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

How I Have Changed

Photo by Ryan Kost, Andes & Amazon Semester.

I now see myself as part of the bigger picture. Before these six weeks of travel and exploration, I knew that there was a world out there, but did not really understand what that meant. Now, I am part of a world of seven billion, all of different thought systems, rituals, and ways of being. I understand that this world is ours; it is not merely a thought held only to my imagination. We all deserve to live on it, yet have the duty to live with it, to be aware that we are stewards of nature and nature is a steward of us.

Our main goals as people are to survive, surround ourselves with loving family and friends, and most of all, to foster personal happiness and global well-being. I have laughed, feeling so supported and respected by my group. They have allowed me to become an independent thinker, and even more so, an independent doer. My home stay in Totor Kawa distilled for me the essential familial values of strength, love, and support. Not that my family back at home is any less amazing, just that my family here has shown me what is the most significant, that material possessions are irrelevant. For that matter, they have shown me that poverty is only a word for not having a lot of unnecessary material wealth. This is completely unrelated to the richness of humanity, which is attainable by anyone.

I tear up to know that I have felt free; I have felt free because I am not afraid. Having shaken from the bonds of mental limitation, I will make my own choices and own future. During this trip, I have learned through experiential adventure how I want to live my life. This could never be taught by someone else. I want to be unrestricted by society’s borders of conventionality, do what I believe, and keep learning all the time. Blending my creativity and sensibility, I will positively impact this world.

I am so proud to be living amongst nature’s balance of a system, yet have been struck by the human selfishness and ignorance which now weigh down the scale. After experiencing the mountains of the Andes and life of the Amazon, I dedicate my life to once again returning the world to harmony. I will keep questioning, so that if lucky, I may eventually stumble upon the answers.

Thank you to these six weeks of discovery. Thank you to my perseverance and openness. Thank you to four instructors who helped guide both my body and mind. Thank you to all the wonderful people I met and observed throughout this journey, allowing me to experience their perspectives and way of life. Thank you to my eight best friends who have created a community of love. Our new family has let me be no more and no less than myself and done the same for everyone else; I have grown. Thank you to these blank pages, now filled with thoughts. Thank you to all who have shared and all who have listened. Thank you to the waterfall that collapses into the pool, then winds through the rocks at my feet. Thank you to the blue sky. Thank you to Bolivia. I am so incredibly appreciative.

I will miss you, but am ready to go home and live some more.

My goal is to not lose this life from the past six weeks. The people and places will not be the same, yet I want to live with this same essence.