Today was the last day of ConnecTech. We woke up in the morning, and had the usual jam-packed day of events, ranging from purely educational with an IBM visit, to incredibly fun and social with an Escape the Room challenge. By far the most memorable though, were the final goodbyes.
Americans and Israelis alike were sad to part ways with one another. I know that personally I made close connections with many of the Israelis over these past few days, only to feel like I was leaving so suddenly. Even with respect to the other MIT students on the trip, we became very close over ConnecTech and I know I won’t see most of them for the next three months at least, since we are all parting ways for summer programs/internships. I was genuinely saddened to be saying goodbye to everyone at the closing remarks of the trip until one of the Israeli students reminded me of something that really turned it all around.
When I started saying goodbye, he seemed confused and said “Its not the end! We’re only halfway through!” And in my mind that changed everything. This was no longer the last day of ConnecTech, rather, it was only just getting started. Knowing that this program has a whole additional half to it, and knowing that we’ll be back together again in a completely different environment, but with the same group of people is a really great feeling. I was so used to trips like Birthright, or Israel Uncovered, or even MISTI, where you meet up with a group of relative strangers, and you have this super intense great experience together, and become close, only to lose it all in a flash. But to know that after this trip, not only with this connection still be there through Facebook, or through Skype or something like that, but that we’re actually going to be able to meet up again as friends, and to be able to return the favor to host them on our campus is really exciting.
It actually just so happened that I ran into one of the Israelis from my Birthright trip on this flight back to NY from Israel, and it was truly great to see them. At the same time though, I know that despite our experiences together in the past, we didn’t really have a close connection, and that just as I hadn’t seen her for the past 2+ years, I likely wouldn’t in the future. On this ConnecTech trip though, I actually feel like we are able to make a connection that is both serious, and lasting.