The thing about it is, every year is full of these things. I could say the same about every year of my life, but something about this past year has made me more aware of it all. There's something about being out of your element and taking in an experience as if it's the only time it'll ever happen that makes you realize how many days we take for granted.
A year ago today, I didn't know what to expect, if it would be easy or hard, if I'd meet lifelong friends or miss all those I left back home, if I'd return a different person, if I'd return at all. Well today I don't know anything about the year to come so I'm taking a moment to be thankful for all that happened since the day I left last year and using that as motivation to do the same in this coming year.
I will start a new journey as Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) Specialist at Michigan Organization on Adolescent Sexual Health (MOASH). As with the Bonderman Fellowship, this position is in it's first year and no one really knows how it will all unfold. I'm looking forward to taking this on with the same amount of adventure, strong will and open-mindedness as I did with Bonderman and enjoying each of the coming days and challenges as I have with this past year.
Cheers to new beginnings and in honor of my anniversary, I'll share a little reflection on Bonderman.
A few months back, the Bonderman fellows had a reunion of sorts with our advisors and were asked some reflection questions. In the end, we were asked 1) to describe Bonderman in one sentence, 2) what is your favorite story from your time as a Bonderman Fellow and 3) What is one photo that best captures the essence and/or ethos of your Bondsman experience?
Here are my responses:
1. Bonderman in 15+ words: The ability to lose yourself on one half of the world and find parts you never knew existed on the other.
2. The Bonderman Fellowship is a collection of stories, it’s hard to find just one that is more worthy than the others and so many of them played a substantial role in how I experienced the world and the people around me. Like the time I met one of my best friends while disembarking a bus between Cordoba and Buenos Aires Argentina. There was the time I went snowboarding in the Andes and the time the Brazilian couple treated me to wine tasting in Mendoza Argentina. There was the time I got pushed in a wheelchair through O.R Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg because I got inexplicably sick on the plane. I can’t forget the time I the Ethiopian woman assertively questioned my gender during my 12 hour layover in Addis Ababa or when the Swazis questioned my American identity because I looked more like them than any American they’d ever seen on TV. I had a one of a kind experience at the Filipino wedding and family reunion in Bauan. And I absolutely can’t forget my road trip around the eastern coast of South Africa or through the north of Thailand. These events and stories of my eight months of travel are all my favorite and they don't even scratch the surface.
3. I love this picture because it could be anywhere in the world, taken by anyone in the world and it’s of me thoroughly enjoying a moment in a journey with no regard for where I am or where I’m going next.
|Somewhere in Argentina....I think. October-ish 2014??|
Thanks for reading! And look out for more updates and throwback additions to the blog!