30 YEARS AGO…TODAY.
By Jorge Manuel Zelaya Fajardo
June 29th, 2017
I remember June 29th, 1987 as vivid as it was yesterday. I was officially ending my AFS Exchange Student Program in USA. Here I was hugging my wonderful host family ( the Gebbia’s from Middletown , Maryland) and saying goodbye. I remember that I was sad because I was leaving them, not knowing if I will see them again. I threw myself on a windowed seat inside a greyhound bus in a parking lot in Baltimore with 46 more exchange students like myself. I had mixed feelings inside my heart: I was leaving my host family’s house in the US to go back to my home in Honduras. Little I knew what was about to begin that day.
From that Monday June 29th to the Wednesday July 8th, I experienced something simply incredible. I became a part of the AFS BUS TRIP #58 ROSTER. Sometimes I think that AFS had scientifically proven the Bus Trip Effect in an Exchange Student before going back home (which I can personally attest had in myself at least). A brief portrait of the situation at hand can be described like this: 46 Foreign Exchange Students ( 17-19 years old boys and girls) from Asia, Europe, Latin America and Australia were leaving the USA after their senior year in High School heading back to their home countries. Teenagers that were on a special vacation tour on the road ( 1.5 weeks in a chartered bus) from Baltimore to New York City, going through Pennsylvania and Connecticut in the East Coast of the United States. No homeworks, no money worries nor chores to be done, no teachers and no parents ( even though we had an outstanding adult chaperone). It seemed like a good summer vacation. But the BUS TRIP 58 ( THE BEST EVER!!) was not good, it was GREAT. In little more than a week we became so strongly bound to each other that it is almost unbelievable. We developed a tremendous sense of fraternity, an empathetic feeling of wellbeing to the point that the something happened that cannot be explain easily: We felt really sad to say goodbye after the BUS TRIP!!!! How can you possibly develop a tremendous friendship in only 2 weeks???
For me the answer to that question comes to two things: Intensity and authenticity. The friendship we developed in that BUS TRIPp has proven to be real for 30 years today. It is alive and kicking. It is obvious that we are not the typical best friends that have been present at the wedding, the birth of the kids or college graduations, but the time we spent together was so intense, pure and simple that made an impact in all of us, like being great buddies in another dimension in time and place. On the other hand it comes the authenticity part: We had shared and we still do ( I believe) a deep sense of caring less about what we are, we have, we achieved…and more about having real , real, real FUN. Pure and simple fun. Sincere and genuine good time!!! I think fun is the language of love in a real friendship. We didn’t have facebook, cellphones or emails to communicate back then , but we were global dudes. We started our own globalization in 1987!! We felt like we were roommates living in different continents. We had a hell of a time in that BUS TRIP!!!! . My whole experience as a Foreign Exchange Student was splendid, but the BUS TRIP was the best way to ended, no doubt.
Happy 30th Anniversary to : Keiko, Malin, Olivier, Naoko, Lucio, Sybille, Karen, Juan Carlos, Ursi, Artur, Nadine, Filaretos, Tessa, Xiaohong, Monica, Rachel, Carlo, Bianca, Anastacio, Kulya, Eduardo, Sabrina, Monica, Astrid, Monica, Jackie, Kristina, Alvaro, Ulrike, Eriko, Brigitte, Raman, Araceli, Sylvain, Ulrika, Enrico, Werner, Gabriela, Teresa, Isoline, Tiia, Christine, Jorge, Lisa, Sara, Maurice.
The only sad line in this special celebration is that our beloved Chaperone (an incredibly cool guy named Maurice Feldman passed away this year.). Even though there are some roster members with which I have lost contact since our last goodbye in CWPost University, New York City in 1987…I can assure you…that the ones with whom I interact nowadays…are simply awesome!!! I love you guys!!! Let’s get ready to see each other again!!! For a Special Edition of our BUS TRP..maybe??