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FARE Blog October 12, 2023

A FARE Summit Friendship Success Story That Will Make You Want to Go to Summit ‘23

"It’s just nice having a group of friends who understand you!"
Guest post by Teen Advisory Group members Ashley Shinohara and Sakura Murase
Hello! This is Sakura Murase and Ashley Shinohara and we would like to share our story of how our friendship grew because of the 2022 FARE Summit.
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Before we made friends who have food allergies, our lives were very different. We’re sure most teens with food allergies know what it’s like to have no one to relate to about food allergies because your friends don’t have food allergies and don’t understand. We often felt left out in certain food social events. But at Summit, when we all met each other and had lunch together, we all felt like we had found our safe pod. It’s just nice having a group of friends who understand you! We first met each other at the Teen Social. We were standing next to each other during one of the icebreaker games. We immediately started talking about school volleyball and our similar interests. That’s when Ashley invited Sakura to hang out together with other friend, Aiyah, who Ashley had met at the June FACES (Food Allergy Conference for Education and Science) in Chicago. Aiyah had also made a new friend, Trinity. So all four of us talked and really connected and became friends that night. We decided to meet up and sync our schedules so we could go to the sessions together! The next day, we all grew closer. We were bonding, hanging out, and clicking because we walked around the hotel the Summit was at, chatted all day, and got to know each other better. Aiyah had also met Teresa at the Teen Social the previous night and invited Teresa and her brother, Trevor, to join us for lunch. We immediately became friends: Ashley, Sakura, Aiyah, Trinity, Teresa, and Trevor. We hung out for the rest of the day and had so much fun at the Teen Pajama Party. We made so many memories and all had such an amazing time all in the course of two and a half days. The last day of the conference unfortunately brought our fun to an end but we still managed to keep in touch for the past few months and still do! 
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There were so many events that helped us bond and grow closer at the Summit! For example, the Pajama Party was definitely where we all hung out and became closer as friends. We had so much fun taking photos, dancing, and snacking, especially. The Teen Social has a special place in our hearts; that’s where we all first met! We attended most sessions together, if not all, and even hung out together in between sessions. The big FARE Summit sign was our home base and we always met up there whenever we split up for dinners or separate sessions; we even dropped each other off at our hotel rooms. After the 2022 FARE Summit, which was one of the highlights of the year for us, we were very sad to leave each other after our friendship just bloomed. However, we left with the fact that we had a support group who understood life with food allergies. Now, we feel more comfortable talking about our food allergies openly and how it affects our lives because we built that experience at the Summit. Even though we miss each other a lot, we feel closer to each other than at the Summit because we keep in touch over text and FaceTime.  We participate in many projects through FARE, which have helped keep us together. For example, we are all Teen Advisory Group (TAG) members as of 2023, which allows us to join several TAG projects, such as the Teen Talk Committee, where we help to lead monthly Teen Talks. In fact, writing this blog together is a TAG project! The two of us also decided to apply to speak at the upcoming 2023 FARE Summit, so we hope we can do that together as well! We are so thankful for FARE and TAG for helping us to strengthen our group’s friendship and we look forward to seeing each other again at the Summit this year!  We’re sure that our friend group will agree that our friendship has continued to thrive since the FARE Summit in 2022. We’ve become closer through many activities such as doing a Secret Santa gift exchange, calling each other once a month, texting in our group chat or directly messaging each other almost everyday, and seeing each other virtually through the monthly Teen Talks.  Since we talk to each other often, we feel comfortable being vulnerable with each other. We immediately tell each other if we have allergic reactions because we know we’ll always receive invaluable support and empathy from one another since all of us know what it’s like. We also talk about other food-allergy related topics, such as food recommendations, and other topics in general, such as school and giving each other advice for social situations. We’ve become some of each other’s best friends when it comes to food allergies and life in general! Thank you for reading our story and a big thanks to FARE for helping us, Sakura and Ashley, meet new friends and even best friends. 

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