Never in my life have I experienced excitement and nerves to the extent that I did when I got myself ready in the morning on the 4th of July 2017. Girls were milling about the dorm house with flags painted on their cheeks and glitter all over their faces. When I left for breakfast, I realised the boys were somewhat less colourful but just as enthusiastic.

After grabbing the signs we made the day before (Mine said: “Build bridges, not barriers!”) we set off. The atmosphere of the parade was incredible. There were so many people shouting and laughing. Our trek through the town of Brattleboro was made fun and light with songs and smiles. We (the Irish ones) took picture after picture and video after video, not wanting to miss out on anything. Walking in a parade is one thing, but it’s a completely different experience to walk through a parade side by side with people who you’ve bonded with and who you know are just as passionate about justice and peace as you are. It was a moment that I’ll never forget.

The day’s excitement didn’t end with the conclusion of the parade. We were whisked off to go swimming, shopping, berry-picking and ice-cream eating. It was truly an action-packed day and there wasn’t a single dull moment. Even the trip in the vans was lively.

After being fed with a good ol’ evening barbecue, and an hour or two of relaxing by the river, we were on our way back to the town where we’d end the day with the firework show. I’d say it was a perfect end to a perfect day. It was certainly an experience I’ll keep with me for a very long time.