A little over a year ago, I walked out my front door with my suitcases and a backpack, uncertain of what was to await me in Kenya but excited nonetheless. Yesterday, I walked out the door of my room in Corralitos, California with my suitcases and a backpack, uncertain of what is to await me next but excited nonetheless. However, the person who went to Kenya is not the same person who arrived at home yesterday.
A year isn’t a very long time when you think about it. It’s only the difference between 2nd and 3rd grade, or between 24 and 25 birthdays. But at the same time, one year can be more than enough to change who you are and open your eyes to different realities and peoples. And you can take a million photos to document your journey.
Looking back, I can see the moments that challenged me, some entertaining (the plumbing disaster in Kenya), some satisfying (organizing our Side Event at the UN), and some just plain upsetting (my Bellflower students asking about discrimination and their status). Each moment helped me to grow, to learn how to handle different situation with, if not grace, at least some semblance of calm.
There were also so many moments that were full of joy and laughter. Playing and washing clothes with the girls, trying to dance and failing utterly, singing God Bless America while bringing in the shepherds pie on Thanksgiving were just a few of the many joyous events in Kenya. In Geneva, hanging out with other interns, traveling to see and eat at the cheese and chocolate factories, and spending time with the Sisters at meals made my time there happy, too. And finally, I experienced total giving and love being in Bellflower with the amazing students, teachers, and sisters at St. Dominic Savio and then helping out at the summer camp in Corralitos.
And I learned. Small things, but important nonetheless:
- Sometimes the best things can happen when you say yes to the unknown.
- Fear is a part of life, but it is not the only thing and therefore should not be the only thing that one focuses on.
- We can help people, but we cannot save them. People can only save themselves.
- Our ego can be the biggest barrier to connecting with others. It’s good to deflate it once in a while.
- People are the same for all that they are different. And because we are the same, we should see others as another us and treat them thusly.
Life is learning process and we learn more and more everyday, especially when we go outside our comfort zone. And let me tell you, this past year often tossed outside my zone of comfort with extreme prejudice! But I’m glad for it. I’m glad for the people I met, for the places I saw, and for the time I spent experiencing all that I was meant to experience. God had a plan for me this year and, though I’m not sure what the next part is, I’ve gained a bit more trust and a bit more faith that things will develop as they are meant to.
To everyone who has followed my adventure (all…ten of you I think), thank you so much for sharing this with me. I hope that my stories made you laugh and contemplate in their turn and that, if anything at all, I could be make one of your days a little brighter.
So now, at the end of my VIDES adventure, I won’t sign off with a goodbye because that’s not how we do things here. As usual, I’ll just say I love you all and…
Until next time!