If you were to tell me a year ago that my life would be forever altered in just a few months, I would have scoffed in disbelief and brushed it away without a second thought. Nothing anybody said would have ever led me to believe that it was the efforts of a man on a mission and a group of the most open-minded and willing individuals that would create an impact on the person that I am today and continue to be every day. Under A Tree created a ripple effect in my life and for that, I could not be more grateful. Every voice, every action, every meeting, affected me in a way that words could never be enough to explain.
Last year, I learned so much about not only myself but the world and the people around me. I had lived in a bubble of ignorance for most of my life, believing the words society had fed me or rather the words they failed to say. Every thought in my head was never truly my own and deep down, I knew that the world was not as blissfully happy as they made it out to seem. I was living in a field of lies, without the slightest idea that my life had been a privileged one, and that problems around the world would continue to exist even if the media did not cover it.
Under A Tree helped me understand that heroes exist in all of us, if we just let ourselves become them. If we could take efforts to understand and expand our knowledge on the problems in society, it’s already one step closer to making the world a better place.
For a long time, I dreaded writing this because it meant that UAT3 would officially be over. We would never find ourselves to be the same people before this experience started and maybe we would never find ourselves in the same meetings all together again. I would never be able to read a concluding quote ever again. It was an idea that haunted me whenever I thought about the future of UAT. Saying goodbye has never been an easy thing to do, but saying goodbye to UAT3 will be one of the hardest things I will ever have to do.
I want to thank the fellows, the leadership team, and Daniel Meyer especially for making this an experience I will cherish forever. As I bid UAT3 away, I also welcome the new cohort of fellows who I have the pleasure of getting to know as the editor-in-chief this following year. I wish UAT4 nothing but the best this year, and if I had one piece of advice to share, it would be to take full advantage of this year.
Take risks, speak out, and most of all, be willing to learn and grow.
Get to know the people around you because the strength and beauty in their stories will leave you inspired. Know that you are not alone in the fight to make this world a better place and that the fellows around you can only bring you up, never down.
With that said, it’s time to officially welcome the new cohort and let the new year begin!