The Finalist Notification

Picture yourself on a bus, back from a Lacrosse game. You just whooped the opposing team 21-1. Spirits are high, and being a high school junior, there are a thousand different things running through your mind. From School, college, or girls, your mind is very preoccupied.

After goofing around with your teammates, you casually check your phone and see you have two new emails. Without even reading their headlines, you carelessly open the first one. Still talking with friends you look down and see: “Don’t Miss your chance, Joe! Study now at -” and stop reading it, realising it is one of many bothersome random college emails. Thinking nothing of it, you click on the next email without reading the subject line.

Up until this point on this particularly cold March 4th night, anyone could have had a similar night on that bus. Play great in the game, get on the bus and check your messages, and life goes on. That night, I was one of sixty five kids across the nation that got to open an email from the Department of State that allowed my life not to just go on, but take a drastically different route than many others.

Dear Joseph,

Congratulations on receiving a YES Abroad scholarship for Indonesia.

After reading this, and not reading the subject line beforehand, I was dumbfounded. I remember awkwardly  saying “Whaaaat?” aloud and reading on after, confirming that yes, it was real. I immediately screenshotted all of it on my phone, just in case I accidentally deleted it. Once the information had settled that yes, this is really happening, I wanted to scream and shout with exuberance. But, keep in mind that I was on the back of a moving bus full of macho men lacrosse players, so I did not think my giddish excitement would go over very well. Trying to contain it, I casually told my teammate Ben. Instead of sounding normal, it was the level of excitement suitable for a scream contained into a whisper, so I can imagine it was very funny looking. He congratulated me and encouraged me to call my parents. My family! My excitement took a whole new face because I can enjoy sharing it with my family.

I called my Dad, and he was with my Mom. They were at a Jason Isbell concert in Charlotte, North Carolina. Once I broke the news, their joy was palpable. They were both incredibly proud and happy for me, and wished they could be with me to celebrate. Honestly, I was glad they were at the concert so when I got home I could be as expressive with my joy as possible.

And that is exactly what I ended up doing. I hopped into my Chevy Colorado after the bus ride, drove home to the tunes of Alright and Keep it RealOnce home, I had the whole house to myself. I whipped up some snacks from the kitchen, and had an hour long solo dance party. This in my mind was the only logical thing to do, in hopes of burning all this energy I had. I was so happy, singing along and trying to dance. Thankfully, I wore myself out and started searching the internet, inhaling any information about Indonesia I could find.

At around midnight my parents came home from the concert. They were both beaming with joy as they hugged me and shared their excitement. Going to bed that night was hard, because It hit me that with this opportunity, I am going to have the experience of a lifetime.


This is me signing my letter of acceptance the next morning, still in disbelief this is happening
Signing my letter of acceptance the next morning, still in disbelief this is happening

With my love of music, I want to share one of the songs that I listened to while writing this post. When drafting this post, my favorite song was When They Fight They Fight by The Generationals