Memory is something very intriguing. When we look back, we don't realize how some little experiences can shape our lives. Retreat was not a familiar name to me until last year when I came to America as an exchange student. This distinguished retreat experience has a special mark on my life journey.
When I was 16 years old, I left my family and went to a completely new place. From the minute I stepped off the plane at the Walla Walla Airport, I felt nervous, excited, and expectant. I faced various unexpected difficulties and challenges in the languages and cultures the first three months. Although it was sometimes difficult trying to find links between myself and my classmates, I never felt frustrated and always kept an optimistic attitude on everything. My school helped greatly in modifying my attitudes with the help and encouragement from my classmates and host family, I have become accustomed the new life style and different culture.
The junior encounter brought the bond with my classmates closer. It is said that a retreat is a gift of time and space to allow rest, reflection, prayer, and renewal. Our junior class went on this spiritual encounter during a snowing weekend with great expectations. It was a very simple place and withdrawn from the stresses and distractions of daily life. Our class broke into several groups and each group had six people with two senior leaders. Each person in the group was asked questions based on life, the faith, and the experience with God. I felt nervous and shy at first in answering the questions. Other members in the group gave me plentiful encouragements. I started to talk about my stories in my hesitant English. They sometimes agreed with my points which made me feel more confidence. It was a very big step for me at that time.
The questions seemed simple but really brought the whole group together and I got chance to know everyone. I did not feel strange because of the new place and people. Rather, I felt at home because everyone embraced others with their warm heart and true thought. At our last group gathering, we wrote down and talked about everyone's positive personality. I did not expect many comments about me because I acted very quietly at school; "Chris, you are smart and have sense of humor." said one of my classmates. "Chris, you made my day at that time." said by another classmates. Those little details in the school which I could not even remember, but they all did. That was a very grateful night. It was a memorable experience during the retreat.
Seniors at school always mentioned how great and astonishing the encounter would be. Receiving piles of letters from teachers, friends and even my parents from China was quite a big surprise. "I love to tease you and talk at dinner time; you are a very nice young man. I was happy to know I was a tiger in Chinese calendar and I always felt like I was." said Mr. Joe, my host dad, in the letter. The moment on that snowy night, when I read more and more of these letters, I realized that this retreat is for love and a concrete connection. "I am so excited that you are doing golf, we are going to become even better friends now! Chris, you are crazy good at math, of which I am totally jealous" said by one of my senior leaders. I laughed after I read it. Many other words like this made my emotion be more loved than I could ever imagine.
At the end of this retreat, we threw away a stone which engraved the past. It was a new and refreshing start. To an exchange student, it meant something different and special. Living and studying abroad was fairly challenging to a teenage, but our class was like a big family that gave me confidence and made me feel at home.
As a writer says "One of the secrets of life is to make stepping stones out of stumbling blocks". The junior encounter shaped me in both the spiritual and emotional ways. It is a blessing from the God. It is a stepping stone on life journey.
Memory is a very intriguing phenomenon. -----> How about that at the start?
This distinguished retreat experience has made a special mark...
I think the first para needs one more sentence to make it complete. You should add a sentence to the end of that first para, one that will be the core meaning of the whole essay.
...of which I am totally jealous," said
by one of my senior leaders.
As a writer says "One of the secrets of life is to make stepping stones out of stumbling blocks"-----> It's better if you tell the name of the person you are quoting.
This is a great essay, full of personality and detail. What is the central truth, the main idea? Can you say it in a single sentence?