Read Some Books!

This first month has been filled with so many new experiences. Every day is a new exciting day and it makes me that much more excited for tomorrow. This month has not been easy. I have experienced so many joys and so many sorrows. The toughest part of my journey so far has been saying goodbye.

My first farewell was when I spent my last night with my best friends. Next came my goodbyes to my family. When I arrived in California for Pre-Departure Training, I became friends with so many people that I would eventually have to say goodbye to as well. I then arrived in Quito with my Ecuador cohort. We stayed with our host families for three weeks. After our three weeks, we not only had to say goodbye to our host families, but we had to say goodbye to each other as well. We were a large cohort and got split into several different provinces of the country.

I don’t want to simply talk about these goodbyes and that they were hard. I want to share my experience with each goodbye and how special it was to me. My first goodbye was with one of my best friends, Warren Cook. He gave me two great books for me to read. The first book, The Circle, is a dystopian society about the fine line of being connected with technology and being chained to technology. The next book he gave me was The Handmaid’s Tale. It is also a dystopian society that talks about unfair gender roles of women.

My next goodbye was with my family. My wonderful Aunt Holly gave me another book to read the last moment I was with her. This book, Improvise, consists of great advice from a CEO that my Aunt knows personally. This CEO traveled the world and did odd jobs before becoming a CEO of a public relations agency. He explains that the ability to improvise is a critical skill that young people should strive to obtain.

At Pre-Departure Training, one of my great new friends gave me another book. Thank you Kwa! Kwa gave me a book about symbols. This book is called Nothing In This Book Is True, But It’s Exactly How Things Are. These symbols connect with everyone and do not pertain to one group of people. This book also has great methods of meditation.

After staying with my host family in Quito, I received yet another book from my wonderful family member Abi! The conversations I had with this family were so personal and deep. I got to know each and every one of them so well. The book I received from this family, Hay Vida Despues De La Muerte? (Is There Life After Death?) was about the different opinions people have on what happens to a person after they die. It is also in Spanish. This has helped my Spanish tremendously. Thank you Saenz-Bustos family! I will have to say goodbye to yet another host family that has given me a Spanish-English dictionary.

Every one of these books will help me in so many different aspects. Each one pertains to me on such a personal level. I know that a lot of thought and care was put into choosing which books these people thought they could give me. I cannot thank all of you enough!

These books mean so much more to me than entertainment. They symbolize specific connections I have had with these people on such a personal level. These books are a way for these people to show that they love me. I have experienced so many difficulties this month, but seeing the stack of books I have received comforts me tremendously. When I am in a difficult situation, I can look to these books for advice, but more importantly, I can realize how much support I have behind me. My journey has not been extremely difficult. It has been exactly what I have wanted. My journey has put me into uncomfortable situations. This is when I am forced to learn. I am forced to accept everything around me. This is why I chose to be here.

Thank you all for the support!