Sunshine state of mind: ‘if it scares you, do it’


Stephanie Hempel, Columnist

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  • Wayne State students are currently studying abroad in Greece. Students on the trip are:Matthew Henery, Gavin Friedrich, Brett Quick, Savannah Kahle, Emmalee Scheibe, Mikala Rose Farrier, Demetris Bumgardner, Mariah Kay Leasure, Lily Kathryn Roberts, Hannah Coy, Emily Leeper, Joe Pfanstiel, Bethann Gartrell, Jordan Backer, Kim Dethlefs, Ryan Campbell, Anna Knezevic, Blake Heppner, Madeline Maul, Riley Lang, Allie Renee Vogt, Molly Burmester, Alyx Beckmann

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Before I took off on the plane to Greece I was handed a note that said “if it scares you, do it” written in artistically cultured penmanship by my friend Morgan Bentley. As an alumni of the Greece program, she honored me with advice and wisdom to help make my trip the most it could possibly be.

Unfortunately, due to various circumstances our trip was changed from the traditional program. While we have studied and seen most of the same things as the previous groups, our trip leaders were changed, and the entire program itself was altered to meet the adjustments.

Even though I never had the opportunity to travel with them, I can tell just by being here that Gerry and Kathy Conway laid the ground work for an incredible program.

Not a day goes by that the locals don’t ask questions about his progress, or tell us stories about memories they had with the couple with honey-stuck smiles draped across their faces. It is love. It is nothing but love.

We have collected photographs to share for the paper to demonstrate just how much this experience truly means to us all, and what the Conway’s hard work from the past years has provided for us today.

There are similar programs all over the United States, but every day I wake up next to the mountains and endless sea I remember that we are from Wayne, Nebraska.

Today I met a man selling jewelry on the sidewalk downtown. After trudging through the basic introductions (where we are from, why we are here, the geographical location of Nebraska) he told us he’d like to visit our home because he’s always wanted to be a cowboy.

He painted our small town like a black and white Western film, all stereotypes included. He plastered us with questions about agriculture, country music and cowboy boots. The one thing that stuck out the most though, was the way his eyes lit up when we said we were from the United States. He responded very quickly with “Ah, the gateway to everything. You have it all there. You are so lucky.”

We were having a conversation about how wonderful the United States is while standing in Volos, Greece a few streets away from the sea walk, where an endless array of mystery and wonder lies in the view of the natural collision of the sea and sky. He said we had “it all” and was so ready to hop on a plane to Nebraska, or any other state he could find.

I told him that if he took my ticket home I’d sell his jewelry on the streets forever. The grass isn’t really so green anywhere you go, some places don’t even have grass to ponder but you’d never know that unless you stood ankle deep in the sand of a beach covered in broken beer bottles, swimming in a littered sea and still saw it as the most beautiful place you’ve ever been in your entire life.

These are things people don’t take into account when there is just one more pair of twine earrings to sell, or when a date on the calendar becomes a ticket and suitcase in hand.

I’ve climbed, I’ve seen, I’ve tasted, I’ve endlessly listened, I’ve danced, I traveled to Greece with two lovely guides who weren’t exactly sure what this land really was, or what to expect from twenty-four students mixed of different backgrounds, ideals, majors, influences on the world but if it scares you, do it, and we will, we are, we have.