Resonates in my heart by Jami

Last week we gathered in a big room filled with empty chairs facing a long table with
a projector behind it. We were about to participate in a “conference panel” discussion
with communication studies scholars and faculty to talk about our experience. We had
prepared with a few questions but it was kind of happening on a whim. As I walked in
the room, my anxiety level rose and I wasn’t sure why. All I had to do was talk about
my experience to the very few people who had filled some of the many chairs in front
of us, what’s the worst that could happen? The small audience began to settle in as our
panel discussion was about to begin and Aaron approached the computer at the front
of the room. I had no idea why he needed a computer; I thought we were just talking
the old fashioned way but next thing I knew, the video that we had watched the first
day of class began playing on the screen. A tidal wave of emotions hit me like a pound
of bricks as the music began to play and the images moved slowly across the screen. All
of the emotions that I had felt throughout the semester all came rushing back and I was
completely caught off guard.

The second half of the film, Aaron had added in pictures of our class from our trip and
the memories, the smiles, the experience, all came rushing back to me. It was as if I had
forgotten all the feelings I had once felt amidst all the chaos surrounding the end of the
semester and graduation day approaching. I’ve been so lost in the hustle and bustle of
life. Seeing this video again was a much needed reminder. As the video ended and we all
started taking our seats at the long table in front of the room, I tried to compose myself
but that tight feeling in my throat holding back tears wouldn’t go away. I tried shaking it
off, I tried composing myself but as it came time for my turn to speak, I literally couldn’t
get the words out. I spit out a jumbled sentence as my voice was shaking and tears
started welling up in my eyes. I wanted to convey my thoughts and my experience so
badly but the emotions were too strong, I was unprepared to feel them at that moment,
and I had no way of pulling myself together.

After the panel discussion, I have been anxiously awaiting Koor’s arrival to JMU this
weekend. I feel so honored that he is now someone that we call a friend and someone
that we have the opportunity to spend time with. Some might wonder if it is possible for
a bond to be created between people from different continents of the world, between
people who have lived entirely different lives? In my final semester at James Madison
University, I find my life is intersecting with refugees like Koor from South Sudan. I
think back to that simple “click” that allowed me to add a random elective class to my
schedule has changed my life. That “click” brought my classmates and me together
with the Lost Boys of Sudan and in the process discover a passion that none of us ever
expected.

Meeting with Koor and other Lost Boys of Sudan, hearing their stories in their words, in their voice is something you can’t prepare for. On our trip, Koor said something to us that still to this day resonates within my heart. He told us that we are the ones in control of our lives, and we have control of what we do every day when we wake up. I am so excited that Koor, my classmates, and I will be able to share some of these experiences with the JMU community and that, if only in a small way, they too can come to know this truly remarkable man.

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