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The premise of this childhood favorite is that a groups of pals come together, at first awkward, and end up having a wonderful summer, with some of them even embarking on life-changing experiences during the hot days. The main character gives the audience an insight into each of his new buddies, and I believe, as the program is wrapping up, an introduction into my new buddies has found to be a necessary task. 

I was dying, truly dying. I saw God open up Heaven and I could hear the angels singing, alongside some bugs buzzing, of course. I was sweating because I sweat a lot and life was ending. Then he comes over and refuses to leave. He stays by my side for almost all of my journey up the mountain. Why did I even decide to climb the mountain? Whatever the reason was irrelevant now because here I was and he would not leave. He tried a countless amount of times to take my backpack from me. He offered me breaks and company and support. He checked in and helped me focus and he refused to leave. Aditya is the boy who pushes you yet supports you, who says thank you louder than anyone else, and who wants nothing more than to see his friends try new fruits. 

Did you know she is Greek? Because she is. In case you were wondering. She is most likely to win the award for Complaining But In A Positive Way. She has a life crisis every time she is trying to nap, but she conquers. When we learn about new cultures and customs, her eyes shine the brightest. Her love for knowledge is pure. If you ever go to KTV and want someone there who can actually sing the songs with the correct tune, ask her. Her name is Athina and it is debatable whether she would choose never eating cheese again over getting a perfect score on the MCAT.

You know how moms always tell you to do/not do certain things and you think ‘whatever’ but then something happens and you wish you listened? This girl has that mom trick which, honestly, is cheating at life because she isn’t even a mom yet. Just saying. She is always right, especially when she’s wrong. She speaks in a way which makes you believe her. This is her secret power when playing Mafia. She can most definitely rule the world and her name is Caroline.

He is goofy. He is 12. Not just in looks, but in goofiness as well. He can make anything funny and sometimes I’m sure his brain isn’t with us, but he is and we are eternally grateful. The current running joke is that he is my twin brother. He takes it all gracefully and I am sure our pretend/imaginary mom is completely unsure which one of us is more childish. No matter how many times you try, he can never be embarrassed. He wins the ugly voice competition by imitating Stitch. Just when you think he is all jokes and silliness, Daniel shows you his heart is real, and big, and so, so caring.

Somehow she merely stands and gets wrapped up in conversations wherein people share their entire life. She is trustworthy. She is the type of person you could go on a walk with then check the time and realize your conversation went so deep that you accidentally walked for 5 days. She does this thing where she goes ‘I haven’t practiced’, in reference to playing the piano, then proceeds to play a piece that moves you to tears and is filled with more passion than a Nicholas Sparks novel. For some reason, her blood has this secret potion in it that attracts the mosquitos of the world. And yet, even when she is under attack by them 24/7, Irene is able to smile and dance and laugh. 

At first, you think he wants everyone to know how smart he is and what an engineer he is. Then it hits you. He wants to share. He wants to make things fun. He wants to make people happy. You can have the most random of conversations with him, and he can keep them going probably forever. He is most definitely not afraid to try new things. Ever. At all. He does not learn about a culture. He immerses himself, digs in really deep, uproots, and embraces a culture. He can be seen carrying around a book with Mandarin written on its pages, or trying…interesting foods with his host family. Jonah is unstoppable and, honestly, the world better get ready for him.

Again, leave it to me to be dying. This time it was The Great Wall. I never knew it was all steps, and then when they end, there are more, so it really never ends. Was it worth the shirt? Duh. Was I dead, though, almost. Almost because the entire way up, the Entire Way Up The Great Wall of China, I had her cheering me on. I had her stopping with me and letting me rest when I absolutely needed it. All 274 breaks eventually had us at the top. I made it up in complete disbelief. Without Megan, those who are left alone, will always be alone. With Megan, those almost forgotten are not. 

She is sarcastic. She is loud. She is thoughtful. She thinks of everyone and does so in a subtle manner. If she does something, she truly gives it her all. Whether it be connecting with students, teaching dance, or playing pranks on members of the program. She is always available for a coffee date and often tells tales of how the cats in her host family are treated like royalty, as if that isn’t her future household. It’s hard to know what each of us was carrying before we came here, but when you do find out, it leaves you admiring the strength and courage of people like Pam.



This is someone who has better vocabulary than any of us ever will. She knows words that I couldn’t even spell to look up if I tried. This girl will take her time ordering food for all 300 people in our group because she can read the menu, then she will order for herself. She will go with you anywhere you need in order to make sure things do not get lost in Google Translation. She will arrange random experiences for us all to embark on, and sit back, simply enjoying that we are enjoying ourselves. Phyllis is the friend who forces you to think deeper.

She is my OG hotel roommate. She will ask me simple questions and never grow bored when I end up telling her my life story as an answer. She is constantly working to improve her work, in the hopes of improving the things which other’s receive. She is going to be the coworker in the future who arrives before all of us and leaves after the lights are all off. When you think of people you are gracious, who are respectful, and who are caring, you think of her. You want to be better just by looking at her. Not because she is perfect, and not because she’s trying to be the image of perfection either, but because she is trying to be her best self, which is all we should be doing anyways. 

Like in The Sandlot, this summer won’t change all of our lives. It’s hot, things are crazy, and life is moving way too quickly. Similar to The Sandlot, though, we all bring something to the table (or baseball field). We are here for each other. Even if someone like myself simply cannot get the rules right when literally teaching the game of baseball. If I were to speak as the main character of this real life Sandlot, I would say that this summer has changed me, a lot. We will all go our separate ways, life isn’t a fairytale. But, I pray, I pray so hard, that in 20 years when I look at the photos of my life splattered around my house, I will be able to say what is happening in the lives of 10 friends who changed my summer.