Eric Luu, a 2012 Connections Institute graduate and rising senior at Glen Allen High School, is completing his required internship for the Center for Education and Human Development at VCIC this summer and fall.  He is also raising funds through the “20/20 Campaign: A Vision for a More Inclusive Virginia.”  These are his reflections:
Hello! My name is Eric Luu, a senior in the Center for Education and Human Development at Glen Allen High School. Currently, I am an intern at Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities (VCIC), and honestly, I’ve been anticipating my internship all summer! The reason for my excitement dates back to when I was first introduced to this organization in 2012 when I attended Connections, a program made and facilitated by VCIC.
Many people will tell you Connections is life-changing, eye-opening, and incredibly impactful. I am one of those people! What I had experienced at Connections was a humongous leap in character. I came in to Connections unaware of how prevalent and influential racism, gender stereotyping, and gender roles were in everyday lives, especially those who had been impacted negatively from it. Hearing people’s stories, understanding my own, and learning about how to better both myself for my own sake as well as society’s sake spoke to me in ways no one had spoken to me before…because no one had introduced these types of conversations to me before! If anything, I learned that humanity has hope, because if I was able to connect so strongly with other individuals in a week, then I can surely do the same for the rest of my life.
Interestingly enough, I had a culture-shock right after Connections. Transitioning from my supportive family with Connections to my not so understanding friends and family back home left me distraught. A lot of my friends thought I had become too sensitive to problems and ultimately, I felt very alone. I did overcome all of it, and I have become more independent and grown since, but I do warn some future delegates that everyone may not want to hear your story.
The growth I had during and after Connections helped lead who I am today.  I have experienced many “similar” experiences to Connections such as HOBY, both Key Club District and International Conventions, and other leadership programs, but nothing competes with Connections. The way the camp is put together and the finesse that Connections has is impeccable, untouchable, and is definitive to the point.
To this day, I believe that Connections is the reason for most of my successes, because of the perspective it gave me. I only hope to continue sharing the same kindness and understanding Connections gave to me to wherever I go. 

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