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during the day, we leaders were full of smiles…

Leading 25 high school students throughout Ireland last summer was one of the most challenging and rewarding teaching jobs I’ve ever had. My co-leaders—a fun-loving, extremely skilled photographer and a smart, witty poet—and I barely slept for those two weeks. But we loved (almost) every minute engaging with these talented teenagers, teaching them what we know about writing and photography and helping them create and adventure their way through a new country.

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…but at night, we were pretty much zombies.

Every evening, our three groups came together for a big family meeting. One of our nightly traditions was writing down and sharing an “I remember” statement, encapsulating a memory from the day.

On our last night in Dublin, the students put on a reading and showing of their writing and photography at a venue in the city. They weren’t just teenagers that night but artists, artists with incredible stories and brilliant detail. What I’ll always remember most from that evening was how enthusiastically they clapped for one another, all evening long.

Below (interspersed with a few of my favorite photos from the trip) are some of the “I remembers” from our final meeting.

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The gang! Photo by Ross Weinberg
taking a selfie with world-renowned National Geographic photojournalist Chris Rainier
taking a selfie with renowned National Geographic photojournalist Chris Rainier

I remember hearing beautiful words and seeing striking photographs at tonight’s reading.

I remember feeling like a family when my group sang “Imagine” in a circle.

I remember having the most fun and loudest walk home ever.

I remember when I had afternoon tea with pastries stacked high on silver platters.

I remember the amazing feeling of finishing my pieces of writing this morning.

I remember the first day, when we stepped off the plane, like it was yesterday.

clouds upon clouds on Dublin's River Liffey
clouds upon clouds on Dublin’s River Liffey

I remember feeling at home surrounded by so many like and talented minds.

I remember bonding with Sydney and Katie over dinner, through nerdy pick-up lines, which was really great.

I remember being blown away by all the talent at our show.

I remember bittersweet: presenting a tiny piece of myself to you all here, who I’ve truly come to call friends, and at the same time knowing that, yes, I will be home tomorrow, but as for the temporary home I’ve built here in Ireland with the help of all of you lovely people, that will be sorely missed.

afternoon writing session
afternoon writing session

I remember being shocked seeing a fox roaming the streets of Dublin.

I remember visiting The Little Museum of Dublin. It was unlike any museum I’ve ever been to.

I remember having some hard times. I remember a lot of support. I remember feeling and receiving a lot of love. And I remember a rad Bruce Springsteen duet with Patrick.

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I remember eating multiple scones at afternoon tea.

I remember linking arms and laughing walking back here tonight.

I remember walking the streets of Dublin for the last time, watching all the places we visited pass by.

I remember feeling relieved after finally showing my photos.

I remember today being the best day  ever.

I remember everyone’s amazing writing and photography and making new friends and memories that I’ll never forget.

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