Each time students participate in international conferences, friendships are made that they hope to last a lifetime. However, the distance between their homes often creates a challenge.

For example, in the fall I participated in the International Emerging Leaders Conference at Collegiate where I created friendships with students from all over the world. At the end of the week, the heartache set in as I said my goodbyes, and I hoped to cross paths with all of the delegates again. A couple of weeks after the conference, the group messages slowed down and it was only on certain occasions when I would reconnect with the students I once felt so close to. However, when I found out that I was able to participate in the International Emerging Leaders: Americas conference, I knew I would once again be able to connect with some of these students.

My first experience with this was when I found out my host for the nights in Querétaro. I was lucky enough to get to stay with Paola who stayed with my family when she came to Richmond in 8th grade. The next experience was on the first day in Mexico when I was able to meet up with three students from the Carol Baur School who came to Collegiate for IELC this fall. We had the chance to catch up on each other’s lives and remember the fun times we shared in Richmond. I also met delegates from Italy and South Africa who were close friends with members of my small group from IELC. We bonded over the shared friendships, and I got to reconnect with the students I befriended in the fall.

As the other students from Collegiate and I can agree, our experiences in Mexico are ones that we will never forget. But in addition to cultural emersion and international affairs, I realized that goodbyes are hardly ever final. With the global focus that Collegiate shares with so many partner schools, it is not uncommon to reconnect the friendships that were once made. There have been countless stories of Collegiate Alumni meeting up with international friends later on in life, and I hope to have many more experiences similar to my trip to Mexico. – Annie R.