Back to
Photo by Celia Mitchell (2015/16 Semester Photo Contest Entry), Indonesia Semester.

Home is anywhere, family is anyone

The title of this note is something I have just changed my mind about. I have always passionately thought that home is where I am deep rooted – the foothills of Boulder, the seashore of Cape Cod, the vast Rocky Mountains. The places I have grown up. Nothing can replace those. Nothing can compare to those. The family I have in these places that I have been so lucky to be born into – that is my FAMILY. This is true. But there are so many more people and more places that can become family and can become home, and that is such a beautiful thing.

Over these three weeks that have rushed by I´ve realized so many things about myself and the world around me. Because my brain is awake, I am so alive, I feel my emotions and I am so present. For the first time in a long time.

Adventure can be found without seeking it out.

Home really is where the heart is. And a heart can be many places.

Family are those who accept you and embrace you as you are – even if you can´t speak their language adequately.

A simple life is a beautiful life.

You don´t need a full schedule to be fully satisfied.

If you relax, boredom doesn´t exist.

It´s SO possible to form deep relationships without being able to speak the same language.

Incredible amounts of joy come from being present.

Passions are important and even more important to embrace.

Feeling and allowing yourself to express emotion openly is healthy.

Last week, while I was making dinner with my homestay mother Cerillia, I mispronounced a word, and I still don´t know what I said, but she started to belly laugh, filling the kitchen with her deep powerful voice. She has the most contagious laugh and smile, especially because she is very serious and quiet most of the time. We laughed for so long, so long that she started crying laughing and sat down on the floor to catch her breath. This moment was the happiest moment of my homestay, as I shared this genuine, beautiful connection with this bad-ass, single Bolivian mother of three in her kitchen as we cooked together. I let it bring me to tears.

Last night, I watched as she used her strong, powerful hands to kill a duck and a chicken for her oldest son´s birthday. The slow process and the care she took to do so as she said a prayer as she slit it´s throat was something that was very hard as well as very powerful for me to watch, and I let it bring me to tears.

Today, we had group time to begin reflecting on our time here, as it is our last family day before we return to La Paz. We did an activity where we all wrote down things we´ve learned, questions we have, new perpsective on family, and how we feel we have thrived in our time here. Everything that was written was this same awakening of the mind. Feeling alive, awake, and present. Wondering how one can bring the same joy they experience in all the simple things here back home. Wanting to show more love and appreciation to family back at home. Questioning old perspectives and embracing new ones.
Walking around and reading about these beautiful moments of self discovery and epiphanies that are shared with in this group again, brought me to tears.

For a very long time, I have loved and been inspired by this video of a man who quits his job to ride his bike by himself from Oregon to the tip of Patagonia. Because he wants to turn his brain back on. By escaping the routine, living simply, and being exposed to new things every single day. I watched it for the first time since I´ve been here a few days ago and realized that that is the life I am living now. And I am so thankful for that, and all of the things I will take away from it.

Give it a watch.