three days time become lifelong friends.
Finally, every moment of the next three days were busy and filled with experiences I will remember for the rest of my life. For example, I spent my days listening to esteemed speakers, took pictures with world renown Nobel Laureates, walked the actual streets that Paul Revere bravely rode his horse on, and photographed the historic Trinity Church where these famous words were spoken: “One if by land, two if by sea.”
In conclusion, this experience was significant not only because I was given an award for my academic achievements from a surprisingly witty American hero, but also because I grew as a person and learned so much from all the unforgettable people I met on my journey. I can truly say that my trip to the National Congress for Future Scientists changed my life. I learned that people my age can truly achieve things that lay he groundwork for future accomplishments. I also learned that it is important not to be afraid of new adventures and travelling beyond your own neighborhood and state.