No one in my family had ever heard of the Oliver Program. Started by a man some would call “the only truly colorblind person they’d ever met,” John’s compassion for children he’d never seen before created a sense of trust coupled with a strong desire to meet his high expectations. We’d interview over an entire weekend – group, individual, and parent meetings. Some of us had never heard of the schools we hoped to attend. No one could anticipate or truly prepare for how simplicity would leave our lives.
We traveled on a tiny plane. It was my first time on a plane that small and I was not prepared for the turbulence. The sudden drops in altitude created butterflies in my stomach I couldn’t shake on the car ride to campus. It was a self-sustained world populated by hurried inhabitants with every imaginable resource at their fingertips. I knew I was supposed to want to belong. I knew I was supposed to be in awe but sadness crept in. I felt the tension within the current students – must get the best grades, get into the best college, and have the best life. The pressure was palpable. Could I stand it? Suddenly failure was a possibility.