Hello everyone! I hope you are all safe back home. Sorry for the delay – I ran into a few roadbumps on my own way back.
It’s hard to choose where to begin. I guess it’s best to just go through our last day. I have to warn you, there’s a lot to cover!
Even to the very end, SSPers were always working. We met up in the classroom for a 9:00 morning lecture from Ms. Kirchoff and Mr. Levison from the Southwest Research Institute. Then we trudged over to the computer to lab to finish one, final task. The teams were tasked to present the results of our orbit integration project, in which we discovered the fates of our asteroids in the far, far, far future. I personally was not too remorseful to find that 100% of our clones of 6063 Jason were fated to crash into the sun or leave our solar system in just a short few million years.
After lunch (our very last C4C lunch!) we headed back to the lab for final presentations. Although we may have grumbled about having to put one together on the last day, I have to admit that it was satisfying to have a culmination of sorts of our work.
The folks from SWRI bid us farewell with one final lecture. Then, we were off to take some pretty pictures (non-astronomical ones).
Here we are!
It was cool to see everyone dressed up so nicely!
We also took team shots and lots of group photos and selfies. I don’t think you could’ve walked two minutes without taking another photo. Some of said photos:
Knowing that there was only one night left made dinner pretty sad. We were able to have an entire section of the C4C reserved to ourselves, which made the occasion all the more fancy.
After dinner we met in the planetarium for an address given by Dr. Janice Bishop, a member of the SSP Board of Trustees and SSP class of ’81. Her message was really touching, and made me feel closer to the ever so large SSP community. The transition from participant to alumni was inching closer and closer.
Perhaps the event of the night that most firmly cemented that bridge was a celebration hosted by the faculty. The TAs had prepared for each of us our own specialized plate boasting a proud designation. Ranging from sweet (Den mother) to funny (Bee killer), they were all warmly accurate to each recipient, evoking the memories each had shared with us.
But the centerpiece of each plate turned out not to be the titles, but the farewell messages left on them. As a final memento, we wrote comments on each other’s plates, and enthusiastically so; pens in hand, we ended up forming trains of people writing on plates and had to be persuaded to sit down.
The following video was both funny and sad. Cyndia did a really great job of editing! Despite the fact that all the pictured events happened at a max of a few weeks ago, the retrospective still stirred a tiny bit of nostalgia in me. It must’ve given others some feelings too, because soon after everyone was crying. Well, not everyone, but enough that the room fell into teary-eyed embraces. A few critical tears triggered some more, and so on until a wave of emotions slammed down. In these moments our fleeting remaining time was too real…
…so what better way to spend it than having fun? 😀
For just one night, Laura granted us with the privilege of no curfew! Some people were really smart and thought ahead of time to load up on food from the UMC, which resulted in something like this:
A good amount of people stayed up the entire night. Some played a round of Secret Hitler, while others chatted on the field (and slept on it for a few hours?). I’m not actually entirely sure of all of the exact sequences of events, but rest assured we had a good time.
As dawn broke, we gathered back in our rooms to clear out any leftover rubble and finish packing. (I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be covering Wednesday as well, but I don’t think anyone’s scheduled after me and it seems wrong to leave it out!) Our final morning together was short: we received our certificates of completion and pins, and then off to the airport we went.
But we did get to spend time at the airport together, and some of us even were on the same flights. As for me personally, I spent a lot of my flight reminiscing about SSP.
There’s a lot of things that could be said about this summer program in this post. But to be honest I don’t think I could sufficiently describe the experience in a few words. I wish my past self had known that―the self that had been painstakingly surveying the SSP 2016 CUB blog, wondering if she should attend or not. What I would say to her now is that you should do it! And that I am happy that you did. The best way for someone to learn about SSP is, actually, probably to read these posts, but even still they’re missing out on an experience only the 36 of us (and the 36 at NMT I guess) can grasp. Back then I asked myself: would I fit in? Would I be able to handle the work? Would I have fun? And the answer to all of these questions is yes! 100% yes. SSP was truly the best summer of my life, thanks to both my fellow SSPers and the hard-working faculty.
So, future SSPer… if you’re wondering whether or not to take the leap, my advice is to go for it. You will grow not only academically but socially, and while it will be hard, it is completely, 100% worth it. Have fun! And remember, your friends have got your back. (Speaking of, SSP CUB 2017, let’s meet up sometime!)