Surprise Party Reflections

I think all of the CASI interns would agree that the summer went much too fast. It feels like only a short time ago that we arrived excited, nervous, and with generally no idea of what was to come.


It’s a set of mental gymnastics to contrast those first few days at Leap—lost, exhausted from the flight, stressed about all the work we already had—with our final day at the office, when our amazingly kind coworkers threw a surprise going-away party for us. How in the span of only two months did we feel like we had become a part of the Leap family?


When our coworkers asked us to speak about our experience at Leap, in front of the entire Leap staff, I immediately tensed up. I have never been a verbose person, especially when it comes to sappy/motivational/inspiring things. I could already see myself saying “I had a great time” and then embarrassingly sitting back down.


So when I actually started speaking and saying heartfelt, (somewhat) nicely-worded things, I was shocked. I spoke about how hard the first week was, how worried I was about working on an LMS (learning management system, like Canvas or Blackboard) when I had no tech experience, about how blown away I was by the kindness of all of the trainers, how we all laughed all day long at work. When I finished, I realized I was not the same person as at the start of the summer. I never would have had the courage to express myself so openly and freely in front of a crowd of people I cared so much about. Just like Leap inspires confidence in their students, in that moment I realized they had done the same for me.


Confidence, persistence, teamwork—these are all traits I considered myself relatively poor in before this summer at Leap. I will forever be grateful to them for challenging me to do things I would have balked away from, and for pushing me when I needed to be pushed. Can’t wait to go back and visit!

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About Jacob Berexa

University of Pennsylvania alum; MSEd in Intercultural Communication (2018), BA in South Asia Studies (2017). Currently working as a linguist and researcher at a market research firm