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Authored By: Ashley R. Oliver
Aubrey Drake Graham once prosed, “all I ever needed was the squad, so that’s what’s up.” Those words have rang true in my life for the past year - I’ve been a new kid in a new city and I’ve been deeply seeking a crew, a set, a squad, the homies - MY homies, rather. And exactly a year to the day that I moved to Kentucky, (the exact day! God is so real!) ....I found them.
I am deeply exhausted and still completely invigorated by the weekend that just unfolded. I spent the past two days with two dozen strangers and we were intentional, thoughtful, and vulnerable with each other. We all shared a common thread - progressivism - and came together to do participate in what Dexter Horne eloquently phrased, “liberal boot camp.” 😂
And while we talked politics a bit, we talked about ourselves more. After hours of dialogue and 384 cups of sweet tea, I now know that I am in the most remarkable company of 25 brilliant people who trusted me, trusted us, with the story of their lives. We snapped together, shared bites of massive desserts, had sing a longs while cruising the P-Town streets, epically failed in a snowball fight, cried a lot, laughed a lot more, and loved on each other the most. We are the largest NLC chapter in the country and I can’t imagine our cohort without six of us - thank you to our board for insisting on a vision for our class before we could even see it for ourselves. When I first learned there was 26 of us, the geek in me thought of the atomic number of iron, which is 26 and the only thing I remember from chemistry class. In the book of Proverbs, “it says as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens the other” - I think we were divinely orchestrated to sharpen each other, and I take that task and that honor very seriously and with much reverence.
I’m battling a lot internally right now - fighting for clarity, peace of mind, stability, love, acceptance - and I shared that with these people, bracing for impact that never came. They didn’t turn from me - they are rooting for me and willing to fight with me...and that feeling is indescribably comforting, that feeling quells a quaking I’ve endured for awhile. And for the 25 of them, I’ve never felt so quickly invested in the goals of people I had never met. I’m all in for all y’all.
Sometimes what’s understood can’t be explained - I feel like this is one of those times, but I just wanted to attempt to convey how grateful I am to be tethered to these brilliant, beautiful people. Thank you to the city of Paducah for being a backdrop to a life changing weekend, thank you to John andJamie for the tireless work you put into our experience (and for the cheesy potatoes), thank you to all of the New Leaders Council - Kentucky board for your support, thank you to Jewel Anderson and Zebulon Beilke-McCallumfor your amazing candor and kindness - I don’t know if we could’ve had better LE trainers (*snaps in approval*), and thank you to New Leaders Council for the vision - the Commonwealth of Kentucky is officially in good hands 😉. To my fellow fellows, thank you for being your most authentic selves, I can’t wait to build something beautiful with y’all. 💙💚 #nlcky#nlcfamily
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