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Photo by Caleb Brooks

Yak Numero Uno: Intro

Alright so it has not hit me yet that we’re leaving for India in less than 3 weeks. That’s insane and I am extremely pumped but also a bit nervous because I have yet to find a way of getting nine month’s worth of malaria pills for the trip, and the thought of malaria freaks me out (as I assume it does for everyone). But crossing my fingers that we all figure stuff out with some of the complications we have faced.

But with that out of the way, let me introduce myself. Hola! Saludos! Buenas tardes! Me llamo Fernando. Vivo en Basking Ridge, New Jersey con mis papás y dos hermanas. Now, I’m assuming everyone was at one point or another forced to take (or chose to continue taking) Spanish in school, so I know you all got that. Although I’ve lived in the United States for most of my life, I’m originally from Mexico and was born in Mexico City. When I was just over a year old, my dad was relocated to Evanston, Illinois with the idea that we would return to Mexico in one or two years. One year turned into two and then into three, and instead of going back to our original home, my family and I made a permanent move to New Jersey when I was just four years old. We’ve lived here ever since, but my parents have always pushed my sisters and me to remember where we came from and remain strong and proud of our Mexican heritage (despite some American higher ups doing the opposite). We used to return to Mexico every year during the summer months, but crime, corruption, and all that other good stuff have halted those awesome vacations with family and friends. Luckily, my friends and bosses here do a good job of keeping me busy, making it so that I miss going back a lot less than I would otherwise.

It’s hard for me to define the “me” things that I’d immediately associate with myself. For one, I absolutely adore playing and watching sports. I was a runner in high school, and totally plan on keeping up my running until my knees finally give out on me. I’m always down to play any sport, even those involving frisbees despite my utter inability to throw one of those things. I watch way too much baseball compared to the average person because I am a massive Mets fan. From September to February, I also waste away entire Sundays in front of a television watching a bunch of dudes laying each other out because I am a ginormous football fan (lets go Pats–yeah yeah crucify me whatever). Honestly, if there is a sport being broadcast on TV and I’m just at home doing work on my computer, I’ll turn it on even if I’m not paying attention just for the sake of having something sport-related in front of me.

As much as sports are a big part of my life, I love being able to  just sit down and play a strategy related board game or put together a giant puzzle with my mom, dad, and sisters. With friends, I can spend an unhealthy amount of time playing video games, but at the same time I love being outdoors and going on long hikes through the most overgrown parts of nature. As long as something seems to be mildly adventure-y, I’m totally down to do it as long as it is with someone who I care about and connect with. Even driving for hours with the windows down and the music at max volume is fun as long as I can share the time with others. I think that if I had to define anything as my “me” thing, it would be this: spending time with those I love and creating new bonds with people who I could share my experiences with. It’s not so much about what I do, but about who I do it with. That’s one of the biggest reasons why I am so excited to share such a significant experience with all of you guys.

This is getting a little too long (I think) so bear with me as I touch on some of the last things about myself. When it comes to passions, I think what drives me most is trying to help people who are in positions that I myself have witnessed the effects of firsthand. Immigrants would totally fall under that category. Although my experience of moving to a new country and learning a new language was not nearly as full of hardships as it is for many others around the world, I know and have felt the scrutiny of not being exactly like everyone else around me. I work in the kitchen of a restaurant that employs many hispanic immigrants, and I have seen many of the people who I now call friends struggle with things like citizenship status or having to provide money for their family back home. When I read about immigration policy or listen to news about immigration on the radio, I can visualize people not just as a statistic, but as the exact same people who I work with or the friends I have made within the hispanic community in Basking Ridge. I’ll stop this here, and also mention how much I hate cancer. It’s not that I’ve lost a ton of people in my life to cancer, but I lost someone very special and for that reason have worked with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in the past to do fundraising stuff and also with the Red Cross and new York Blood Center to do blood drives for people who need donations. In short, cancer can go you know what itself.

This is the last section of my post because I’m running late for work (I didn’t think I would write this much and that’s why I didn’t add a picture sorry). My preparations for India have been pretty simple. I’ve talked to some Indian friends who see their families in India often about what to expect. One of my bosses also recently spent a month in India, and I talk to him about my hopes and expectations all the time. I have also gotten into the habit of eating a little more Indian food than usual. I think Indian food is AWESOME, and so recently I’ve been eating more for the purpose of being able to compare the things that are marketed as Indian food here with the real deal that we’ll be eating on the daily there. I’ve also learned a lot about Hinduism (something that first started in my world religions class this past year), and I cannot tell you how excited I am to celebrate Holi and Diwali. We actually get to celebrate those IN India. That’s insane.

Well, this does it for me. Hopefully you get a sense for the type of person I am and for the types of things I’m looking forward to doing. I really look forward to reading what all of you have to say and I am super pumped to meet you in person.