Being a third-year student in the Pioneer Leadership Program is often totally different than your first two years in the program. First off, PLP classes are over. Unless you decide to take capstone as a third-year, you are likely no longer in class with all of your PLP friends. And second, you are probably studying abroad in the fall!
We all get the chance to bond as first years through living on “The Floor.” We continue to strengthen those bonds throughout the second year in PLP through the thrill that is the Community Change Initiative. These experiences – among others – are part of what create the family we are fortunate enough to be part of thanks to our involvement with PLP. What I wasn’t expecting to experience, even in the most estranged year of PLP, with no classes, and no one from the program with me in Madrid, was having the opportunity to bond with Linda, Paul, Mimi, and Lauren in SPAIN while they attended the International Leadership Association Conference.
Meeting these four in Barcelona was obviously a different kind of bonding than the shenanigans on “The Floor,” or the hot-mess and stress of CCI projects. But it was still the PLP family, proving that it is always there, even when you least expect it. I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into when I landed in Barcelona. Paul had sent a simple but sincere invitation to all PLPers studying abroad in Europe who might easily be able to travel to Barcelona to meet them. It then took a little more convincing from Mimi – hey, traveling abroad can get expensive; you have to choose your weekend trips wisely! Ultimately, I decided to go and am so thankful that I did.
Hanging out with Linda, Paul, Mimi, and Lauren in Barcelona reminded me of how amazing it is to be in PLP. I wasn’t just meeting up with PLP faculty and staff, I was meeting up with friends. Our weekend reunion in Catalonia reminded me what the PLP family is all about: somehow, even 5,205 miles from away Denver, it’s still there. It was an opportunity to experience a little slice of home while simultaneously exploring a brand new place with four people I never thought I would share such an experience with – especially halfway across the world!
Study abroad as a whole is a lot like this. Everyone is building relationships and sharing experiences unlike their normal everyday experiences shared on campus. Take advantage of as many opportunities as you can. By embracing opportunities we open doors we never knew existed. PLP provides many opportunities. For some it may be a job offer from a connection made with an alumni or even a CCI stakeholder. For others it may be the opportunity to see a beautiful city, somewhere far from home with familiar faces. A shared experience like this is truly priceless and an opportunity that I encourage everyone to take. Long story short – Class of 2019, if any of you are studying abroad anywhere near Brussels, I hope you consider packing your bags and going to visit Linda, Paul, Mimi, and Lauren. That’s where the International Leadership Association Conference is in fall 2017 and I promise you won’t regret it.
Written by Andrew Baer, 3rd yr PLPer studying abroad in Madrid, Spain