By Katerina Gotsi, Greece
“Here comes the sun, and I say it’s alright”, sang the gray-haired man with his mellow voice while playing his guitar just across Harvard University. His song suddenly had so much meaning; it was the first sun we saw since our arrival in Boston the day before.
The heavy rain limited our movements out and about the city. It did not deprive us though of all the wonderful things the ITD had once more arranged for us. First stop, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum proved much more stimulating than I would expect. President Kennedy commenting on a video that “we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought” really hit home. After two immensely thought-provoking weeks in the US, discussing and exchanging ideas with American people coming from different disciplines and walks of life, as well as colleagues from literally across the globe, I had to challenge several of my earlier opinions; I suspect more are coming.
Boston itself looked huge, after two weeks in the greenery of the Amherst area. For most of the group, it was the first time we walked among so many skyscrapers blocking the skyline. Our peripheral view was also significantly limited by the white plastic ponchos we bought at the Quincy market to survive the rain; they actually made us look like a group of ghosts walking hurriedly around the city. Despite the weather, we so much enjoyed the amazing aerial views from the Clock Tower and the wonderful views of Boston from a distance during our boat ride to Charlestown. Different perspectives of a gloomy, rainy city, the same fun wherever we went.
The Quincy market, although particularly busy on a rainy Saturday afternoon, provided so many international cuisine options to choose from. Clam chowder, a traditional New England soup recipe (thank you so much Celso for the suggestion!), that we tried with Gunhild was really delicious – I wish I had gone for the larger portion.
On our way to Cambridge the next morning it was raining again; bad luck, we would really love to enjoy the tour around Harvard University. But, guess what, less than an hour before the tour, here comes the sun and it transforms everything. Ishika, the Harvard student who led the tour was amazing; young and fresh and friendly and witty and informative and relaxed – definitely the best ambassador of Harvard University.
When discussing our experiences from Boston and Cambridge later in the evening, lying on the comfortable sofas of the dorm, I recalled the singer just outside Harvard. Masha said that she also heard this man singing “I’ll Follow the Sun” and that she really enjoyed his performance. He must have been celebrating the sunshine as much as we did. Or, as Masha pointed out, he could be celebrating Paul McCartney’s birthday that very day – how she could ever know that, I still wonder. And this is how the Beatles and a street musician unexpectedly became part of this unique, highly enriching SUSI program experience.
As I write these lines, while at the same time packing my bags for New York, I can’t help singing and smiling – and thinking over and over again of the importance of following the sun, wherever you find it.
All opinions expressed by the program participants are their own and do not represent nor reflect official views from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, or of the Institute for Training and Development, Inc.