I couldn’t sleep last night. I tossed and turned until I finally decided to roll out of bed, grudgingly put on my hiking boots and drive to the beach. I needed to walk, to think, to breathe. I ended up lost in thought and captivated by the cool wind and the sound of the refreshing waves as they caressed the shoreline. I felt at peace as I walked along the paved sidewalk along the beach. As I was walking I noticed pieces of sand glass had washed upon the shore.
As I collected the shimmering pieces of softened glass, I noticed something. I am like that sand glass. I, like all people, am broken. I have experienced tragedy, loss and pain. I am a shattered bottle.. Yet like the sand glass, the broken pieces of my life can be refined. As thewaves of life thrust me into the gritty sand, my sharp edges continue to be softened through my experiences. And, over time, each of the shards of glass in my life have become beautiful pieces of art, each being distinct from one another.
Though I, like all humans, have experienced sorrow which has taught me to cling to the hope of tomorrow, to embrace the collective love we can share, to acknowledge the beauty within the mysteries within life, to be awe struck by the beauty of nature and most importantly, to be empathetic. All this being said, my walk yesterday was full of reflection and presence. One of the reasons I was unable to sleep yesterday night was because of my excitement for my upcoming summer.
Until June I will be living in Amman, Jordan with my university where I will be studying the peoples and cultures of the Middle East. While there I will be visiting the Dead Sea, Petra, Jesus’ baptism sight, Aqaba, Jerash, Madaba, Wadi Rum, and Mt. Nebo among other significant religious sites. I, along with seventeen other students, will be living in downtown Amman for the duration of this four week program. I am actually the resident advisor for the program, or as I like to call myself the mediator or go-to person for my professor and the other students.
Other than eating tons of fresh falafel, learning survival Arabic, meeting locals and seeing significant holy sites, I don’t really know what to expect with this trip. Though I have traveled through Central America, Europe and detoured into Morocco for a bit, I do not have experience with a Middle Eastern country. I am entering this trip with little to no expectations and with an open mind.
Following my time in Jordan, I will fly directly to India where I am meeting one of my close friends, Pauline, with whom I am doing a yoga certification program in the world capital of yoga, Rishikesh. I have dreamed of traveling to India since I was a child. Mother Teresa has always been a key mentor in my life, which has contributed to India’s special place in my heart. In addition to this, my brother Tony traveled to India when he was in college, which has always inspired me to travel to the complex and incredible country myself.
After spending six weeks in the yoga certification program, I will fly to Kolkata where I will volunteer with the sisters of charity until August. I hope my experience working with sisters of charity will open my heart and mind. We are all impoverished but some of us have impoverished hearts while others experience the devastation of physical poverty.
I want to experience the poverty that many of my brothers and sisters face. I believe that I cannot possibly work towards fixing a problem unless I have seen it and experienced it. That being said, I hope that my proximal experience with physical poverty this summer will help me work towards empowering others to acknowledge and move forward from their depravity, whether that be spiritual or physical. In reality, I am sure I will see that I am more impoverished than many of those that I will meet. I look forward to learning about joy , love and what it means to live, from all those I encounter during this adventure.
Following my work with the pious religious order, I tenitively fly back to Los Angeles and hopefully, be able to stop by Chicago area to visit my family before I begin my senior year. My summer plans are, though the tickets have been bought and the programs paid for, rather tentative. If I learned anything from my time on the Camino and from my other previous travels, I do anticipate that my plans will change.
Like my other experiences, I know that this summer will refine me and hopefully soften my edges and help me to become a more compassionate, empathetic individual. Though I do not know what the future holds, I know that we need more compassionate, empathetic people in every occupation.
I know many of you are probably wondering why I am traveling and why I am not staying in the United States and working domestically. Here are a few reasons. First, I am an International Studies/political studies major and I have a passion for travel, to understand different religions, cultures and worldviews. Second, I am willing to make sacrifices to travel. Like not eating out at restruants and sticking to eating the basics, like apples and bananas, so that I can save my earned money for travel. Another reason is that I do not want to desensitize myself to the reality of the world I live in. So, when given an opportunity to see new parts of the world or live as others do, I will run with it.
Thankfully, my parents and my family have supported me through much prayer, among other things, during my previous travels and adventures. My parents know that I am like a free bird and that I have a thirst for knowledge and experience. They also know I have an end goal of promoting justice and working to promote human rights in some capacity in the future, and these experiences are part of my journey towards such work. Though my dreams may sound audacious, I once thought my dream of traveling the world was rather improbable yet here I am about to begin another journey.
I did, for those of you that remember my blog as CollegeWorldTraveler.com, decide to change my blog domain to JourneyAlong.me. I did this because I am captivated by the thought that we are each on a uniquely distinct journey. Whether your journey is composed of travel, raising a family or a nine-to-five job, we are all pilgrims just trekking our way through this beautiful and mysterious life.
So, if you so desire, I invite you to journey with me this summer as I travel through Jordan and India. Throughout my travels I will continue, as time and wifi permits, to share my thoughts and photographs with you. Many blessings to each of you.
Stay true, live justly and always travel on.
Peace and Love.