Traveling changes us. We leave home with certain preconceived notions about ourselves, the world around us, and where we fit into that world. We return home, eventually, and those notions have changed. Sometimes for worse, but usually for the better, we have a clearer idea of who we are and what we hope to become.
I know that personally, after traveling extensively in Southeast Asia and spending time Teaching English Abroad, I returned home to the United States with a much clearer sense of my goals and what I hoped to accomplish. I left Boston a wide eyed 23 year old, caught between youthful invincibility and adult responsibility. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Did I want to play music? Write? Teach? Chase a top dollar job on wall street? Chop down trees in the woods of Maine? Join a dog sledding team in Michigan?
It was overwhelming.
And I’m not going to claim that after a year teaching English abroad I had all the answers figured out. But I did realize one thing for certain. I needed to help others. Whatever I wound up doing with the rest of my life, I knew that I needed to serve others in some way shape or form. There’s nothing wrong with looking out for number one, but I knew I couldn’t be happy trying to solely fulfill my selfish desires.
Living abroad was another forceful reminder of how incredibly lucky I’ve been. To be born in the Northeast United States, with access to education, I’ve had every opportunity to explore the things that make me happy. And I’m so grateful that I had the chance to teach English abroad. It was an integral part of that exploration.
I saw a former LanguageCorps teacher post the above photo on Facebook, and it struck a chord with me and a lot of our followers. In the moment, we often feel overwhelmed. Speechless. Maybe uncomfortable, or maybe euphoric. But we return home, we reflect, and finally, we have something to say.
It’s a beautiful thing.