As of late I’ve noticed a peculiar habit forming in my daily routine. Everyday at sunset, like clockwork, I quietly make my way to a secluded spot near Houston’s Hobby Airport. As the summer progresses my interest in this place has been growing exponentially, almost to the point of a mild obsession. Each day I venture out to my hidden spot, and I gaze out at the sun setting over the beautiful Houston skyline that I have grown to know and love. I marvel at the way the looming sun seemingly dwarfs the airplanes taking off from the airport’s runway. It is in these moments of absolute peace that I begin to realize that in roughly a month, I too will be departing from this very same airport to begin a journey of my own.
Traveling abroad has always been a fixation of mine, especially as a child. By the time I entered South Houston High School as a freshman I was determined to leave my hometown of Houston when I headed out to college. Once I became a sophomore, that idea grew to leaving the state of Texas. As a junior, I set my mind on leaving the country altogether. This yearning to travel was never about simply getting away from home. No, this longing to experience life outside of my norms was, and still is, fueled by a deep desire to grow as a person. I want to expand my understanding of life through experience, not by regurgitating the information being fed to me in a classroom. As Miguel De Unamundo once said: “El fascismo se cura leyendo y el racismo se cura viajando.” Or in other words, “The cure for Fascism is reading, and the cure for racism is traveling.” Miguel De Unamundo understood experiencing the culture of others first-hand can completely change the dynamics of how we comprehend others, and therefore, ourselves.
As I sit here admiring the twinkling runway lights of Hobby airport I can’t help but begin to wonder what this upcoming year will hold in store for me. I have no doubt in my mind that my year in Senegal will yield plenty of moments filled with immense joy and insight. However, I also understand that my year abroad will be accompanied by plenty of challenges and struggles, too. Despite this uncertainty, I know that I will be able to take all life has to throw at me with a peaceful mind, and an open heart.