Growth is something we are all looking for...

I looked at my teammates Ana and Gabi and asked, " Do you guys ever get lonely? I mean for me, being here is a change, but I also have comfort in knowing that my family and friends are only a drive away, and that if I really wanted to, I could see them whenever I like. Your whole reality has changed, I imagine that must be sort of hard."

Ana looked back at me, pausing to think of how she could explain her feelings in a language that she has not yet mastered (although she is well on her way).  She answered, "emm, the first day was most hard. I cried. My brothers and I grow very close; it was hard to leave them. But, for example, I know this a great opportunity, and it is when you have to be strong, you grow."

I nodded my head in agreement as this growth is something  we are all looking for; especially those of us on the mountain. A deep want and need for growth and development connects us all.

Gabi, my roommate, nodded as well.

By this time, a member of the November Africa team, Naoki, had joined in. He, too, agreed with Ana.  He made note of the fact that upon arriving from Japan, he was worlds away from what he knew and loved.  In his first few days in America he had found himself lonely and somewhat scared, but, now, 3 months later, he feels as though the mountain is his home.

The words of my best friend, Brittany, vibrated repetitively through my mind, "Remember that home is relative."

I added my thoughts about coming to IICD to the conversation.  I mentioned that I had made it a point to remind myself, "when things get hard, or I find myself scared or lonely, I have to remember that I made this decision for a reason; that I wanted to come here because I knew that I wouldn't find fulfillment in following the path I would have followed had I stayed in the confines of my small town life." I went on to say that I hoped that even in the heaviest/darkest moments I'd find the strength to tell myself that I had done this for a reason; that I knew that I would have spent  the rest of my life regretting not having come. And that I couldn't have lived with myself or with that regret.

With that being said, we all nodded and whispered a collaborative "yea".

We continued to talk about the difference in our worlds, the difference in our culture and our lives, for about an hour.  We discussed all of the opportunity that this 14 months has to offer; how there wouldn't be the same situation, so many different people/cultures brought together to live for an extended period of time, without IICD.  The general consensus was that we are all immensely grateful to have the chance.

After our conversation ended, I spent a lot of time thinking about how lucky I am to have been given  such an opportunity; to meet and learn from these special people, to be able to give myself in efforts to add a small part to the greater good with them. Even when the times get tough, I must always remember to say "thank you" as this is what life and living is about.

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