Once upon a time, in a state far away, two regions fell in love and slowly became one.
(Okay maybe Maury and Ethan haven’t fully approved the merge, but we’re working on it.)
Okay back to the story…
As a sophomore walking into my first International Convention knowing only EMTZA people, it was kind of scary. Being at the Baltimore airport, BWI, after over 8 hours of traveling and layovers, it was a relief to be done traveling for the day. Being at the BWI airport was also a reality shock and a reminder that I was going into IC as a newbie. I saw EMTZAniks reuniting with friends from Fall Boards Weekend and Pilgrimage, while I stood idly by meeting new faces. Though most of the faces were a blur, I distinctly remember waiting by the luggage carousel, and hearing the screams as EMTZA and SWUSY reunited. I saw Jessie Goldberg sprint to tackle Rachel Shapiro and heard countless screams from them and many others of “OH MY GOSH I MISSED YOU SO MUCH!” and “ I’M SO HAPPY TO SEE YOU AGAIN!” (Caps are necessary when describing USY reunions.)
By that point in the night it was pretty late and we were all exhausted from travel. The happily reunited USYers boarded a bus to Har Shalom Synagogue in Potomac, MD. Immediately SWUSY and EMTZA hit it off to a great start by blasting music and screaming along to the words of the official SWEMTZA song, 3005 by Childish Gambino. Once we got to Har Shalom and received our homestay assignments, I got lucky enough to share a house with the amazing Rachel Shapiro. Being a sophomore and staying with a senior, not to mention the regional president, was kind of intimidating to say the least. On the first night of homestay, we talked and talked for way too long about what I should expect at my first IC.
Over the next two days SWEMTZA enjoyed some Iced Aroma, way too many name games, classic Helfand moments, an awesome Shabbat, and Maury riding around Har Shalom on a trike meant for ages 2-6. I never thought I could become so comfortable with a group a strangers so fast. I guess that’s the magic of USY.
The day was finally here, time to leave the safety of SWEMTZA and go into the real deal, IC. Yet again we had an eventful SWEMTZA bus ride, blaring music and screaming along to 3005 as we anticipated the dream-like first day of IC. As convention got underway and everyone reunited with their respective friends, there was always a smile, a hug or a hi between a SWUSYite and an EMTZAnik whenever they would passed each other. I always knew that at convention I always had a friend to go to in SWUSY, and knowing I not only had EMTZA but SWUSY as well to rely on was an indescribable feeling.
When it was time for the IC recap video, there was a buzz in the air while waiting to find out where IC 2016 will be. The graphic of IC Dallas 2016 came up on the screen I immediately jumped up screaming along with the rest of the room. I grabbed the first SWUSY person in sight, which just happened to be Kira, and we screamed and hugged and screamed some more and once we could catch our breath I looked at Kira and screamed, “I’M GOING TO SWUSY, SWEMTZA IS HOSTING IC!” The next day when convention came to a close, we said our goodbyes to everyone, but the hardest for me was saying goodbye to the friends I had made in SWUSY. Goodbyes consisted of, “Come to SWUSY’s Spring!” and “Please come to EMTZA’s Spring Kallah!” Everyone was desperate to have another weekend where SWEMTZA would be together once again.
As I walked back into the BWI airport, my life completely different since I was last there, I saw some SWUSYites all sitting together waiting for their flights at the food court. We reminisced about the good times at pre-con and IC, but we all had one thought on our minds; Why can’t IC last longer? As the majority of SWUSY and EMTZA departed on their separate flights, there was a small group of 6 SWEMTZAniks left. I along with the rest of the remaining SWEMTZAniks went to go get milkshakes, and in the Silver Diner in the BWI airport was where the first ever (self-appointed) SWEMTZA board was made along with Rachel Shapiro as the official RYD. On December 31st, the day SWEMTZA disbanded, we made a group chat and everything called SWEMTZA and CHILL, so you know it’s super official.
Although we may not be together physically anymore, and we have had our respective conventions since IC, the group chat is always a reminder of the love SWEMTZA will always have. From establishing that debate is NOT a sport, to the day where we all took on different identities by changing our names and confusing everyone, discussing politics, sending quizzes about Texas or Midwest stereotypes for everyone to take to see how Texan/Midwestern you really are, and so much more. You could say we all lived happily ever after.
So now you know up about the love story of SWEMTZA. But what point does this all have? Well, that scared sophomore walking into her first IC will always remember the moment she met SWUSY and the lessons they all taught her. I learned that in USY you will find some of the most amazing people, who although you may not be with physically, or even see every couple of months at USY conventions, will always be just a text, FaceTime, call, or Group Me away. I cannot wait to have my “home” region host IC next year. See you soon SWUSY! I’m looking forward to being on your turf.