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I listened to my mom and made friends

Airmen play various games after enjoying dinner at Higher Grounds, F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, March 14, 2018. The space is full of table, video and board games for visitors to play, and on occasion there are tournaments put together. Higher Grounds is a place for Airmen to relax, watch T.V., play video games and connect with other Airmen. There are volunteer opportunities, recreational trips, and fellowship. (U.S. Air Force photos by Airman 1st Class Abbigayle Wagner)

Airmen play various games after enjoying dinner at Higher Grounds, F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, March 14, 2018. The space is full of table, video and board games for visitors to play, and on occasion there are tournaments put together. Higher Grounds is a place for Airmen to relax, watch T.V., play video games and connect with other Airmen. There are volunteer opportunities, recreational trips, and fellowship. (U.S. Air Force photos by Airman 1st Class Abbigayle Wagner)

Just before dinner is ready, Airmen volunteers help out the Higher Grounds directors with last-minute tasks such as baking biscuits at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, March 14, 2018. Higher Grounds provides Airmen with volunteer opportunities within the facility and in the community. (U.S. Air Force photos by Airman 1st Class Abbigayle Wagner)

Just before dinner is ready, Airmen volunteers help out the Higher Grounds directors with last-minute tasks such as baking biscuits at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, March 14, 2018. Higher Grounds provides Airmen with volunteer opportunities within the facility and in the community. (U.S. Air Force photos by Airman 1st Class Abbigayle Wagner)

Airmen help themselves to a free home-cooked meal at Higher Grounds at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, March 14, 2018. Higher Grounds is open four days a week and every day the directors cook a meal for those who stop in to hang out. (U.S. Air Force photos by Airman 1st Class Abbigayle Wagner)

Airmen help themselves to a free home-cooked meal at Higher Grounds at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, March 14, 2018. Higher Grounds is open four days a week and every day the directors cook a meal for those who stop in to hang out. (U.S. Air Force photos by Airman 1st Class Abbigayle Wagner)

The Airmen volunteers are taught how to use the coffee machine at Higher Grounds and after dinner they take orders for those requesting a drink at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, March 14, 2018. Higher Grounds provides six flavorings that can be added into the coffee and for the non-coffee drinkers there are protein smoothies. (U.S. Air Force photos by Airman 1st Class Abbigayle Wagner)

The Airmen volunteers are taught how to use the coffee machine at Higher Grounds and after dinner they take orders for those requesting a drink at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, March 14, 2018. Higher Grounds provides six flavorings that can be added into the coffee and for the non-coffee drinkers there are protein smoothies. (U.S. Air Force photos by Airman 1st Class Abbigayle Wagner)

F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. --

I’m shy. I don’t really know how to introduce myself or carry on a conversation, and it tends to make interactions awkward. I know it’s my job within Public Affairs to talk to people, but it does not make it any easier. There wasn’t a course on friendship in tech school, but my mom’s words keep echoing in my head, telling me I need to go out and meet people.

Nevertheless, with my mom in the back of my mind, I put on something more casual than ABU’s and went to Higher Grounds.

I learned about Higher Grounds during the First Term Airmen’s Course many months ago, and the promise of free food captured my attention. Their flyer implied it is a place for Airmen to relax, watch television, play games and meet other people. I was in, but I was a little uncertain so I took a friend for back up.

Now let’s be real - when hearing it was in the basement of a dorm I became a little hesitant. I live in the dorms and there isn’t much down there. However, as soon as we got in the door the smell of home cooked food was wafting throughout the air. I began to think there must be a ton of people there because with food smelling that good, the whole dorm must stop by.

Just my luck, there were only about 15 people there. I don’t like crowds of people, so it provided the perfect atmosphere to ease into socializing.

Around the dinner table, everyone introduced themselves to us. I even knew a few people there from FTAC.

After dinner, the Airmen volunteers offered to make everyone coffee on the awesome espresso machine they have in there.

Once coffee and dessert were dished out, games and movies broke out throughout the space. The walls were lined with T.V.’s, game systems, and plush couches. A lot of the guys decided to start a ping pong tournament that played on throughout the evening. The winners were crowned at the end of the night with prizes such as beach chairs, gift cards, and tumbler cups.

At the end of the night, I walked out of Higher Grounds with a full belly, a wad of candy, and a desire to go back to hang out with my new friends.

I had a great time, and I didn’t even need my back up.

The experience I had at Higher Grounds made me want to go back and keep the space running for future Airmen. Since the night that I decided to listen to my mom’s echoing voice, I have returned several times. I have even joined the Higher Grounds Council to help make the space an Airman-run facility and to provide various activities.

Visiting Higher Grounds allows Airmen living in the dorms to get out and meet other people when it might not be so easy, and I am thankful the directors created an inviting atmosphere where I feel welcome and comfortable.