One year ago, I was anxiously awaiting a response from the Omprakash Foundation about the status of my grant application. In 24 hours, I’ll be in a taxi on my way to the airport to catch my flight to the US, after nine months of living and working in Peru.
A couple of nights ago, in a motor-taxi ride back home after programming at the community center, Ana María and I reminisced about all of my time abroad. She began mentioning the volunteers that I worked with, from the ones who lived in the same house as us to the study abroad students who worked at the center a couple of times a week. She continued with the programs I was involved in, the trips we went on with the kids, the clavicle incident, the neighbors, all of the participants, the people at the market, the communities of Lomo de Corvina and Oasis, and everything in Villa el Salvador. Beforehand, I had a general awareness of all of the things I would be missing upon going back to the US. But as Ana María listed every single component that made up my entire life in Peru, I couldn’t help but feel grateful that it was dark and that my attempts at wiping away my tears might have looked like I was just really tired.
Earlier this week, I was overwhelmed with the fact that once Thursday comes, in a matter of hours the people, places and experiences of my day-to-day for the past several months will be absent. This past year has been crucial to the development of my ideas about the world and my place within it. While I did briefly get caught up in the anxieties that I was forewarned about from fellow volunteers and colleagues who have experienced the back and forth that comes with living abroad, I realized that stressing over things that are out of my control weren’t honoring all of the opportunities that I am so thankful to have experienced. So while processing how much I’ll miss all of the aforementioned people and places (and I’ll miss them terribly), I also have been reflecting on how blessed I am to have gotten to know all of them and to have shared really special moments and memories.
On the same night as the motor-taxi ride, once I got home I put iTunes on shuffle and in the most apropos of moments, “For Good” from the Broadway musical, Wicked came on. Of course after listening to the first two lyrics my tears could not be contained. If one thing about my life has remained, it is that Broadway can always help ease any and all of my emotionally taxing situations and “For Good” really fit the bill this time around. I mean, the lyrics are pretty spot-on…
It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you
You’ll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend…
Anyway, I digress.
The past year has been a transformative, challenging, intellectually engaging and incredibly special year that I consider to be the paramount learning experience of my life. I cannot begin to express how grateful I am for all of the individuals who have supported me throughout my time abroad and I’m looking forward to what the next year will have in store.