I was initially excited but also a little concerned about the dangers of the 49th state, the last frontier. I did not know what to expect, and there was no amount of pictures or reassuring words that could avert my anxiety. However, I was told that if I kept calm, stayed with the group, and followed directions, I would be just fine. I simply, could not know how much truth those words held. The first day I was underwhelmed. It was occupied by new faces, two cross-country flights, an average hotel room, and McDonald's. It only got better from there. I simply could not predict or fathom how much better the experience would get. The first few hours still saw us plagued and held hostage to our electronic devices. There was little communication apart from some reintroduction and the games to pass the time in the airports. However, after the confiscation our cellphones we were thrust into camaraderie. We shared the crowded hot, stink, the crowded discomfort of the van, we got rained on, we got wet, we climb mountains, touched plants, saw nature, climbed glaciers, shared stories, and found unimaginable wonder and amazement. To say the least, we were a long way from home. That at least wasn't an exaggeration. And of all the embellishing I could do and the profound words I could say honestly, I found interest in the simplest of things. I got to learn some things from collegiate botanists about the plants. I got to eat homegrown food and got an improvised plastic bag raincoat/ mosquito repellant from a Yoda, hermit, elder-statesmen named Marc Vale. I, best of all, however primitive, I could 'go' anywhere.
The Alaska trip was liberating only if you allowed yourself to be free. You could only progress past certain obstacles if you choose to accept that they existed. Cliches and all, you could only claim success if you accepted the reality of defeat. Most importantly, there are situations which you simply could not get through efficiently or get through at all without the aid or collective knowledge of others. Ultimately, I felt grateful not because there were people willing to promote and support a charitable cause (because there are a lot of places that could have benefited from the time, effort, and money). But once again Brooklyn has delivered, once gain great people have succeeded in showing me hard work just for the sake of hard work. A lot of people invested in me when they didn't have to. I have been gifted generosity and community. Alaska and the whole experience humbled and inspired me to appreciate the privilege I have. Don't take your environment for granted or the people around you, relax a little and enjoy life.
My name is Arianna, and I had the pleasure of being one of the six girls who were on the inaugural “girls trip” to Alaska. This trip was definitely full of laughs and love, if you told me I would’ve grown love for everyone on the trip and cry as we landed at JFK I would’ve said: “you got jokes.” As an antisocial person, I can honestly say I grew to be a more friendly spirit after being in Alaska. We learned how to rely on each other and not be consumed by our phones. I was afraid to climb on the ice glacier, but I was encouraged by others, and in the end, I climbed a wall of ice. Without this trip, I would not be the excelling high school junior I am right now. From the bottom of my heart, and my hiking shoes, thank you for the opportunity to have gone on this amazing trip.
My name is Anyely, and I am one of the extremely lucky girls who went to Alaska last summer. Alaska has been and always will be one of the biggest blessings in my life. If you would’ve told me two years ago that I was going to go to Alaska and in my freshman year I would start playing softball, I would’ve sarcastically laughed and told you that you are extremely cruel for joking around like that. The truth is that if I would’ve never gone to Alaska, I wouldn’t be able to be so outgoing or emotionally stable to balance freshman year along with softball. I learned how to believe in myself. I learned in Alaska, you learn that life is so much more than just your phone or being socially accepted by others around you. You learn that there is a whole other world out there. A world where your worries seem so far away and your future seems so much bigger and brighter than before. We learned that we are far more capable of doing things that we ever imagined. You will learn that it’s not just about what you can do on your own, but what you can do TOGETHER as a team and a family. These girls will become like sisters, and no one else will go through that same experience with you. I learned all of these lessons having to do with life and the strength within me that I never thought I had because of this amazing experience. I can never repay what all of these people have given me. I have a new family and a new perspective of the world.
The Brooklyn to Alaska Project has been a program that has impacted so many kids’ lives over the past decade. I’ve seen it firsthand in other participants, and I’ve also experienced it myself. As someone who’s been lucky enough to go on the trip five times, both as a participant and a leader, I’ve seen how this trip has grown and how it has made an impact on each person lucky enough to go on it. Personally, it changed my life in many ways. I’ve created friendships through it, developed leadership skills and experience that have opened up job opportunities for me, but most of all it has pushed me to welcome change rather than shy away from it. When I was 16 going on my first trip, I had my doubts and worries about it all. It was taking me completely out of my comfort zone not only going from the Brooklyn streets to the Alaskan wilderness, but also from all my friends to a group of strangers I had never met before. It was something I had never done and for a teenage kid that can be nerve-wracking. Change is scary. But by the end of that two- week journey it seemed like I had known everyone for years and it was the trip of a lifetime. The BK to AK Project is fun, challenging, stressful, and rewarding all at the same time and that’s what makes it so special. Every kid that has the opportunity to experience it takes away something positive from it, some more-so than others. It is an incredible program that has only gotten bigger and better each year and will continue to make a great impact on Brooklyn teenagers for years to come.
Ever since I was in grade school, I have always been a germaphobe. I never liked camping and I never liked the cold. So you could imagine my skepticism when I was initially asked by my Principal if I would like to go to Alaska. During the time leading up to the trip, I was panicking every time the thought of me being there crossed my mind. I couldn’t believe that I agreed to go to Alaska. My mouth said “Yes” but everything else in my body said, “No, what are you thinking?” I never felt so much anxiety in my life; however, the true panic didn’t kick in until I was on the plane and I knew that it was no turning back now. The only thing that seemed to ease my pain was the comfort of the group of boys, to whom I just met, that somehow made me feel a lot better. I learned that I was not the only one who had no intention of actually coming on this trip and wanted to go back home. By the time we landed in Alaska, I felt like I had known these boys for years. Over the course of the first night, my fear of the unknown started to diminish and I actually started to enjoy myself. That is when I realized that maybe the trip wouldn’t be so bad, and I was right.
When I tell people about Alaska, I tell them about the Mini Airplanes that we flew in, I tell them about the fish that I caught, I tell them about the glacier that I climbed, and I never forget to leave out the rafting trip that we took. I watch people’s facial expression turn to astonishment as I tell them about how there were no showers, toilets, or electricity. The teenagers face usually change around the no wifi part. Anyone that knows me well couldn’t believe that someone like me could go on such a trip. I then go on to tell them that all it took was a little adapting. After I got used to the environment that I was in, I actually started to enjoy it. I enjoyed the sleeping outside, I enjoyed the food that they cooked, however, I could never say that I enjoyed not having plumbing. I became a totally different person in Alaska, I stopped worrying so much about the dirt around me and how neatly organized everything was. I got to self-reflect much more without a screen in my face 24/7 and I got to bond with a group of kids who changed my life.
Out of everything that we did, ironically, the white water rafting was my favorite part. I say ironically because I was absolutely determined not to do it at first. I was terrified and I could do without drowning in freezing cold water, but with some persuasion, I eventually decided to give it a try. Sam and Mr. Stokes really helped me get into that water, especially with Matt’s somehow reassuring voice that can make one feel relaxed while falling off the Empire State Building. I was convinced that I would fail the swimming test at the beginning and be sent back, so when I shockingly passed it, one could imagine how unhappy I was with the results. My heart was beating a million beats per minute until we got into the first canon. I actually started to have a good time, but it was not until everyone got knocked off the boat that my heart started to fill with joy and excitement. After it was over, I remember wanting to go right back to the top to do it again. The last day of the trip was the saddest part because I didn’t want to go back home. How did I go from not wanting to come to Alaska, to not wanting to leave Alaska. As we flew back on the plane back home, I reflected on the trip as a whole, the good and the bad. If you would have told me that I was going to go to Alaska a couple years ago, I would have looked at you as if you needed medical attention. Now, I couldn’t imagine not going on this trip, as it has shaped and molded me from the countless experiences and factors that I have come across in Alaska.