This is definitely the most exciting blog post I’ve ever had the privilege to write. I am elated to say that I am a Channel Kindness Reporter for Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation. This past weekend, I was flown out to New York to meet 44 other amazing, down-to-earth, incredibly successful, sweet, genuine people ages 15-24. I can’t say enough about all of the wonderful people I had the opportunity to meet, but I know for sure that when everyone mentions that they wish they had a “perfect world”, I definitely got to experience it for just over 15 hours. I have to admit, I’ve never been more upset to leave a group of people, let alone people I hadn’t even known for a full weekend. Without further ado, if you’d like to continue reading about my experience in New York, keep reading! Especially if you’re one of my new 44 best friends, maybe this will help you reminisce a bit.
I flew out after several stressful delays on Friday night (thank you Shadille for being a STAR and handling all of my delays for me) and arrive in NYC at 5am! I met two other girls from Arizona: Ali and Maddie, both incredible girls who I had never met before. We were taken to the hotel along with Zay and Nic, two spectacular guys from Colorado and California, where we later met Rose and Saige, from Oklahoma and Iowa. After checking into this beautiful hotel in Midtown (the Iberostar!) Alex, one of the staff members of the foundation, took us all down to Starbucks and paid for everyone himself. This was the first “Random Act of Kindness” I experienced out of several this weekend.
As more people from around the country began to arrive, we settled into hotel rooms, switched clothing, took showers, and rotated between the lobby and hotel hallways as we waited for more people to arrive. When we hit around 20 people, we headed down to Convene, a large meeting center on Park Avenue. I have to admit, I was expecting the Channel Kindness Convening to take place in a warehouse-like facility tucked away in the city, but it’s safe to say we were all blown away by the facility. Everyone was gasping as we entered a room with endless amounts of snacks, an innovative coffee machine, as well as tons of candy and soda. It was a teen’s dream.
We started off our conference with catering from Panera as more teens and young adults flowed through the door. Snapping on our nametags, we tossed our phones around the table, frantically adding each other on Snapchat and Instagram. The day was filled with speakers, from staff members of the foundation to those of The Moth, a popular storytelling podcast that many of us knew and loved. The day was stock-full with workshops until we were led outside and to the subway to go visit ABC News. This was one of the highlights of my trip, especially since I have a dream of being a Broadcast Journalist for a national network.
That night, as we walked around the city and past Central Park, I met several new faces, like Jacob, Perri, Ricky, Hanna, and Tori (my awesome roommate!). We then went to eat at Sarabeth’s, and subsequently shared what we were most grateful for about the day. It was difficult to choose one moment from the day, especially since the day seemed like it was weeks long (in the best way possible!).
We headed back to the hotel and headed up to our floors- I’m convinced I had some of the best hallmates ever. I talked to Ricky, Jacob, Kirah, and Ali for a while before going to bed, wishing that I had several more nights to spend getting to know all of them.
The next morning, Tori and I woke up ten minutes before we had to be downstairs, packed and ready to go. Whoops. We somehow made it in time, gathered our departure information, and headed back to Convene. We were greeted with a wonderful breakfast, several more speakers (from NBC, BTW Foundation, and the Moth). When it hit 2pm, it was unfortunately time to wrap up the day and start sending people to the airport. Many pictures, laughing, and “let me know when you visit my city”s later, several of us loaded into the 3:40pm bus and headed to the airport. I met Ali and Nic at my gate (Maddie was there too, but that hard-working gal was finishing up an assignment for school), and the three of us sat and ate dinner at the gate while we waited for our flight.
I have to admit, I’ve never missed a group of people more. Thank you to everyone who was so patient in waiting for this announcement- I can’t even believe how hard it was for me not to tell you. I can’t wait to start publishing stories on channelkindness.org for you all to see, and to spread their amazing message to inspire youth and create a kinder and braver world. If you have any ideas for my stories, I’d love to hear them.
Until next time,