It’s over, and I’m home. Delighted to be here on many levels – it was lovely being met at the airport by Abi and I’m seeing Rachel tonight, and it’s been joyous being with the cats, even if there was a bit of resentment from them when I arrived! But it’s such a wrench being away from my fellow Fellows – we’ve lived such an intense experience together over the past two months. So there’s a very bittersweet feeling going on.
The closing seminar week was lovely. Sunday was arrivals day and that fun bit of everyone meeting up again. Monday was writing our reports and in the evening we went to Ardrossan, the home of an EF supporter, whose family inspired the Philadelphia Story – how cool is that! Tuesday was show and tell of the artefacts and images we had been asked to bring back from our trip. Then we worked on our presentations – I was in a team with CV, Christian and Somkiat and we went for the low-fi option – 4 slides, a few findings and conclusions. Others were working on theirs for hours, but I think in the end it worked out, because we were able to generate quite a bit of debate among the group when we presented on Wednesday. Tuesday and Wednesday were also about working on the slideshow which Zuzanna and I did for the annual dinner on the Thursday, with a range of pictures gathered from the fellows. Tuesday night was fun – a dinner and reception just fellows and staff. After dinner Mark and I played a couple of songs, so the bass has had its first outing! Then after a few stories from the road, we all moved to the games room and played shuffleboard, babyfoot and pool. A lovely night just hanging out together.
Wednesday was the presentations and also a chance to hear from the Irish alumni about what they have done and stayed in contact. That was pretty inspirational – they had quite a role in keeping channels of communication open during the peace talks – but also quite unsettling- I had a feeling of “oh my, what have I got myself into, this is serious stuff!”. The Irish were immensely successful people, all at the top of their profession – I wonder where we will all be in 20 years?
Then we had the annual meeting on Thursday, which was like a graduation day. We left Villanova at 11.30 and went into Centre City, where we had lunch at EF House. I had bought a new dress at Donna Karan the evening before and changed after lunch. In terms of compliments per dollar, it was possibly the cheapest dress of my life!!! Then we went to this nice hotel, the Rittenhouse and had a seminar with Gen. Colin Powell, the EF Chairman, where we discussed our impressions from our trip. He asked about my new job and clearly found it quite amusing – even mentioned it when I had my photo taken with him at the end. After the seminar we had some time to ourselves, so I wandered in the park with Bori and Sonya – it was a lovely day. then a reception and dinner, during which the slideshow was shown and Sam made his speech as Chairman’s Fellow. The Irish accepted their award and Sen George Mitchell got the Eisenhower medal – he was hilarious! then all too soon, it was back on the bus back to Villanova. We hung out in the Games Room for a while, just saying goodbye. All got a bit emotional really. The next day was departure day and as I had one of the later flights, I had to see everyone off. I did go to the mall for an hour or so with Gil and Deema and had my nails done. Then it was 4.30 and time for my taxi. And then it was over. The flight was fine and I got met at the airport (useful with all my bags!). Went out with Abi and Rachel that night, which was lovely. But it’s a funny feeling to be back. I can’t remember where things are in my kitchen! I can’t deal with having such a large choice of clothes to wear! And I look round and think about packing this place up and my blood runs cold. Anyway, so many things to do now I’m back so I should get on with it.