MAY 10, 2017 | Southeast Asia
We sit on a bus heading back to Hanoi with mixed emotions- something like a bowl of sadness mixed with a lump of gratitude, relief and excitement. After almost twelve full weeks of traveling, living, working, and learning together as a group, today we are heading off on our separate paths once again. Luke will be headed back to Bethesda, Maryland. Nitnoi (Taylor Little) will be headed to California and beyond for some more adventure and discovery. Malit (Taylor Schutt) will meet her mother and aunt in Thailand and act as their expert guide through the country. Martin and Brenden will return to their homes in Portland, and Cooper will be continuing his journeys onward to the South Pacific.
And although we will be returning to familiar places and people, we might arrive with unfamiliar feelings. Three months traveling in foreign lands, speaking different languages, eating different foods, smelling unfamiliar smells, meeting all sorts of curious souls, and opening ourselves up to new ways of living, to different stories being enacted in the world – of how to relate to our neighbors or the land on which we live – has impacted us on some level. We do not return home the same people. We each now carry these new stories with us. Learning how to incorporate them into the old identities that people hold of us and we had held ourselves will be the challenging next step.
We bring with us the joys and triumphs of living in an intimate group for 3 months- the sense of community, care and closeness- along with the growth and learning from the challenges and discomfort that comes with being required to share such close space with new family members you did not choose. Even with all of the life-changing experiences of traveling in SE Asia for 3 months, our time together in these experiences have been some of the most impactful.
It is a time of transition for us all, but an especially big transition for you all, our beloved students. You have asked big questions of yourselves and the world over the past three months – Who am I really? What is my own definition of success? What do I want out of life? Where is the world going? The answers to these questions, as much as you’ve been able to reason and feel them out over the past months, will no doubt guides your next steps. We hope that this time together has in some way given you the wisdom and courage to make those next steps with a new sense of independence and confidence in yourself, new perspectives, and with much hope for the future.
We leave you all with warmth and love in our hearts, and an immense sense of gratitude for each of you in joining us in our journey together and bringing your light, wisdom, curiosity and silliness to this group.