Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants

The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants - Walton Nichols, daughter of Melissa and Randy Nichols, recently returned from Greece as part of a study abroad program through Global LEAD, a leadership and service program based at the University of Georgia. Acceptance into the program is based on grades, application, and leadership. During her trip, Walton took two upper level electives and earned six college credit hours while performing services in Greece and learning about various styles of leadership.

Within the first 10 minutes after landing in Athens, her cell phone – with international calling capability – was stolen, which may have been a blessing. Walton explains, “I loved not having a phone. I had my laptop and our hotel had Wi-Fi. I could still Skype and Facebook message my parents. Now, after going 35 days without a phone, I feel like I can accomplish anything!”

While in the Athens area, the students stayed in a hotel in the seaside community Glyfada, about half an hour from the capital’s city-center. While volunteering at an inner-city refugee center, they were made aware of the dangers of human trafficking. They also painted the center, interacted with the children and adults, and painted a neighborhood park.

Of the experience Walton said, “It was so amazing to see people who had absolutely nothing, give more than they had. They made me truly appreciate what I have. As I was feeling guilty about all I have compared to these children and people, one of our leaders, Courtney Doran, told us, ‘Don’t judge others on the experiences you haven’t had. Don’t feel guilty for what you have – but never forget what you saw.’”

Walton continued, “Courtney’s comment made me feel like even though my friends and I have more than refugees from many countries, we could learn from them. I learned to be mindful of other cultures and to always strive to be mindful in all situations, not just certain ones. There is an old saying, ‘Take a walk in someone else’s shoes.’ I definitely put on their shoes and walked a block or two for a couple of weeks.”

Walton said she’d always thought of herself as a giving person, but volunteering at the refugee center made her realize what giving really is. She also learned there are other ways to communicate besides with language.

During free time in Athens, Walton enjoyed shopping the streets and shops of the Plaka area, a lively area of tavernas (casual restaurants) and shops all virtually in the shadow of the Acropolis.

“The Acropolis was the most historic place ever!” Walton said. “I took over 900 pictures. It was so neat seeing the Acropolis, the Parthenon, and The Theater of Dionysus…It felt so unreal being there.”

After two weeks, the students and their leaders traveled by overnight ferry to (the island of) Crete for another couple of weeks’ service work and leadership training. However, it was the island of Santorini that captured Walton’s imagination and heart.

Of the island made globally popular in many books and movies, Walton said, “Santorini was GORGEOUS! It literally looked like a post card. It was absolutely paradise. I swam in (the southern Aegean Sea), which is part of the Mediterranean Ocean, and also in the hot springs. I saw a few dolphins while swimming and snorkeling, and I climbed volcanic rocks. I was captured by the beauty. I also went to the town of Oia where the movie ‘Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants’ was filmed. Everyone was so nice and welcoming. The people love Americans. I ate so much seafood. Everything was so fresh. I probably have enough mercury in my system for a lifetime. I felt so much peaceful energy while I was in Santorini. Not having a phone was absolutely amazing! It would have just been a distraction.”

[Perhaps Walton's story should be required reading by every high school and college student in the nation. ~BBL]

What Walton learned in Greece
“The most amazing thing I experienced was our service work. Volunteering at the refugee center and learning about human trafficking opened my eyes to so many things. Through all of the service work, adventures, readings and new relationships, I have learned… to really be grateful for the small, simple things in life, such as: a house I can call a home, loving parents, an education, knowing where my meals come from, and last but not least, the opportunity to be a Christian.”

When Walton returns to the University of Alabama, shewill be a sophomore and has been notified that she will be inducted into two honor societies, Phi Sigma Theta and The National Society of Collegiate Scholars. Her major is Broadcasting and Telecommunication-Film, and she plans to add Dance as a second major. [She graduated from Escambia Academy in 2011.]

Walton also said pledging Kappa Kappa Gamma was the best thing that ever happened to her, adding, “I think it’s so neat that I pledged my mother’s sorority, and in the fall I’m living in the same house she did while she was in college!”

Walton is extremely active in Kappa. She’s the ChapterRegistrar and is also in charge of KKG history reports, scrapbook, and the annual chapter composites. She also participated in her sorority’s Walk for a Cure and the Relay For Life committee.

She enjoyed her dance classes and training during freshman year. Dance is her “passion.” She also loves being in Tuscaloosa with her brother, Gordon, who stayed in T-town this summer to take classes. They haven’t seen each other since Walton returned from Greece, and she is eager to see him. She added, “Without Gordon, freshman year would have been A LOT more stressful.”

Which one person had the most impact on Walton?
In Walton’s words, “I made a friend at the refugee center. She was 11 years old and had three siblings. I don’t know where she came from or why she was there, but she was so sweet, gentle and nice.

“As we were painting our nails, making bracelets, and getting our faces painted during a carnival, she kept mentioning how much she liked my bracelets.

“A few days later I saw her again, she was wearing the same clothes. Even though she didn’t speak much English, we communicated with more than just words. At the end of the day, I gave her one of my bracelets and told her to always remember she made a new friend. I gave her one of my six bracelets. As she put on the bracelet, her face lit up in grateful amazement. I came to the point of tears without realizing I was crying tears of joy…I hope I touched other lives just as I touched hers…by just showing love, care, and simply a smile.”

Walton’s maternal grandmother is Ann Waller; I.G. Nichols is her paternal grandfather. They must be very proud of this outstanding young lady.

The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants Rating: 4.5 Diposkan Oleh: Arm Aritn

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