Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Camp CommUNITY Reflection - Rajiv Bhatia

Rajiv Bhatia—1994

I had the privilege of attending Camp CommUNITY during the summer of my sophomore year.  The early high-school version of Rajiv Bhatia was kind, intellectually accomplished, worried about finding his first girlfriend, mum about his involvement in the Boy Scouts of America, and on a near-constant search - trying to find where he "fit" into the world.  While I was a member of the newspaper staff and decently read, my Arlington, Texas upbringing had left me with only a partial view of the world in which I was preparing for, my sophomore year in high school.

I will not forget the pride I felt when I was first invited and encouraged by my friend and teacher to attend this unique summer camp.  I was one of a select number of Tarrant County youth who was offered this coveted invitation, and my confidence soared when I saw that she thought so highly of me. Through her encouragement, I signed on, and my experience during my Camp CommUNITY summer of 1994 provided me with a large number of “firsts.”

It was my first true exposure to what (to this day) is one of the best representations of the diversity of the real world.  None of the usual socio-economic, ethnic or intellectual filters that had usually been applied to the groups I frequented existed here.

This wasn't my High School.  Our biggest problem was not how to secure an on-site parking permit for our parent-provided late-model cars.  I was connected with the real youth of America, and we spoke about and attacked real-world issues: discrimination, opportunity, responsibility, conflict-resolution.  The perspectives on these topics were amazing - from the urban-poor of Tarrant County to the children of rich doctors, this microcosm of the world was an invaluable place to learn about the world, and myself.

Which leads me to one of my most important “take-aways” from the camp. Each one of us has a story and a perspective - even me.  I found that Camp CommUNITY was one of the primary experiences that helped me get comfortable with who I was and where I was headed.  After the camp and my following reflection, I found that I was less concerned with if I fit in at the REM concert or if I was part of the right crowd at school - I was more concerned about being a good citizen and really understanding the perspectives of the world around me.

I have carried these lessons around with me over the past 15+ years, and I feel it has made me a better person.  It has helped me in both my professional and personal life.  When I return to the workforce this summer, those Camp CommUNITY experiences will help me be a more conscientious and effective manager.  As my daughter grows up, I'll be able to stress to her the important of self-confidence and respect for others.

I simply cannot say enough about the long-lasting value of this unique camp.  Camp CommUNITY was a true turning point for me and played a hugely significant part in my growth and development from a boy to a man.  For that I will always be grateful that I was given this amazing opportunity.



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