Hello, I’m Leah G. Alfonso. I write so that I may speak.
I spent last January taking part in an off-campus program called the New England Saints. During this trip, I along with over twenty other students traveled to Massachusetts to study American history and the authors of American history such as Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Frederick Douglass, etc. I wasn’t planning to write a travel diary about our experiences, and–as tempting as it is to go into so much detail about our adventures–I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon. And that’s for three reasons.
First of all, I don’t exactly have a lot of experience in writing travel diaries…actually, strike that. I have no experience in writing travel diaries. I realize that most writers would try something new and strive to be better, and if this were the only reason I would’ve brushed it aside and had a blog about my travels written and put up almost as soon as we came home. But it’s not.
Secondly, there’s just so much I could write about. I could write about the days we went sightseeing in Boston. I could write about the day we went to the Harvard Science Museum to see the glass flowers exhibit (yeah, we went to Harvard. No big deal.) I could write about the night we spent at Plimoth Plantation where we got a taste of what it would’ve been like to be one of the pilgrims in the early 1620s living in the New World. I could write about the night where I watched Cabin in the Woods with friends and felt proud of myself for only screaming once…hey, in my defense, there was a clown in that movie. I could write about the day we went to a Universalist Unitarian church and the discussion that followed. I could write about a revelation that I had when I was alone in Quincy Market that changed my perspective of America. I could write about the evening where we reenacted one of Louisa May Alcott’s plays and couldn’t stop laughing about it a week later. I could write about every tour we went on of the places where authors lived and did their work, the best being the Old Manse and the House of Seven Gables—seriously, how cool would it be to live in a house that was structured like a maze? And the list just keeps going. It was such an amazing experience, and if I had the opportunity I would gladly do it all over again. In fact, my only regret was not spending more time with the other students I traveled with.
That brings me to my final reason: I’m not sure if I can fully comprehend what the trip really did to us. I didn’t feel that much different when I came back; if anything changed about me, it seemed more cognitive than anything else. My understanding of the world and of myself improved. In addition, our time in Massachusetts stayed in my mind in the weeks that followed. There hasn’t been a single morning where I wake up without wishing that we could all be back at North Bridge Inn. Not a single day goes by where I don’t think of the friends that I’ve made and the memories we share.
In the midst of missing the trip, however, it never occurred to me that I transformed too. Then I came across one of my other friends, and he said that something seemed different about me. I asked my roommate later if she thought I changed at all since I left for New England Saints, and she agreed with my other friend. Honestly, talking to both of them made me realize that I don’t know exactly what happened during that trip, and I really wish I did. How can I write about something like the New England Saints trip and do it justice? How can I explain it to someone who wasn’t there? How can I possibly tell people how the trip changed me when I’m still trying to understand it myself?
My fellow New Englanders, here’s my question for you: Do you think we’ve changed at all during the interim? And if we have, what do you think it was about New England Saints that changed us?
Until next time, this is Leah G. Alfonso saying “So long.”